You’ll notice tablets at many leading restaurants nowadays, acting like assistant managers, reminding employees precisely what needs done and in what order.
This is no accident.
Tablet-based software offers a real-time look at what’s going on in their business, down to the level of individual tasks.
Corporate can access incident reports as they happen. Managers can see exactly who’s accomplishing what (and who isn’t). And employees better engage with the company’s vision by acting out tasks precisely as they’ve been instructed.
In a word, digital operations helps ensure the rubber meets the road.
That’s why we’ve outlined five of the most common food safety violations, and offered clear hardware and software solutions that make them easier to correct them.
Improper Cooling of PHF/TCS Foods
This violation generally happens when a hot food isn’t properly prepared for cooling (eg. cutting a roast into smaller portions, failing to stir soups, or putting hot items directly into the walk in). Not only does it stunt the cooling process of that item, but bacteria or temperature changes can contaminate nearby foods as well.
Address improper cooling by instantiating a clear, step-by-step procedure for each scenario. Restaurants like Chick-fil-A now use iPads to house a library of videos that employees can access anytime they encounter an unfamiliar procedure, like how to cool certain items. This ensures proper execution even when managers are unavailable, and can be updated by corporate in one click.
Improper Labeling of Food Made On Site
The FDA requires that, if a food is prepared on site and will not be used within 24 hours, it must be labeled with the use-by date. But it’s not missing labels that result in violations here. Many businesses still rely on handwritten labels, meaning inaccurate and illegible labels are one of the main culprits of this violation.
Failed labeling often reveals itself in two forms: either handwritten labels, or use of a flawed food rotation program (like color dots). Most owner-operators who’ve looked into saving on labels choose to integrate labeling with their operations software. Any software company worth their salt in the restaurant space will offer labeling as part of a comprehensive platform, at which point you simply compare costs.
Improper Hot and Cold Holding (Temperatures)
You’ll get cited for this violation when foods are exposed to the Temperature Danger Zone (TDZ) for too long, or when foods are left in the refrigerator past their expiration date. Holding potentially hazardous foods (PHF) within a given range is crucial for limiting bacteria, and consequently, contamination.
Bluetooth temperature probes record perfectly accurate temperatures and show managers that protocol was followed. Automated temperature readings go straight to the cloud, meaning they don’t route through an employee who could influence the reading. Not to mention that, come the next Health Department visit, you’ll be able to access (and print) every temp recording taken in your restaurant.
Contaminated Food Contact Surfaces and Utensils
Utensils, cutting boards, and ice storage are common problems here, but any surface that encounters food—however briefly—will qualify. This violation stems from both poor training and lack of execution/task management. Only once you have developed a clear HACCP plan, down to the individual tasks themselves, can you see they’re carried out.
Dynamic checklists are immensely helpful when it comes to cleaning. They remind your team what to do, and when to do it. For example, when an employee completes a task for which there’s contamination protocol, they’ll see food safety task requirements as part of that list. Depending on your platform, you can even get notifications when those tasks aren’t completed.
Improper Hand Washing / Hand Contamination
Pretty straightforward violation. Hand washing is a practice that’s clearly up to par, or clearly not.
Hand washing is the most noticeable part of any food safety culture. While most food industry environments are too fast-paced to make it a checklist item, you can use an in-store tablet to create reminders. Most comprehensive software solutions allow you to display reminders and announcements as each employee clocks into work. Because these notifications require a response, you can ensure every employee who’s clocked in has read your message.
As is apparent by now, digitized operations offers a much smoother relationship with the Health Department. Not only do you eliminate human error, but you maintain accurate, accessible records that will expose weaknesses in your food safety process before the health inspector shows up at your door.
If you're exploring technology to address critical food safety issues, we can help. Jolt provides both hardware and software to over 10,000 locations just like yours.