It was the World Food Safety Day just recently (7 June), so it’s the perfect time to take a look at some of the things that can create challenges with running a sustainable and efficient food safety process in an institutional kitchen or a food service chain setting.
And let’s face it, managing an effective food safety and quality process isn’t always all that simple. An HACCP approach is an effective foundation for much of it, of course, with the identification of hazardous points in the process and thinking up preventive measures to counter the hazards.
But the unfortunate truth is that there are some hazards you can prepare for but which are very difficult to prevent. They are usually those that are involuntarily created by human error, equipment malfunction or other such mishaps.
So, for the next three weeks, let’s look at the top three challenges which can pose a risk for food safety – we’ll consider especially institutional kitchens and chain restaurants this time, because in these kinds of larger settings the small troubles caused by one small mistake have the possibility to snowball into a significant problem if not caught in time.
But because it’s no use just talking about the problems if you aren’t willing to suggest solutions, we’ll be looking at some possible solutions to these risks, and also at how solving them can benefit both food safety as well as process efficiency. So, without further digression, lets take a look at some of these irritants that keep costing you wasted time, money and work. This week we’ll start with how to solve the problem of people making mistakes.
Challenge no. 1: People make mistakes and forget things.
Even the best-designed food safety process can go amiss if the actual people who are doing the work make mistakes or forget to do the things they are supposed to. For example, food safety gets compromised when an employee forgets to move the meals he’s been preparing to the cold room for chilling, or a cook is too busy to remember measuring the temperature of the food she’s preparing and consequently signs off undercooked meals for delivery, risking food poisoning or worse.
Now in both cases everything may well be fine, food safety -wise. But even if the only problem was that the monitoring task is not recorded, this leaves gaps in the HACCP risk monitoring data. And this in turn leads to missing data in the HACCP audit and ultimately runs the risk of getting fined or shut down for regulation violations
These mistakes and more become a problem precisely because creating a standard food safety process is a good solution for preventing risk systematically, but human error, coupled with too little or unclear guidance and management, can also easily derail the system. One way to answer this is extensive training for the staff, extensive scheduling with prewritten instructions lifted from the HACCP plan and other such measures.
How to Solve Food Safety and Quality?
But is this an efficient use of work time? Obviously, it’s good to train your staff to perform their duties successfully, but this still leaves the risk of absent-mindedness. And what is to be done with new employees or part-timers and other temporary help? Fortunately, there is a way to adopt a fail-safe into the food safety process, which will take care of most of the effort for you.
It not only solves the problem of possible forgetfulness, but also answers the question what is to be done with new and temporary workers, who haven’t yet gone through the same training as your regular staff. But let’s see how this would work within Sensire’s food safety and quality solution:
Now, the idea of extensive scheduling is a good one as long as it doesn’t take the form of writing stuff down on calendar where no-one is going to look at it again. Our system solves this with creating scheduled and employee-specific daily, weekly, monthly etc. tasks in a cloud interface, which are then sent daily to a smart app which tells the staff what to do that day, and gives guidance and set limits for the actions and measurement that are to be performed. This way, the staff will always know what they are supposed to be doing on any given day.
From Problems to Benefits
Of course, no method can completely eliminate the possibility of mistakes and forgetting to do things. But a digital, automatic and comprehensive application, which also gives guidance to the staff on what to do if something is going wrong, has a much better chance to succeed in this than almost any other method.
Also, if you happen to need some part-time workers for seasonal work or temping during employee vacations, once you set their duties up in the cloud, the app will deliver the correct tasks to them as well, and even give guidance on how to perform those tasks!
It’s not just about making sure the staff knows what to do, but the effectiveness of those actions. The overall benefit of this kind of digital approach to handling the food safety and quality process is very appealing: with immediate information and guidance it is possible to ensure that food waste is prevented and time is saved by concentrating on the correct tasks.
And finally, because the app will demand entering measuring results and other safety and quality data for the tasks which are preset to the employees, there will be no gaps in safety records, which will be a great help with regulators and saves time on reporting internally as well.
This is true especially if you run a chain of food services, no matter if they are restaurants or institutional kitchens – the whole set of records that is available from all locations is also a great place to look for process development possibilities, giving further options for optimization and savings.
Next week we’ll continue on this topic by looking at how to solve problems with equipment failure and inefficiency, so come back then to find out more ways in which to turn problems into profits in a food service setting. Or if you want to know right away how digitalizing food safety processes can help in your operation, we’re always ready to help, so get in touch!