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How much money have you lost in the past 24 hours? How much food has gone bad and how much time was wasted in your kitchen?
We all understand the paramount importance of food safety when it comes to our brand’s image and our customers’ health, but do you really understand the danger of ignoring food safety as it pertains to your bottom line?
Food contamination costs U.S. consumers around $55 billion every year. . . so it’s time to ask yourself . . . what is it costing you?
The good news is that after an initial investment for the proper food monitoring technology, it can cost a lot less.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at some frequently overlooked safety threats that can arise in our industry and how to deescalate them.
Lack of real-time temperature monitoring
It goes without saying that food temperature must be maintained within an acceptable range at all times — but the fact is that many restaurants and chains fail to implement the kinds of controls needed to prevent perishables from spoiling.
It’s just not enough to place a standard sensor in the cooler. Those kinds of devices may show the current temperature accurately, but they cannot provide a full picture of the climate conditions in your storage container. Not all sensors can transmit through tough materials like stainless steel or concrete or continue to record important temperature data during the wake of a power outage. You need to know when your temperatures are dropping or rising in order to take immediate action and reduce the amount of spoiled food, rotted time, and wasted money.
The obvious solution to this is to install some kind of 24-hour temperature monitoring device with logging capabilities. But even this solution doesn’t go far enough, because it can’t stop these incidents from happening in the first place. Even if the ruined food is detected before anyone consumes it, you still have to deal with a lot of waste that could have been avoided.
What you really need is this: a 24/7 real-time monitoring system that will send alerts as soon as a problem arises. You can set up a web-enabled device that can receive notifications (email, text, or even a phone call from a live agent) when temperatures drop outside the accepted range. With this system in place, you can reduce surprises and spoilage.
Unreliable paper checklists
Checklists may sound like an entry-level tool that should be discarded past a certain point, but this assumption — reasonable though it might seem — can lead to serious problems for those in the food handling business. Experienced employees may have spent years performing all the steps required of them, to the point where the procedure is practically second nature, but mistakes can and do still happen, especially if you’re still using old-fashioned paper checklists. Sometimes the need to meet a fast-approaching deadline leads to errors and oversights. And what about those occasions when you have to rely on new employees? Or third-party contractors who aren’t familiar with standard protocols?
You shouldn’t gamble with safety like this. You need a dependable checklist system. Digital checklists, readily accessible by mobile devices, allow your employees to confirm that all steps have been completed. This tool also enables you to track who completed which steps, and at what time. Depending on the specific type of digital checklist that you use, it may include a host of other features as well, such as warming and cooling logs, brand-specific handling guidelines, and self-auditing capabilities.
Absence of regional controls
Food safety tends to resist one-size-fits-all solutions — what works well at one site may not be appropriate at another. One example of this phenomenon is the tendency toward variation in regional safety standards.
If you have multiple locations to manage, you may have a different set of safety requirements for each site. For instance, you may have a facility that must adhere to county health inspection laws that do not apply to other locations. Or you may have a facility that has a history of failing to meet one or more parameters and therefore needs special attention. To manage these differing requirements, it’s important to use a food safety solution that allows you to adjust your digital checklists for each location as needed. Fortunately, this is another feature that a first-rate food monitoring solution can provide. These solutions can be easily customized so you can accommodate the dissimilar compliance needs of your facilities, no matter where they are located.
The importance of food safety is no secret – but it can be easy to forget the growing number of consequences that ignoring food safety can have on your business, your brand, your customers, and your wallet.
It can cost you, and others, a whole lot more tomorrow, next week, or two years from now. So make sure to play it smart and play it safe.
About the author: Tom Woodbury is vice president of national accounts at ComplianceMate, a company that stands at the forefront of food safety and HACCP compliance technology. The ComplianceMate system includes a variety of tools — including digital checklists, wireless sensors, and real-time temperature monitoring — that collectively power a state-of-the-art food safety compliance program for the modern restaurant.
Tom is also an award-winning media personality, published author who has appeared on ShopNBC, ABC, and Huffington Post Live where he has presented and demonstrated a wide array of food prep and safety products and technologies to national audiences.
At ComplianceMate, Tom’s wide-ranging expertise bolsters the company’s ongoing efforts to develop cutting-edge food safety and temperature monitoring technology for use in commercial kitchens and food service organizations. ComplianceMate, which is trademarked, revolutionizes how restaurants conduct food safety and compliance checklists by automating and digitizing checklists and generating valuable data that restaurants can use to prevent food safety incidents and simplify HACCP compliance. In pursuing its mission to advance the state of food safety technology, ComplianceMate is pushing the industry past outdated, unreliable paper-based solutions and into the world of 24/7 electronic monitoring systems.
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