September is National Food Safety Month, which is organized by the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation. All month long, they're sharing food safety tips on the website, as well as helpful activities for you and your staff to do together to ensure the best practices for food safety at your restaurants.
To complement the sanitation and hygiene tips you'll get there, we thought we'd share how digital reporting can help your company avoid food safety disasters.
Why Food Safety Matters
Food safety is a huge deal. According to the CDC, each year, 1 in 6 Americans gets sick by consuming contaminated foods or beverages. Many different disease-causing microbes, or pathogens, can contaminate foods. So, there are many different foodborne infections. Additionally, poisonous chemicals and other harmful substances can cause foodborne diseases if they are present in food.
We have identified more than 250 different foodborne. Most of these diseases are infections, caused by a variety of bacteria, viruses, and parasites in food.
Other diseases are food poisonings, which is caused by harmful toxins or chemicals that have contaminated the food. For example, spoiled milk could cause food poisoning.
Raw or undercooked meats and dairy products, as well as water contaminated via human error (not washing hands) can carry the bacteria that cause food borne illnesses.
3 Ways to Use Digital Reporting to Increase Food Safety
Ensuring proper processes to prevent the growth and spread of bacteria is where digital reporting comes into play. Digital task lists, accountability, and transparency when it comes to cleaning and sanitation processes is what it's all about. Here are some more specific ways you can increase food safety by using a digital reporting platform.
1. Create Checklists for Open and Closing Duties
A digital reporting system can be much more than a replacement for your traditional logbooks. It doesn't have to be limited just to compliance reporting. For example, Squadle customers use the task management features of the Squadle Hub to create open and closing duty "checklists" for managers.
It's easy to forget the details or slack off on a cleaning procedure. But one slip-up can make the difference between a safe restaurant and a restaurant that gets shut down because of a food safety disaster.
Checklists deliver clear expectations and bring a sense of accountability. You can ensure that each step during the cleaning process and food receiving process is handled with attention to detail.
As long as every manager is using the same checklist at every restaurant location, there is no reason why you can't enforce the same processes across shifts and across stores.
2. Create Checklists for Training
Far too many restaurants take an ad-hoc approach to training and take it for granted that despite prior restaurant experience or life experience, they may not have learned some of the skills you think they already know. This can even be basic hygiene stuff - like thorough hand washing. As mentioned, just one slip up is all it takes.
District managers can make sure inconsistent knowledge doesn't become a problem at their restaurants. Create training checklists to standardize the employee onboarding process. This decreases the chance of any mistakes that could lead to food contamination, and probably will cut down a ton on the time it takes to train new employees.
3. Go High-Tech With Temperature Checks
The most advanced digital reporting systems use wireless sensor technology to automate some of the reporting process. For example, Squadle offers the Squadle Sense product.
These sensors can be placed in refrigerators to automatically track and record temperature information - and alert you when something is off.
What other ways do you think technology helps with food safety? Let us know on Twitter. Say hi to us @GetSquadle and tell us your thoughts.