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Dine At Your Own Risk: 3 Restaurant Food Waivers That Will Surprise You

by | Sep 3, 2019

You probably remember a time when payroll data had to be filed manually. The paperwork was insane. Today, many restaurants use cloud and mobile app technology to manage sales, inventory, and employee data. Yet, new challenges abound. To differentiate from competitors, restaurants are resorting to over-the-top offerings to protect their market share. In that light, restaurant food waivers are no longer an option but a necessity.

It may sound crazy. However, some dishes actually require waivers before they can be consumed! It’s no joke: Failing to hand that little slip of paper to your diners could subject your restaurant to an expensive lawsuit.

Is your restaurant prepared for a brand-damaging trial? If not, read on.

Making Sense Of Restaurant Food Waivers

restaurant food waiver is a legal document. Diners must sign it to confirm that they understand the dangers associated with eating a particular dish. By signing, they absolve your restaurant of any liability for food-borne illnesses and health complications.

This may seem like overkill. After all, how dangerous can food be? Your own friends don’t sign waivers when they eat at your home, so why should your restaurant require them?

Waivers Protect Your Business

Generally, waivers are associated with food that’s extremely spicy, hazardous, or deadly.

For example, you should have your customers sign waivers before they eat 4lbs of ghost pepper chicken wings. If you serve Kæster Hákarl, you’ll want that waiver. Trust us: Iceland’s national dish is essentially fermented meat from the toxic Greenland shark.

And if you’re thinking of making pizza with Casu Marzu, think again. That’s a Sardinian maggot-infested cheese that has a distinct flavor and takes an acquired taste to appreciate. This delicacy is so dangerous that the EU has banned it.

Want to serve it? Your customers will need to sign that waiver.

But, here’s the million dollar question — why do restaurants continue to serve extremely spicy or hazardous foods?

Why Restaurants Serve Dangerous Foods: Diners Love It

First things first: What’s a dangerous food anyway?

Let’s take a look at fugu — the Japanese pufferfish. If this fish is incorrectly butchered, it turns into a lethal culinary delicacy. Fugu contains tetrodotoxin in its liver, ovaries, and intestines, which has no known antitoxin and can kill someone within hours. In fact, between 1996 and 2006, 34 – 66 people were poisoned annually due to fugu.

While fugu may be a part of Japan’s culinary tradition, restaurants outside of the island nation need waivers in order to serve it. The waiver protects restaurants in case someone gets sick or dies as a result of tetrodotoxin poisoning. By all indications, it’s the actual butchering of the fish that’s the issue — not the cooking.

Generally, fugu chefs must be licensed to carry out the delicate work of preparing fugu. In recent years, however, Tokyo has relaxed its ordinances regarding the sale and preparation of fugu. In 2016, some fugu enthusiasts insist that a local fisheries firm has perfected the art of raising fugu that ensures the liver is free from tetrodotoxin. Health experts are incredulous, but the debate continues.

Demand Is High For Spicy Foods

Restaurant food waivers are needed for unusually spicy foods in New York City.

Spicy foods may just be a part of your restaurant’s attraction. However, there’s a difference between “Ow, my tongue is burning” and “Please bathe my mouth in holy water.” You may want a waiver for the latter. Sure, spicy foods are popular. In fact, flavoring companies show that consumer interest in spicy foods has increased annually for the past 10 years!

Spicy foods may be so much a part of your restaurant DNA that you can’t imagine doing without it. All things considered, it’s fun to serve and fantastic for your revenue takings. What’s not to like?

Restaurant Waivers Are For Food Challenges, Too

No doubt you’ve heard of food challenges or competitive eating contests. The popular TV series Man vs. Food and famous YouTubers like Matt Stonie, Furious Pete, and L.A. Best have certainly inspired global interest in these competitions.

And, where there’s fame — there’s money.

Here’s one challenge Adam Richman lost in the TV Series Man vs. Food: the “Fire In Your Hole” chicken wing challenge at Munchies 420 Cafe in Sarasota, Florida. Adam was charged with eating 10 chicken wings doused in a sauce containing ghost chili extract, cayenne pepper, habaneros, and crushed red pepper flakes.

Yes, sirree: restaurant waivers are for food challenges, too.

Why Restaurants Love Food Challenges

  • They can drive traffic. Let’s start with your city. When you create a food challenge, people in your local community are going to hear about it. They may be a local group of frat boys ready to tackle that 55″ pizza or a local eater looking to show off his competitive eating skills.
  • They can get the word out about your restaurant, fast. Eating contests are extremely popular. The Vortex Club’s Coronary Bypass Burger Challenge video has 500k views on YouTube. Meanwhile, Steak Restaurant’s 92 oz Man vs. Steak Challenge video has 2.5 million views. All things considered, the phenomenon has spread across the globe. A video of Pepina’s Breakfast Challenge in Dublin has 650k views. Here’s the kicker — other people make the videos! If you have a great food challenge, publicity comes easy.
  • They provide other diners free entertainment. Watching a person try to shove 30 ghost pepper chicken wings down in 20 minutes? Sounds like entertainment to us! And your diners will think so, too. Did you know that 61% of adults spend money on restaurants for the experience? Food contests can enhance that experience 9Fold.
  • Food challenges can help you nail your digital strategy. People love tweeting mouthwatering pictures of food. However, taking pics of mountains of food is even better. Forget #foodporn; your followers are going to #foodmountain all of your delicious courses. And, that’s an easy way to win the digital war. The more people talk about your food on social media — the better off you are. In fact, creating food that’s “taggable” can single-handedly increase profits beyond your wildest dreams.

