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Safety is a Science

Food Safety and Quality


Food safety and quality are at the core of our restaurants. Within Dine Brands, we work closely with key stakeholders across the organization and vendor base to develop and implement robust safety standards and procedures that are used within or benefit the restaurants and their products.

It is Applebee’s, Fuzzy’s and IHOP’s number one priority to provide safe and consistent food across the supply chain daily. We believe that our distributors and suppliers must be held to the same high-level standards as the restaurants. Food safety and quality are critical in how our Brands operate restaurants and the protocols in place ensure the health and safety of our team members and guests.


Supply Chain



Our mission is to protect Applebee’s, Fuzzy's and IHOP guests and the Brands by enabling our restaurants and Franchisees to provide safe and consistent food daily. Within the supplier selection process, we align with suppliers who are committed to the safety and consistency of the quality of food they produce. We fully understand the relationship between ourselves and the supplier and work diligently to keep an open line of communication through conferences, summits, and top-to-top meetings. Our supply base is bound by a Supplier Code of Conduct which details the expectation and parameters with which we expect our suppliers to govern themselves. Our suppliers are reviewed by industry-leading auditors and expected to receive a grade reflective of the industry's top-tier suppliers.


Every year our full supply base is provided with the Supplier Quality Program (SQP); this ensures our suppliers maintain the high-quality standards we expect and serves as a guide to meeting our non-negotiable requirements and expectations. Our suppliers are also expected to show exceptional Animal Welfare standards yearly by obtaining certifications from reputable third-party auditing agencies. Sustainable sourcing and reduction of our environmental impact are important, and our suppliers are expected to not only show prioritization in ESG but demonstrate yearly programs that also show an aligned commitment.



The safety and security of the food from the Supplier to the restaurant are critical to ensuring food safety. We believe that our distribution must be held to the same high-level standards as our supply base. Our suppliers must utilize transportation carriers that align with current industry standards. If a Cold Storage facility is used, the facility's Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) standards and industry standards must be followed. To guarantee safe conditions for the product to be transported, we utilize a Temperature Tail program to provide the temperature of the product and the product environment throughout the distribution process. Our utilization of real-time tracking provides visibility into the trailer temperature and product temperature every second of the trip and allows our internal team to address concerns immediately. Using Temperature Tails enables us to better track and maintain the food quality and safety of the product and decrease possible food loss in transportation. Upon receipt of the product, our team members ensure the integrity of the packaging and the product temperature before placing the product in its rightful storage condition and recharging the temperature monitors for the next delivery.



In addition to the guest experience in the restaurant, our food must also meet, if not exceed, guest expectations. As much as it is on the suppliers to produce and the distribution to deliver, it is on our internal team to ensure the consistency of the product and the overall quality of the foods being served. To aid in the overall consistency of our products, we take steps including:


  • In-person visits to the facilities to inspect production
  • On-site product auditing
  • Collaboration with suppliers on capabilities and equipment
  • Consistent conversations with the supplier
  • Product specific summits or reviews


Throughout the approval process of a product, we audit ingredients directly from the supplier over several production runs to know that the items which reach our restaurants adhere to our specifications. Our internal auditing plan has a tiered structure that emphasizes reviewing each product we serve throughout the year. Upon completion of the audit, the audit results are shared with our Culinary partners and suppliers to guarantee the product achieves the expected quality and culinary attributes. The results of these audits are shared with the supplier and reviewed internally to ensure that the level of acceptance compares against the standard previously set. Each of our proprietary products has a specification outlining the physical, chemical, microbiological, and packaging expectations for a product.


Information and Document Management

We take pride in the meals our brands serve and use innovation and technology to help maintain food quality and safety. Our Dine Brands Quality Assurance team uses a cloud-based third-party Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) technology to onboard and monitor food Suppliers and Distribution Centers' compliance with Dine Brands Quality programs. Suppliers and Distribution Centers must maintain an approved status based on Quality Assurance requirements to produce or deliver food to Applebee’s, Fuzzy’s and IHOP restaurants.


In addition to compliance monitoring, our software allows the collection, tracking, and monitoring of any food quality complaints submitted by restaurant managers to the Quality Assurance hotline, where we can quickly identify quality issue trends so that swift action can be taken.


Internal product monitoring verifies that products are compliant with quality specifications, and results are uploaded into the software platform for the Suppliers to review.




Standard Operating Procedures

As new ingredients and food are added to our menus, along with the introduction of new equipment or procedures, we conduct cross-functional expert reviews. This process ensures that food safety and quality are maximized, and the recipes and procedures can be executed effectively and efficiently in restaurants. New recipe and procedure testing occur in our Restaurant Support Center kitchens and lab and test restaurants across the country.


At Dine Brands, we uphold strong food safety, health and hygiene, and sanitation standards for our brands. We utilize one food safety standard operating procedure (SOP) manual for all three brands. This SOP manual integrates the most recent guidelines listed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Food Code and covers all food safety, health and hygiene, and sanitation standards associated with our brands. Standard operating procedures cover from when the time food is delivered to the back door to when it is served to our guests and everything in between, such as:


  • Team member health and hygiene
  • No bare hand contact with ready-to-eat food
  • Cold and hot food holding
  • Preventing cross-contamination
  • Cooking, cooling, and reheating
  • Chemical safety and sanitation


One key to ensuring that our SOPs are understood, trained, managed, and complied with is that all managers and team members with supervisor responsibilities running shifts must be a Certified Food Protection Manager. The Certified Food Protection Manager Certification program must be evaluated and listed by a Conference for Food Protection (CFP) recognized accrediting agency as conforming to the Conference for Food Protection Standards for Accreditation of Food Protection Manager Certification Programs.


Food Safety Evaluations and Health Department Inspections

To maintain the food quality and safety that our guests expect from our restaurants, we partner with a third-party food safety auditing company to conduct multiple routine Food Safety Evaluations (FSE) each year in our Applebee’s, Fuzzy’s and IHOP restaurants. These evaluations conducted by food safety experts not only measure compliance to our food safety, health and hygiene, and sanitation standards but also provide onsite coaching and training to minimize restaurant risks. The FSE is based on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Food Code standard Food Establishment Inspection Report, which is the official regulatory authority document regarding restaurants' compliance with FDA requirements.


In addition to Food Safety Evaluations, we use a Health Department Intelligence (HDI) program to track restaurant health department inspections from every domestic location and standardize the results. We can better identify any food safety issues or trends by capturing this information and taking targeted action.