UL Everclean - San Fernando Business Journal_Article

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UL Everclean - San Fernando Business Journal_Article
NEWS & ANALYSIS
APRIL 21, 2014
SAN FERNANDO VALLEY BUSINESS JOURNAL 5
175 clients, including Sharky’s Woodfired
Mexican Grill in Westlake Village; Cheesecake Factory Co. in Calabasas and Stonefire
Grill in Westlake Village.
Other national, high-profile clients include
Panda Restaurant Group Inc. of Rosemead,
Whole Foods Market Inc. of Austin, Texas
and food services at the Kentucky Derby,
NASCAR, and Staples Center.
That kind of client base is a big reason the
company was acquired for an undisclosed
amount last year by UL LLC, the Northbrook,
Ill. safety and quality assurance company that
is best known for its Underwriters Laboratories
business that certifies the safety of electrical
devices. Everclean extended into the United
Kingdom this year and is looking at more
countries by 2015 as a result of its acquisition.
“Food safety is our passion,” said Bill Flynn,
operations director of Life and Health Sciences
for UL and a member of the Everclean Services
original management team who stayed after the
buyout. “Our clients want to do more than pass a
health department inspection; most of all, they
want to do the right thing. And that’s where we
come in. All we sell is safety.”
PHOTO BY THOMAS WASPER
Auditor: Executive Bill Flynn at Everclean Services’ offices in Agoura Hills, with instrument used to test food temperature.
Making the Grade
RESTAURANTS: Everclean Services helps client eateries pass health
inspections with its audit services that aim for an ‘A.’
S
By KARIN BUGGE
Contributing Writer
pecialty Restaurants Corp. takes its
L.A. County Health Department inspections seriously.
After all, as any diner can attest, anything
less than an “A” can raise second thoughts,
while a “C” will turn all but the bravest
patrons scampering for other options.
So the company, which operates 94th Aero
Squadron Restaurant in Van Nuys, Castaway
Restaurant in Burbank and Odyssey Restaurant in Granada Hills, won’t stand for anything
less than a top grade at its establishments.
And it doesn’t leave that to chance.
Rather, it contracts with Everclean
Services, an Agoura Hills consulting firm that
helps food establishments and vendors ensure
the safety of their food before it meets the
mouths of hungry customers – assessing a
facility’s food-handling practices from storage
to stove, and kitchen to table.
“If you think about it, we manufacture on the
minute, so when you order a steak we go manufacture it right then and there,” said Jim McKennon, chief operating officer of the Anaheim-
based restaurant group. “There are so many moving parts and pieces that exist in the kitchen, and
the things that can go wrong are numerous. Using
Everclean helps us make sure they don’t.”
Specialty has used Everclean for about 14
years, not long after the company was established in response to the county’s decision in
1998 to start issuing letter grades that restaurants
must prominently display in their windows.
The fear of a poor grade has helped the
company grow from a single inspector with
eight clients to 160 field technicians that
assess the food-handling practices of about
Food pathogens
Until the late 1990s, the restaurant-going public knew little about the thoroughness of any
establishment’s behind-the-scenes sanitation practices. The only obvious indicator was whether or
not the health department had shut it down.
And while it’s difficult to hang a dollar
sign on a health department’s A, B or C
grade, most studies agree dropping a letter
can result in a double-digit dip in revenue –
worse still if an establishment is directly associated with a food-borne illness.
To help restaurants deal with the new regulations, Everclean began operations in 1998 marketing a food-safety and sanitation auditing service to restaurants in the Southern California area.
It was founded by Jack McShane who previously served as chief executive and moved over
to join UL last year but retired in December.
Among its competitors are Steritech Group
Inc. of Orange and Ecolab of St. Paul, Minn.
The company, which has field offices in
Chicago, Boston and Enfield, Conn., conducts
about 50,000 audits a year with the goal of routing out conditions that breed and harbor any of
the 400 known food pathogens. Some of its customers operate hundreds or thousands of outlets.
“Our basic inspection is modeled on the
FDA food code, which is more comprehensive than health code requirements in many
states,” Flynn said. “In addition to this, clients
add their own, self-imposed expectations –
above and beyond the health code.”
A typical inspection might last two hours and
Please see RESTAURANTS page 69
Restaurants: Everclean Plans Overseas Expansion
Continued from page 5
the checklist can range between 100 to 1,000
items, depending on the client and the facility.
The price of an audit ranges from about $125
to $500.
The company declined to release profit or
revenue figures.
At its most basic, a site inspection looks for
opportunities of contamination, including floor,
wall, and ceiling cleaning and sanitation, employee health and hygiene, and food temperature from storage to preparation to serving.
For just a taste of the detail involved, consider employee hand-washing. It isn’t a yesor-no question. Hands must be washed for a
sufficient period of time, up to a specified
level of the arm, at the right temperature, with
towels of a particular type available within
measurable reach. And that’s the shortlist.
“We look at Everclean as a subject matter
specialist that deals with all things relative to
safety and sanitation. They have a big, long
checklist that covers all of those,” said
McKennon of Specialty Restaurants. “They
keep us from forming any bad habits and stay
focused on extraordinary cleanliness. As a
result, we pass all of our health inspections.”
Global strategy
Everclean also provides additional training
to employees on topics like recent food and
health laws.
Restaurant consultant Jerry Prendergast
with Prendergast & Associates in Culver
City said food-safety consultants bring additional knowledge the restaurateurs often lack.
“To begin with, they’re up-to-date on the latest
health department codes and requirements,” he
said. “The judging criteria are complicated, and
codes change constantly. It’s their job to keep up
with all of it and understand the implications.”
Flynn said the company works in “synergy” with public health departments, but most
clients hold themselves to an even higher
standard. The company is now grappling with
the big new challenge of “emerging
pathogens” – new bad bugs that are evolving.
That leaves Everclean with a lot on its plate.
After a year under the UL umbrella, Everclean
Services is building a global strategy that includes
audits for U.S. restaurant groups with franchises in
the U.K., Asia and Latin America. It is leveraging
UL’s existing footprint, which spans 150 facilities
serving clients in more than 100 countries.
“UL has evolved to meet the demands of an
expanding definition of safety and what safety
means to the consumer,” said Roy Lamothe
,
vice president of Global Food and Nutraceuticals
with UL, in an email. “Today, more consumers
are more concerned with the products that go into
their bodies and specifically the food they eat.
The acquisition of Everclean has helped us begin
to address challenges in the food industry/supply
chain where safety is a growing concern.”
Everclean is also adding occupational
safety and brand analysis to the menu, though
food safety will remain the core competency.
Laura O’Hare, a restaurant consultant
with Hospitality Collective in Los Angeles,
said no restaurant chain should think it can’t
improve its food safety procedures.
“I worked with Everclean when I was with
a large restaurant chain,” she said. “They were
very thorough in their inspections, spot inspections, and instructions. It was a wake-up call.”
Staff Reporter Stephanie Forshee contributed
to this story.