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Restaurants respond to rankings

Ruby Tuesday
Ruby Tuesday has been in business for more than 32 years, served hundreds of millions of meals, and has an outstanding track record in food safety.  We are totally committed to the sanitary handling and preparation of food in our restaurants.  Beginning approximately four months ago, we initiated the following steps to raise our standards even higher and further ensure accountability:

1.      All health department inspection reports are sent to corporate headquarters for    review and analysis, where they are scored based on our own rating system that is tougher than most government inspections. 

2.      The CEO reviews every significant violation weekly, sees every re-inspection report, and is personally involved in resolving issues.

3.      Beyond our on-going training and certification process, this year we are implementing an advanced, customized program of food safety and sanitation that will be among the most stringent in the industry.

That’s how seriously we take these inspections and how important food safety and sanitation is at Ruby Tuesday.

Red Lobster
We are never satisfied with our progress on food safety. That’s why we work everyday to ensure redundant, overlapping safeguards in our restaurants to protect our guests even if a problem occurs.

We also monitor our progress very closely and based on inspections from our independent Quality Assurance auditor, we are today operating the cleanest and safest restaurants in our history.

We thank Dateline NBC for its focus on this important issue.

T.G.I. Friday's
Thank you for providing us the opportunity to address your upcoming story.   Food safety is a top priority at all T.G.I. Friday’s restaurants and a subject we take very seriously.  Unfortunately, without having copies of the specific health inspection reports used for this story we are unable to comment on the specific violations.  However, based on our quality assurance program I am confident that the specific violations raised in those health inspection reports were immediately corrected.

Every T.G.I. Friday’s restaurant is expected to uphold our high food safety standards each and every day, and to reinforce this priority we have a very strong food safety program. 

§          We have Quality Assurance Managers in each division ensuring that our restaurants are in full compliance with all local, state and federal health regulations, and if a problem arises, they work with our Director of Food Safety and the restaurant staff to immediately rectify the situation.  

§          It is mandatory that all T.G.I. Friday’s restaurant managers are ServSafe certified.  ServSafe is a state-of-the art course developed by the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation.

§          We conduct thorough food safety/handling training for all new employees, as well as ongoing refresher training courses with current employees regarding all aspects of food safety including food storage, preparation and temperature control.

§          In addition to internal controls we have a third party auditor on retainer to complete independent food safety inspections of each of our restaurants so as to ensure our high standards are being adhered to on a consistent basis.

§          Our Standard Operating Procedure requires all restaurants to conduct food safety checks twice daily.

§          All T.G.I. Friday’s food suppliers are required to use HAACP, Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point.

We pride ourselves on the fact that the majority of our restaurants consistently score very high on their health inspections, and it is completely unacceptable for a restaurant to receive even one critical violation during an inspection.   Although we do everything possible to ensure perfect scores on our health inspections, sometimes we make mistakes.  However, when mistakes are made we take every measure to ensure they are immediately corrected and that the health and well-being of our guests is never at risk.

As an operator of one of the largest casual dining restaurant chains in the world we recognize the importance of health inspections.  We view the local Health Inspectors as partners and appreciate the role they play in ensuring a safe environment for our guests and employees. 

I can’t reiterate enough the importance we place on food safety, and appreciate you providing us the opportunity to respond to your story.

Bob Evans Restaurants
Thank you for giving us the opportunity to respond regarding your segment on casual dining and health inspections.  Although our restaurants consistently pass health department inspections with zero critical violations, we are disappointed in the findings.  We believe that any critical violation is one too many.  Bob Evans Restaurants have been committed to providing a quality dining experience for our customers for more than 40 years.  Customer safety and cleanliness are our highest priorities, and we have stringent measures in place to protect our customers.

Bob Evans Restaurants integrate food safety education at the very beginning of management training through the company’s manager-in-training program.  Annually, the company certifies more than 1,000 managers through the National Restaurant Association’s ServSafe, a nationally recognized program designed to meet food safety certification requirements for local health departments.

In addition to the ServSafe manager certification, Bob Evans management conducts frequent “quality walks” in each restaurant to ensure that proper food safety is being practiced.  Our corporate quality assurance team also conducts routine, unannounced food safety audits throughout the field to evaluate food safety in all areas of the restaurant.

Even with these steps in place, we are always looking to do more to ensure safety.  On July 26, 2004, Bob Evans launched an interactive training program for all 40,000 restaurant employees, which includes an extensive food safety curriculum.  This additional curriculum reinforces and tests employees on several aspects of food safety including prevention of foodborne illnesses, techniques for proper hand washing and guidelines for accurate heating and holding temperatures.  Furthermore, just last week, Bob Evans distributed vinyl hand-washing clings that adhere to rest room mirrors to the company’s more than 40,000 employees to serve as a reminder about the importance of proper hand washing in conjunction with National Food Safety Education Month.

Bob Evans is committed to providing the highest quality of service to our customers at each of our restaurants.  We count the principles of quality, service and cleanliness among our company’s core values, and we strive to uphold those values with every meal we serve.

Chili's Grill & Bar
We deeply regret the isolated salmonella incident in June 2003 that affected guests at our Vernon Hills, Illinois, restaurant.  We know it was difficult for them, and it was certainly one of the most difficult situations we've faced in our 29-year history.  We sincerely apologize, and we've worked to make amends to all those affected.

