Kitchen Tech – Reduce Waste, Save Money, Ensure Compliance
This is our first guest blog post from Checkit customers and industry experts. Thanks to Wesley Manson.
Over the years working in contract catering, I’ve come across many systems and technologies which aimed to improve our processes and procedures – with varying degrees of success. One of the best decisions I made, however, was to introduce a digital system of compliance records management at a site I managed.
“A digital system of compliance records management” doesn’t sound too sexy, but let me briefly explain what it did. It consisted of food probes, fridge thermometers and digital tablets, all linked to a cloud-based data recording and processing system and user front-end. Essentially, it replaced all compliance paperwork that was previously produced on site – no more manual fridge temperature checks, no more chefs writing down cooking temperatures on little bits of paper, no more forgetting and guessing at temperatures later on. When chefs recorded food temperatures these were automatically stored, when surfaces were cleaned this was recorded, when deliveries were made this was recorded. All data was consolidated and easy to retrieve, with customisable dashboards and alerting.
When discussing the system with the provider, they told me that the most common push back from kitchen teams and management was that they felt it was a system designed to “get them fired” for any compliance mistakes. However, having trialled the system I found my kitchen team really liked it – it was called a “game changer”. My head chef found that his team really started to think about food safety and see it as a process rather than a tick-box exercise. It also helped to enforce things like regular surface cleaning through its alerting functionality.
The benefits of a digital food safety management system
Introducing the system brought many benefits. I have always personally sought to reduce food wastage as much as possible at my sites, and the system was fantastic for that – for example, a failing fridge will trigger an alert and allow for remedial action before the food inside is spoilt – reducing waste and saving money. EHO audits also became a much easier affair – my inspector loved the system as it made it so simple to understand our records. As contract caterers, we also have a huge responsibility to ensure the welfare of their employees (think about the damage you could do to a company if you gave half the staff food poisoning!) and improving our compliance and health & safety processes goes further to ensure that client employees are safe.
One note on implementation – a change like this needs time for the kitchen team to adjust to. When I introduced it, I ran digital and paper-based systems in tandem for a few months to allow the team to adapt, and I let the head chef tell me when he was happy that the team were comfortable. I think a change like this will not work if forced upon a team who haven’t gotten used to it.
Technology has advanced to the next level
The system that I used – Checkit – isn’t the first of its kind on the market. We had tried similar systems in the past but always reverted to paper records. However, we seem to be at the point where technology has advanced to make the promise of the system a reality. The outlay was relatively low, the implementation was smooth and the outcome was as we had envisaged. I’m sure there are other systems out there apart from the one I used which work just as well, so I would encourage anyone who may have been burned by trying such systems in the past to have another look – with today’s technology you can realise the same benefits that I did.
Want to learn more? Contact Checkit and find out how digitising Operations Management can boost the performance for your business.