Why Should You Care about Food Safety?

Any business that sells food and drinks must observe basic food safety, which means it should abide by a set of practices that revolve around keeping food fresh and safe to eat. Regardless of the type of dishes they serve in their restaurant or how big their menu is, all food merchants should subscribe to the same set of basic principles for food safety. Observing this standard will get great food out of the kitchen, keep customers happy, and allow a food and beverage establishment to continue to do business for the longest possible time.

Grab is deeply committed to the safety, welfare, and satisfaction of all customers that order food and drinks through its GrabFood platform. That’s why we’re more than happy to share important information about how our own merchant-partners can uphold food safety standards in their own establishments, from the time that food is first prepared in the kitchen to when it is dispatched for delivery to customers.

Here is a brief guide on the most important things that both new and existing Grab merchant-partners need to know about implementing proper food safety. This will help you set a standard for optimal food safety in your kitchen and keep your GrabFood customers healthy and satisfied with their meals.

Grab’s FoodSafe Guidelines: Basic Food Safety Principles You Should Know

All Grab Merchants need to know about the basic food safety principles that are practiced in establishments involved with the preparation of food. They can be summed up in these four key principles:

Clean and Sanitize, Partner!

In order to keep food fresh, tasty, and free of contaminants, it’s important that you maintain a clean kitchen environment and clean cooking tools and equipment. Cooks, dishwashers, and other kitchen staff should always keep the surfaces, cookware, and utensils that they work with in pristine condition. These sanitary practices should also extend to the packaging used for food delivery, which should always be clean and unused.

The primary goal of keeping things clean and sanitary is to prevent cross-contamination, or the movement of harmful pathogens from a dirty object or surface to the food products that will be consumed. Keeping surfaces, tools, and equipment clean will also prevent common pests—like cockroaches, flies, and rats—from making their home in the kitchen and soiling the food that customers will eat.

Individual cleanliness and hygiene are also crucial to proper food safety and handling. Enjoin your kitchen staff to wash their hands often with soap and water, and to dry their hands thoroughly before handling food. Make it a rule for everyone to wear a hairnet, apron, and face mask when preparing food, and to wear clean disposable gloves when handling foods like raw meat or raw fish. 

Always Cook Your Food Thoroughly

The second key principle is to cook each type of food according to the recommended temperature and length of cooking time. Some foods—like raw red meat, chicken, seafood, and eggs—must be cooked with extra precaution, as undercooking any of these may put customers at risk of getting food poisoning. At the same time, your cooks should also learn how to strike a balance between undercooking and overcooking food, as overcooked meals may not be palatable to customers.

As a team, aim to become knowledgeable about the cooking techniques and equipment that are needed to cook your dishes at an optimal temperature. The better you are at striking that fine balance for different types of foods, the safer and more appealing your food will be to your customers.

Keep Your Food at a Safe Temperature

Temperature is another key factor in keeping food safe for consumption. Your team should prepare food just in time for delivery so that it arrives at your customer’s doorstep in peak condition. In addition, raw ingredients and pre-prepared food products must be properly refrigerated.

Some additional reminders for cooling food safely and keeping it at an optimal temperature before serving are the following:

  • Never leave food at room temperature for more than a couple of hours. The longer the food is kept at room temperature, the more susceptible it is to being contaminated with bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus, Salmonella, and Escherichia coli.
  • For items that are ready to serve or deliver, make sure to keep the food within a desirable temperature range. Always maintain hot food at a temperature of about 65 °C or above, and maintain cold food at 5 °C or below. This will ensure that
  • Do not put a large container of hot food inside the refrigerator because of the risk of raising the temperature inside, which will affect the fridge’s ability to maintain a low temperature. This will increase the chances of spoilage among the other food items inside..
  • Use fresh chilled items like fruits, vegetables, and milk immediately after their purchase. Although the cold temperature inside the fridge preserves these items for a few days, they are more vulnerable to getting moldy or festering bacteria the longer they stay inside.

Store Your Food Safely

Lastly, proper food storage comprises a big part of food safety. You and your staff should always use the right kinds of container for each food item and take special care to secure container lids and plastic or paper packaging. This ensures that your food doesn’t spill or get exposed to the elements for too long. The only exception is raw fruits and vegetables; for these items, it’s best to remove their plastic and paper packaging in order to keep them fresh in the fridge.

You should also make sure to keep raw food and cooked food in separate containers. Mixing these up may result in cross-contamination, thus putting your customers in danger of getting sick.

Be aware of which containers to use per food item you serve, and ensure that food products are always stored at optimal temperature. In addition, remember to manage your refrigerators, chillers, and cold storage units properly so that they won’t be overpacked and will operate at optimal levels. Doing this, you also won’t have a hard time keeping an inventory of your products.

For greater ease in finding items inside your fridge, you can keep them in the following order:

  • Reserve the top and middle shelves for cooked food or ready-to-eat items.
  • Dedicate your bottom shelf to packaged meat, fish, and poultry.
  • Stack fruits and vegetables in the crisper drawer.

