Have you digitized your food safety management yet? The benefits of doing so become especially clear when you’re operating multiple stores. You can run your food safety program from a centralized system that applies procedures and training consistently across the different operations. In addition to helping you pinpoint and respond to hazards quickly, a centralized system ensures your guests have a consistent experience with your brand regardless of where they encounter it — a major bonus if your guests can currently taste differences in the food served at your various locations. It enables real-time data analysis and response across all operations, so an error you detect in one store is one you can quickly prevent in another. This automatically feeds into comprehensive reports that you can analyze across stores. You will more readily spot outliers that may need attention — something that also casts your brand in a favorable light with regulators when it comes to compliance.
Digital tools and other systems that enable kitchen automation may at first sound like items suited to deep-pocketed, well-resourced restaurants, but they can help any restaurant save potentially significant money in the long term – by minimizing the labor hours required for tasks and preventing unsafe food from reaching guests. One simple example: Bluetooth thermometers that take food temperatures and then automatically add the results to a digital HACCP log. This removes a time-consuming, error-prone manual process from the to-do list, gives you a ready-made record to present during inspections, and provides a means of prompting staff when temperatures approach the danger zone. The thermometers can alert staff to the problem so they can take immediate steps to ensure the food isn’t served to guests.
At a time when food prices are escalating faster than they have in 40 years, it’s all the more critical to minimize food waste. That includes not just measuring ingredients precisely and using nose-to-tail approaches to food preparation, but also being able to readily monitor the freshness of food and the presence of pathogens. As your kitchen becomes more connected, ensure you have the capability to be alerted promptly to the growth of bacteria or other indicators that your food isn’t as fresh as it could be. Kitchen sensors can now help track these things, and the prompts may be opportunities to not only avoid a food-safety incident, but also to cut costs by adjusting necessary ingredient quantities and take the load off of an already-stretched team.
If you’re still using manual checklists to manage food safety tasks, making the switch to digital can provide benefits in multiple areas. Beyond just helping you ensure tasks are completed, digital checklists can provide labor-saving assistance at scale – allowing you to view evidence of task completion across multiple locations at once, while also helping you predict food safety threats remotely. A Food Safety Tech report says that if a manager notes that the tables in the dining room are overdue to be cleaned, for example, they can alert employees to the problem and prompt action – something likely to be missed if that task were to be tracked manually.
Ongoing supply chain and labor challenges mean that many restaurants are trying to accomplish more tasks with fewer resources, but your food safety is one area where you can’t cut corners. As you try to operate in the leanest way possible, food safety tech can help you offload processes that are necessary and also require more labor hours when done manually. Looking across your operation, are there any remaining paper-and-pen processes that could be converted to digital? Are you receiving text or email alerts about the need to complete tasks on time? Can you log photos or other evidence of compliance as needed? Talk to Team Four if you need help in assessing where and how digital processes may help enhance your food safety. Difficult as the current environment is for restaurant operators, it could also be an ideal time to press the reset button on your food safety program – and to reinforce your commitment to it as you onboard new staff.