Food-and-beverage legal compliance worth the time, money

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When food-and-beverage owners and managers are responsible for an endless list of tasks, from employees to food safety to sanitation, it is not surprising when some important elements get overlooked throughout the busy day-to-day schedule that is maintained. These forgotten elements can lead to a number of inefficiencies and safety risks, putting your customers and staff in danger as well as minimizing productivity and exposing the operation to potential liabilities.

The following list is a compilation of suggestions that will assist F&B operators in overcoming these challenges focusing on legal compliance:

  • Establish a philosophy of prevention and proactive processes rather than reaction.
  • Every job description includes the expectation of safe work performance and kindness toward coworkers and guests.
  • Develop a code of ethics that is enforced.
  • Establish a zero-tolerance policy for illegal discrimination, hostile environments or retaliatory acts; celebrate diversity and proactive inclusion.
  • Perform frequent self-inspections for sanitation, safety and security concerns.
  • Be diligent in employee certifications (alcohol, sanitation) by requiring more frequent training than the law requires.
  • Establish mandatory policies—key control, alcohol access, minors and discovery of illegal activities or items.
  • Conduct criminal history checks on all employees.
  • Have zero tolerance for drugs and alcohol in the workplace.
  • Have a drug testing consent form signed by all employees.
  • Perform random drug tests.
  • Drug test whenever a workplace accident occurs.
  • Call 911 promptly when requested or circumstances require it.
  • Train employees how to respond to an accident/emergency.
  • Comply with all wage and hour laws.
  • Use color-coded cutting boards in the kitchen.
  • Use color-coded mops to avoid cross contamination among restrooms, dining areas and kitchen.
  • Maintain floor inspection record.
  • Remove barriers to access for the disabled.
  • Provide warnings on your menus.
  • Train your employees about potential allergies and dish/beverage ingredients.
  • Comply with PCI requirements.

It would be helpful to review this list to create a gap analysis (what you are currently doing, what do you feel you need to be doing) then create a plan to fill the gap.


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There is a lot involved in running an F&B operation, and it is challenging to keep up with every aspect, so effective owners and managers must prioritize. Legal, safety and security challenges must be priorities. Policy/process development, training, education and accountability must be implemented. These require an investment of time and money, but as the adage reminds us: "If you think training education is expensive, try ignorance!" 

Stephen Barth is a professor of hospitality law and leadership at the Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management at the University of Houston, the author of “Hospitality Law,” the founder of, The Hospitality Law Conference and the Global Travel Risk Management Summit Series. Contact him at [email protected]

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