Food Safety and Hygiene Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic

Food safety is now of utmost importance in light of public health concerns amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Customers may be extra worried about the items they order for fear of contracting COVID-19 or being extra vulnerable to the spread of other diseases. To this end, let’s remember safety as one of Grab’s core values and raise our standards for food safety and food delivery to customers.

Keep up to date with initiatives like the GrabProtect Program, a food safety and delivery partnership inked with the Department of Health (DOH) in 2020. Help us do our part in keeping merchants, riders, and others involved in the GrabFood ecosystem focused on the goal of nourishing customers and safeguarding their overall health, even amidst the most difficult of circumstances.

Ready, Check, Go: Important Food Safety and Delivery Reminders for Grab Partners

Knowing how urgent it is to have an airtight food safety and delivery program in place, what are the best practices that you and your kitchen staff can follow? For an easy shortcut to safe, hygienic, and accurate food deliveries, remember GrabFood’s motto of Ready, Check, Go:

Is Your Food Safely Prepared and Ready for Delivery?

Review the four food safety principles listed above: cleaning and sanitizing, cooking food thoroughly, keeping food at the right temperature, and storing food in the right way. When you’ve met all four criteria, that’s when you can consider your food ready for delivery.

Check for Quality, Completeness, and Special Requests

On top of the four food safety principles, check if your food follows your restaurant’s quality assurance protocols. It’s easier to make food handling mistakes when things are hectic in the kitchen, so do your part to manage any influxes of orders and ensure that your staff members are still practicing proper food safety and hygiene.

In addition, don’t forget to be extra careful about your customers’ requests for their orders. These include which foods to upgrade to bigger sizes, which foods to exclude, and which foods pack on the side. You must be able to help customers avoid food products that they’re allergic to, foods that they can’t consume because of an underlying medical condition, or foods that they shouldn’t eat due to a special diet or due to their religious obligations. For example, you cannot risk contaminating halal food with pork products or vegan food with meat, eggs, or dairy products. Remind your staff to check the Notes portion of your customers’ orders when they come in through GrabFood and see if customers have left any special details or requests for their food preparation.

Make Sure Your Order IDs Are Consistent Before You Go

Lastly, when it’s time to hand off your food to a Grab driver-partner, make sure that your Merchant Order ID and the Driver Order ID match up. This will prevent customers’ orders from getting mixed up and, as a result, saddle you with fewer complaints. If the two Order IDs line up, then your customers’ food is earnestly ready to go.

Staying True to the GrabFood Merchant’s Code of Conduct

As a merchant on GrabFood, basic food safety principles aren’t the only guidelines that you should adhere to. Remember to observe three basic rules from the GrabFood Merchant Code of Conduct to do honest business with Grab:

Follow the Laws of the Land

Be conscientious about following all local and national laws with regard to food, health, safety, labor, and the environment when it comes to running your restaurant. Grab enjoins you to keep your licenses and permits organized and up-to-date as required by the government.

Criminal activities like the sale of prohibited goods, fraud, and harassment have no place in Grab’s business model. We promise to work closely with the Philippines’ law enforcement agencies in investigating any of these.

Use the Grab Platform with Honesty and Integrity

Aside from watching out for customers’ safety and health, we call on Grab merchants to help us look out for their wellbeing. All merchants are to act in good faith by ensuring that customers get what they pay for and that they are not cheated or defrauded out of their orders.

Merchants must only use official Grab applications when settling orders through the Grab platform. Grab affiliates are also discouraged from using devices or apps that may disrupt Grab’s user experience, such as jailbroken or rooted devices. Let every experience that both you and your customers have with Grab be rooted in utmost integrity.

Be the Best Grab Citizen You Can Be for Your Grab Customers

When it comes to preparing food and settling other tasks related to your customers’ orders, Grab encourages you to maintain proper hygiene and to be extra conscientious about individual customers’ requests. We reserve the right to impose penalties on constituent GrabFood merchants if food items do not meet the prescribed standards for food safety.

Again, great customer experiences involve more than just food safety. Knowing that, encourage your staff to be responsive, polite, and empathetic to the concerns of customers who transact through Grab. Make sure that orders are handled carefully and accurately, and in the case of any mistake, be cooperative and open to feedback from your customers.

Mastering Food Safety with Grab

GrabFood merchants have several additional opportunities to learn about the particulars of food safety, such as through Grab’s partnership with the Food Safety and Hygiene Academy of the Philippines (FoodSHAP). You can invite your staff to watch free Grab PH and FoodSHAP webinars on food safety topics when the lessons are next available. In addition, you can browse GrabAcademy, Grab’s exclusive learning resource center for Grab merchants, for modules on food safety, food hygiene, food handling, and quality management.

Implementing proper food safety and keeping GrabFood customers happy and healthy should be a team effort between Grab and its merchant-partners. For further lessons, support, and guidance on observing proper food safety in your establishment, don’t hesitate to turn to Grab.