In what is one of the most competitive industries in Australia, the consequence of failing to meet correct food safety standards in hospitality can impose a detrimental impact on business. Despite this, there are still common mistakes that happen in several workplaces which can inflict major penalties on both the business and its staff. Most businesses require a nominated Food Safety Supervisor to ensure these standards are met and being able to spot common signs of poor food handling is essential to this role.

Incorrect storage of Food

Requirements over correctly storing food do not just involve ensuring “high risk” foods such as fish, seafood, and dairy are placed in the correct location at the correct temperatures. Common details overlooked can be when food is not stored immediately after use in the kitchen or when employees bring in food and it is not appropriately packaged or stored. Packed lunches brought into the workplace all need to be covered. Containers also need to be cleaned and dried if they are to be put back into the fridge after use. Failure to meet these standards may cause food contamination and as a food handler, and more importantly food safety supervisor, you are responsible for understanding where all food needs to be stored and how to control bacteria growing on food.

Insufficient understanding of food allergens

Whether it is down to a lack of knowledge of the full list of food allergies, or of what allergens are in the meals prepared for patrons, an insufficient understanding of food allergens could have a devastating effect. All staff must be trained to have a full comprehension of possible food allergens, including what food allergens are in each meal and how to prepare meals separately to avoid cross-contamination. Further to this, consideration of storage and equipment to segregate allergens and non-allergens is critical and needs to be implemented within business procedures.

Malfunctioning equipment

Unfortunately, equipment does break, but as a food safety supervisor, you need to have procedures in place to deal with any equipment that is either broken or not operating correctly. For example, refrigerators not functioning at the right temperatures is an issue that needs to be addressed immediately. Documentation of temperatures, and ensuring this policy is implemented by all staff is a fast way for the food safety supervisor to monitor this. Environmental Health Officers can check on your premises at any time, so you need to ensure equipment is in good condition.

Poor personal hygiene

Personal hygiene is a seemingly obvious sign you would assume most food safety supervisors could control. However, there is a long list of criteria that falls under personal hygiene that doesn’t just end at washing your hands correctly. Any signs of visible cuts on staff, all need to be bandaged or covered and hands should always be dried on paper towels – not tea towels or aprons. What’s more, if a staff member has been sick with a gastro-related illness, they should not attend work for an additional 48 hours after they have stopped showing symptoms. As a supervisor, you should be able to spot all forms of poor hygiene in all members of staff.


The worst consequence will always be food poisoning from inadequate food handling. This can elicit lawsuits and in severe cases, lead to death. Other consequences that may slip the radar can include fines of up to $40,000 for the individual mishandling food, and $200,000 to the business.

Another impact, which is often overlooked, is a bad reputation. If poor food handling causes a patron to get gastro, or even something less incriminating like hair in food, the effects of communicating this via social media can reduce the number of customers dramatically. Within a highly competitive market, where many potential customers will look to online reviews and rating systems, poor hygiene is a huge red flag and one bad experience could influence the business’ finances significantly.

Being able to spot any potential hazards quickly and implement safe food practices will prevent the workplace from any legal, health, or financial issues. The Australian Institute of Accreditation has several different courses in which you will receive an accredited food safety certificate that is recognised across all states and territories in Australia. The courses are accessible online for both Food Handlers and Food Safety Supervisors and provide you with all the skills you will need to not only advance your career in hospitality but ensure your business meets the standard required.