How do You Create Restaurant Food Waivers?

That’s a great question! There are a few ways to create a waiver. You can hire a lawyer to draft waivers for each challenge, or you could simply use 9Fold’s digital portal to create and print waivers instantly.

Your choice!

Now, let’s take a look at some of the most popular spicy concoctions and food mountains that require diners to sign a waiver before they dig in.

1. XXX Wings

Remember that time you bit into a habanero to impress your friends? This is sort of the same experience. Except, instead of a nice little bite, you’ll be filling your mouth with molten lava. While that tongue-burning habanero has an impressive 100,000 – 350,000 score on the Scoville scale, the XXX Wings score over 2 million. That’s roughly 20x hotter!

Jake Melnick’s Corner Tap has been featured on “Last Call With Carson Daily” and ABC’s “Nightline”. Additionally, the wings were voted Best Hot Wings at Chicago Wingfest in 2010 and 2012.

Why do diners need to sign a waiver?

When you’re having customers eat chicken wings hotter than the surface of the sun — it’s a good idea to cover your legal bases. While someone probably isn’t going to die from eating hot peppers, they can certainly feel like they are.

Two journalists from The Argus attempted a similar XXX challenge, this time with burgers. Both of them ended up in the hospital. One reported: “I was in so much pain I was telling people I felt like I was dying.” The other reported that “it was hard to walk” and that he was “hyperventilating so much [his] hands… seized up.”

You can read the full story here.

The last thing you want is for your super-spicy restaurant dish to result in an expensive lawsuit. Waivers protect you.

2. Cold Sweat and Exit Wound Ice Cream

Let’s go over the core ice cream flavors. You’ve got classic vanilla, chocolate, mint, hot fudge brownie, strawberry shortcake, and, of course, a plethora of other delicious flavors. Finally, you have 3-chili Exit Wound. This ice cream is so spicy that it’s been featured on Food Network and major news channels. It has also received tons of social media publicity. The peppers in Exit Wound have undergone marination in the aptly named “Insanity Sauce” and “Mega Death Hot Sauce.”

Staple flavors at Sunni Sky in Angier, NC, both Cold Sweat plus Exit Wound Ice Cream aren’t even food challenges; they’re just unusual ice-cream flavors.

Why do diners need to sign a waiver?

Sure, you probably don’t need a waiver for that delicious Thai dish you serve. However, that Thai dish doesn’t have habaneros, hot sauce, pecan peppers, and ghost chili sprinkles.

Trust us: Cold Sweat and its cousin, Exit Wound, are insanely spicy, where ice creams go. So, it’s unsurprising for the ice cream shop to err on the side of caution and require waivers before its customers tuck in.

3. WeatherVane’s Tsunami Challenge

Not only do you have to sign a waiver to participate in this challenge, but you also get a free trip to the hospital if you win. Now that’s what we call a challenge! To win, you have to eat a seven-pound omelet dish with sausage, ham, bacon, cheese, mushrooms, tomatoes, onions, green peppers, and spinach. Plus, it comes with hashbrowns, toast, and pancakes on the side.

WeatherVane is definitely going all the way with this challenge.

Why do diners need to sign a waiver?

Since you’re trying to get diners to shove 7 pounds of cholesterol-filled eggs, sausage, cheese, and bacon down their throats within a limited time frame, we’d say a waiver is needed. You want to keep your legal bases covered. Would someone actually file a lawsuit for injuries sustained from a food challenge? It’s happened before. A 20-year-old girl’s parents sued a university for failing to prevent their daughter’s death in a pancake-eating contest. They maintain that the university failed to provide access to medical personnel during the challenge. As a result, the girl died from choking.

What 9Fold Can Do For You

Restaurant food waivers are a great way to protect your business from lawsuits when you serve extremely spicy foods or host food challenge events. Sure, some restaurants may never need waivers. However, if you plan on starting a challenge to drive revenues or decide to serve up an unusually spicy dish, you’ll want to protect yourself.

Are you looking for an easy way to create, print, and maintain these waivers? What if the ability to print waivers was baked into your high-performing, branded, and profit-driving online ordering system?

With 9Fold, you can create those waivers in minutes. Also, you get an intuitive online ordering system to leverage to your advantage. Want to know more? Contact us today to get a free trial.

Own a restaurant? Let’s chat.

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