CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Steritech
, a provider of assessment and consulting solutions for operational consistency and brand protection, presented the 2021 Excellence in Food Safety award to Panda Express during last week's Fast Casual Top 100 Movers and Shakers ceremony.
The annual event, which seeks to recognize fast casual restaurants who excel in making food safety part of their overall brand culture, also recognized honorable mentions Chiptole and MOOYAH Burgers and Fries.
"The restaurant industry experienced unprecedented food safety challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic," said Doug Sutton, president of Steritech. "From heightened safety measures to menu, staff and operational changes, these fast casual restaurants persevered, maintaining an unwavering commitment to an excellent food safety culture."
Brands enter the selection process through open nomination. Following the nomination period, a third-party research and assessment firm measures the foundational food safety behaviors of each organization. As noted on Steritech's "7 Pillars of Food Safety Excellence," each brand is judged on: senior leadership commitment and engagement, defined standards and procedures, training, KPI's and scorecards, oversight program and positive recognition.
Winner of the 2021 Excellence in Food Safety Award - Panda Express
"Established in 1983, this fast casual veteran mastered the art of mass expansion while holding true to the company's core values," Steritech said. "Panda Express places incredible emphasis on developing employees through proper training, inspiring innovation, celebrating success and promoting open communication. Operating thousands of locations, in multiple countries and a variety of settings, their commitment to food safety transcends cultural changes. Standing out from the more than 45,000 Chinese restaurants in North America, Panda Express is recognized as an industry leader, earning them this year's top honors in the Excellence in Food Safety awards."
Honorable mention No. 1 - Chipotle
"Chipotle's remarkable commitment to food safety starts with heightened food quality standards," Steritech said. "Boasting only 53 menu ingredients, Chipotle sources some of the industry's most organic, locally grown produce as well as responsibly raised meats. To match these high standards, Chipotle invests greatly in employee training. Every employee is required to master the Food Safety 7 to prevent foodborne contamination, and every field leader at Chipotle is Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) certified. With food safety standards that reach beyond what is simply expected, Chipotle is truly deserving of this recognition." Editor's Note: Read our 2020 feature on Chipotle here.
Honorable mention 2 - MOOYAH Burger and Fries
"Debuting its first establishment just 14 years ago, this self-proclaimed 'fun-loving' franchise quickly worked its way to the top, establishing a commitment to food safety from the start," Steritech said. "MOOYAH's corporate office leads by example, covering the costs of quarterly third-party audits for each of its 100-plus restaurants. Most notable in 2020 was their quick response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Mandating enhanced sanitation regulations and expanding their audit program to include COVID safety checks, MOOYAH has proven themselves to be a true leader within the fast casual restaurant industry."