Panda Express, which has over 2,000 locations, is the winner of the 2021 Excellence in Food Safety Award, presented Wednesday by and Steritech. In its third year, the award celebrates organizations that have fully committed to ensuring food safety, said Steritech President Doug Sutton.

“You don’t get to be the largest Chinese fast casual chain in the U.S. without doing quite a few things right, and food safety is definitely one of those things Panda is doing right,” he said during the virtual awards gala, which also revealed that Florida-based BurgerFi won this year’s Fast Casual Top 100 Movers & Shakers. “Food safety begins at the top, and (Panda Express) believes it’s so essential to guest experience that the responsibility sits with their chief brand officer.”

Each region has a food safety champion, who not only tracks food safety metrics but also celebrates great performances.

“They’ve also innovated special equipment, investing substantial resources in ensuring that food safety can be continued across its line,” Sutton said. “With its incredible emphasis on developing people, Panda Express has gone to great lengths to weave food safety into every element of its culture. When you add this to its deep-rooted belief in providing an unparalleled guest experience, you have a recipe for a winning commitment to food safety.

Peggy Cherng, Panda Express co-founder and co-CEO, accepted the award on behalf of Panda.

Chipotle Mexican Grill and Mooyah Burgers and Fries earned honorable mentions, which Chipotle VP of Food Safety Kerry Bridges and Mooyah President Tony Darden accepted at the gala.

How it works

The selection process for the award began with a nomination survey in which nominees provided information about their food safety culture, policies, practices and innovations. A third-party marketing consultancy and research firm then conducted an independent assessment of the nominations to determine how they aligned with Steritech’s “Seven Pillars of Food Safety,” which included:

  1. Senior Leadership Commitment and Engagement.
  2. Food Safety Communications.
  3. Defined Standards and Procedures.
  4. Training.
  5. KPIs / Scorecard.
  6. Oversight Program.
  7. Positive Recognition.

From there, the third-party firm selected seven semi-finalists and conducted in-depth interviews to determine the winners.

Download the free report to learn about the winners as well as how to incorporate the seven pillars into your own operations.

About Networld Media Group

Founded in 2000, Networld Media Group is a leading business-to-business (B2B) media communications company specializing in digital media, associations and events in the tech, banking, retail and food service industries. Online properties include,,,,,,,, and Annual events include the Fast Casual Executive Summit, the Restaurant Franchising & Innovation Summit, the Bank Customer Experience Summit (BCX), the Interactive Customer Experience Summit (ICX) and the Self-Service Innovation Summit.

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