More than 15 of Luang Prabang’s top restaurants and hotels are undergoing preliminary and official audits by Lanith’s team, who are certified by the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH). These establishments aim to join the 18 eateries, who have already attained The Mark.
This year’s audits, which will be ongoing through September, finalize a process that began in July, when staff from Luang Prabang dining venues participated in Lanith’s CIEH-accredited Passport to Success training sessions.
After passing intensive training modules in food and workplace safety, they returned to their kitchens and fine-tuned them to meet global standards and reach The Mark.
Lanith Food Production Advisor Paul Burnett said the transformation in the participants’ perception of food handling and hygiene is remarkable. “They now know that learning is a life-long process. I am sure this will be reflected in the hotels and restaurants, where they work.”
Saffron Coffee’s Mike Ahrens agreed. “The staff have taken to it! They are proud to know about food safety and hygiene, and share it with others. I think a better understanding of concepts like bacteria allows them to embrace the practices we put in place like using different color cutting boards. Without the training, these requests are abstract and seem like unnecessary work.”
Rodolphe Gay from Manda de Laos pointed out, “This training brings awareness to our team on top of our current standard. They better understand the process and feel responsible and empowered.”
Mr Gay continued, “We want to constantly improve for customers, but we also want to constantly up-skill and improve our staff so that moving forward they can have more opportunities.”
Employees at Ock Pop Tok also attended Lanith’s CIEH training. “Continuing development and education is important for all of our staff,” said Katie Malloy, Senior Marketing Manager. “Food safety is very important; it takes ongoing education. We strive to help our team to learn and grow in their roles.”
Ms Malloy also saw a change in the staff’s attitude since attending the CIEH training. “The knowledge that was gained through training has influenced and changed our staff for the better — from dress code to preparation to food storage. Team members are better able to identify problems, and proactively find solutions.”
Reasons for wanting to receive The Mark point in the same direction. Mr. Ahrens stated, “Because we want to provide the best for customers and food safety is a massive part of it.”
Mr. Gay said, “The Mark shows we are following good business practice and good standards in hygiene.”
Ms Malloy said, “Ock Pop Tok strives to serve our guests the best ways possible. Part of that is through fresh, delicious food. Having the highest quality and cleanliness standards possible is a key part. The Mark is a way to continue to strive for those things.”
Those aiming for The Mark also see the benefits it provides for Luang Prabang tourism. “The Mark is a big part in helping Luang Prabang become a sustainable, long term, tourism destination. Safe food means happy tourists,” said Mr. Ahrens.
This is The Mark’s third year. In 2014, five hotels and restaurants were certified, and 13 more were added last year. The Mark is valid for two years, after which the workplaces will be retested to ensure sustainability.
The Mark will be awarded by the Ministry of Industry and Commerce later this year.