This was a localized incident and certainly not something that our company would have envisioned in light of our extensive policies and procedures, which have always met industry standards.  In an effort to further ensure customer safety, we have taken additional, definitive steps that go above and beyond regulatory requirements. Some of the mandatory measures we now have in place include:

·       Quarterly inspections at each of our restaurants by an independent food safety assessment company, which have led to marked improvements

·       Voluntarily closing our restaurants during city or county "boil water" advisories, a step that health departments generally do not require

·       Requiring all restaurant managers to complete an industry-approved food safety certification course

·       Tighter controls and systemwide reinforcement of established food handling procedures

While none of these steps can change what happened last year in Vernon Hills, they represent a firm, longstanding commitment by our company to make the health and safety of our guests and employees our top priority.  Our working relationships with local health departments across the country are a vital part of this commitment to our guests.  The ongoing feedback we receive through local health inspections has contributed to our successful track record of providing safe, enjoyable dining experiences for three decades. 

Applebee's Neighborhood Grill & Bar
At Applebee's Neighborhood Grill & Bar, food safety is our primary concern. While we strive for perfection on every local health inspection, if and when we do fall short, we move quickly to correct any deficiency. Until every inspection earns a perfect score, we won't stop our efforts to improve.

In addition to local health inspections, we also have a number of other programs in place to help ensure the highest level of food safety standards. We train every associate in every restaurant on food safety.  In fact, 95 percent of all managers are independently certified in ServSafe, a state-of-the-art course developed by the National Restaurant Association's Education Foundation.

Applebee's International also contracts with a third-party firm to perform two unannounced audits each year on each restaurant.  Additionally, in the past year, we have doubled the size of our internal Quality Assurance team. The team is developing an extensive program aimed at monitoring our food supply system from "farm to fork."

Finally, food safety is much more than talk at Applebee's. From the restaurant manager to the company's chief operating officer, part of our operations team's compensation is directly tied to improvement in food safety scores.

Applebee's commitment to food safety is unmatched and unwavering. We will continue to make every effort to ensure every guest is served only the freshest and safest products available.

Serving our guests safe, quality food is Denny's highest priority. Our quality assurance emphasis is on purchasing safe products from our suppliers and ensuring strict adherence to Denny's procedures for food preparation, handling and cleanliness by restaurant staff.

We simply do not compromise on food safety or food quality in our restaurants. The science-based HAACP (Hazardous Analysis Critical Control Points) food safety program is implemented in every Denny's restaurant. The FDA recognizes HAACP as the most efficient and effective way to ensure food safety, making Denny's a leader in retail food safety.

We earn customer loyalty by setting high standards of operation for our restaurants and making sure these standards are maintained. In the event of any concerns about food safety, these situations are addressed and corrected immediately. The continuing success of Denny's is dependent on our providing customers with consistent, satisfying, safe food and great service. Our commitment in this area is unwavering.

Waffle House
Thank you for letting us respond to the Dateline NBC survey of Waffle House restaurants. Food safety and sanitation have always been and always will be top priorities at all Waffle House restaurants. Obviously, we are disappointed with the results of your survey and we regret the finding of any health code violations in our restaurants. When a violation is found, we take immediate remedial actions to comply and ensure the safety of our customers.

The following are a few things about our system I would like to share with you:

  • Since the opening of our first restaurant in 1955, every single meal served at a Waffle House restaurant has been prepared in an open kitchen in full view of our customers
  • The Waffle House system operates 1,460 company and franchise restaurants in 25 states that are open 24-hours a day, 365 days a year. We try not to disappoint any of the 160 million customers we serve each year.
  • We continually train our associates in providing superior customer service including handling, storing and preparing food in a safe manner.
  • We provide required ServSafe training to all company restaurant managers and make the same ServSafe training available to our franchisees.
  • Restaurant management conduct daily sanitation inspections to ensure our policies and procedures are being implemented.
  • We work with the local health departments to ensure our production systems meet their requirements.
  • We hold all company and franchise operators accountable for complying with local health regulations in our restaurants. Failure to do so could result in disciplinary action for company employees and possible cancellation of the franchise agreement for franchises.

Outback Steakhouse
You have informed us of your upcoming story on health inspection reports of our Outback Steakhouse restaurants and have asked us to respond. As you know, since we have not seen the story, we cannot comment specifically on it.

The quality and safety of the food we serve are our highest priorities.  We consider local health department inspectors to be our partners in food safety and have always worked with them in this spirit.  Issues that may arise during routine inspections are immediately addressed and re-inspections are requested as soon as possible to verify that any issues raised have been properly resolved.

We provide rigorous and on-going training in food safety and sanitation for all our management and staff. This training includes written materials, videos and regular updates and refreshers. We continually evaluate our training for areas of improvement. In addition, our restaurants are subject to regular evaluations by internal staff specifically trained for this purpose.

In addition to local health department inspections and our internal evaluations, we also have an independent, third party firm of experts regularly conduct inspections of our restaurants. These inspections cover all aspects of food safety and sanitation and are conducted at each of our restaurants three times each year.

Finally, our staff works closely with our suppliers and distributors to ensure that they have in place proper systems and procedures for food safety and sanitation. Our internal staff inspects and audits our supplier facilities on a regular basis. 

All of us at Outback are committed to doing everything possible to maintain the highest standards of food safety and quality at every one of our restaurants. 

We appreciate that you have provided us with advance notice and some details of the story that will be broadcast on Sunday, September 26. We have no greater obligation to our guests than to ensure food safety. We take this responsibility seriously and work diligently to ensure that our restaurants meet or exceed all local, state and federal health regulations.

Our ongoing commitment to food safety means that an inspection with even one critical violation is below our standard. When a concern exists with an inspection, we partner with our franchisees and local health agencies to quickly resolve any issue. 

Millions of guests choose IHOP because of our 46-year reputation for quality food, friendly service and clean restaurants. We believe the procedures we utilize ensure the health and safety of the public.