How Food & Beverage Industry Leaders Can Prepare for Power Outages
Posted by Kristopher Schwind
For businesses in any industry, power outages put operations in serious jeopardy. For the food and beverage industry, however, a power failure can mean total devastation.
Blackouts and brownouts cost Americans an estimated $150 billion a year in spoiled food, lost productivity, and other costs. Restaurants, grocery stores, and wholesale distributors rely on electricity to keep the lights on, exhaust fans going, and refrigeration running.
Without an emergency backup power plan, food and beverage businesses put their customers, their products, and their profits at risk. On the other hand, the businesses that do manage to stay up and running will have the opportunity to capitalize on the situation.
That’s exactly what the owners of Nick’s Pizza in Newburyport, Maine did earlier this year. The only restaurant with a generator within miles, their doors stayed open during a major March Nor’easter. “We just got a big order of twenty trays and five more now,” owner Frank Labarba told CBS news. “We’re expecting a big night tonight.”
Interested in maintaining brand reputation, customer relationships, and business operations? Here are a few tips for food and beverage businesses to prepare for—and prevent—a worst-case scenario.
Refrigeration: Keeping Perishable Food Out of the “Danger Zone”
Refrigeration failure is arguably the biggest risk involved for those in the food and beverage industry. As a restaurant owner, wholesale distributor, or grocery store supervisor, the food and beverages you prepare, manage, and sell make up almost your entire sales offerings. Without refrigeration, your products—and your profits—are highly compromised.
Those in the food and beverage industry need to keep perishable food out of the “Danger Zone” during an outage. Bacteria grows most rapidly between 40°F–140°F—roughly doubling in number in as little as 20 minutes. Without power, refrigeration systems will inevitably shut off and any perishable food products will become highly compromised.
The safest way to protect yourself in the event of an outage is by investing in a commercial generator. In the meantime, if you experience an outage, here are the best ways to protect your chilled and frozen products:
- Avoid opening your refrigerator/freezer doors
- Move any raw meat to the lowest shelves to avoid contamination of other chilled items
- Check the time to keep track of how long the power is out
- Look up mobile refrigeration units (costly, but necessary without emergency backup power)
Exhaust Fans: Maintaining Effective Ventilation
Restaurant owners know full well that the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) sets specific requirements for exhaust fans, hoods, and ductwork for commercial cooking equipment. Without a functioning ventilation system, restaurant kitchens will be forced to shut down.
No power means no exhaust fans—and no meals leaving the kitchen. While there may be specific safety measures you can take to reserve your refrigerated items, when it comes to keeping your ventilation system running, the only solution is to secure a backup power source. Speak to a professional about installing, maintaining, and running a reliable emergency power system.
Not sure which brand to choose? We recently published our Top 5 Standby Generators for Homes & Businesses.
Operational Equipment: Keeping Up Customer Communications
What do you do with a book full of reservations when the lights suddenly go out? How do you follow up with a delivery shipment on its way to your food storage warehouse when your refrigerators fail? As a supermarket supervisor, how do you contact your list of vendors when the power fails on delivery day?
Luckily, we live in a world with plenty of mobile communication options. You may be able to access your operational systems on your smartphone. Be sure to prepare yourself for a prolonged power outage on the job by keeping your operations streamlined and communication open and accessible:
- Keep your database backed up remotely
- Be sure to keep your phone—and a backup battery—charged at all times
- Stay up-to-date on inclement weather warnings
- Avoid the outage altogether by investing in a backup power system
Standby Generators: Preparing for the Worst Before It Occurs
So, what’s the best way to prevent a worst-case scenario in the event of an outage? Create an emergency plan specific to your business well ahead of potential power failures.
For those in the food and beverage industry, the risks are especially high. Take the first step toward effective emergency planning today to protect your business from potential outages.
Kristopher Schwind is the proud owner of National Standby Repair.