Tag : Food Safety

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Due Diligence and Due Care for Restaurant Managers

 

I believe that the hospitality industry should adopt Due Diligence and Due Care as management concepts that we fully embrace and implement into our business processes.  Due Diligence and Due Care are words associated with investing, and contracts. In my last position working in cyber security, those terms were defined as:

  • Due Diligence: Identifying threats and risks.
  • Due Care: Acting upon identified threats to mitigate risks.
In the context of restaurant management, I look at Due Diligence as doing what it takes to serve safe food in a safe environment.  I didn’t say delicious food I said safe food.  Meaning that we use HACCP principles to ensure that the food products that we are serving have been manufactured, delivered, stored, and prepared safely.
Most restaurants today are, or should be, conducting daily inspections of their facilities paying attention for critical food safety violations.  Making sure food is stored safely, chemicals are stored away from food, temperature discipline is maintained both in cooling and heating.  We aren’t introducing foreign contaminants into the food preparation areas and that all of our employees are healthy and trained in proper hygene are just some of the areas that we should be inspecting every shift.  At OpsAnalitica we are learning that daily restaurant audit checklists are a key to keeping consumers safe.
250X250 LI
As we have seen recently with the Chipotle e-coli outbreak they don’t even know which item(s) caused the outbreak at several of their restaurants earlier this month.  This is speculation on my part, but since the e-coli outbreak happened at several locations it would make sense that it wasn’t one person that got everyone sick but that a food item that was shipped to multiple restaurants was responsible.  It will be interesting to learn what caused this outbreak.
Using a restaurant checklist app to conduct daily checklists and managers following up on all violations is the best and cheapest way to perform our Due Diligence in providing safe food for our customers.  Due Diligence is only half of the battle, Due Care is the other half.
Due Care procedures are the processes that you have in place for when you identify an issue.  The key to Due Care is consistent and documented remediation of issues.
You may be familiar with the phrase “It’s not the crime, it’s the cover-up” that gets you into trouble.  That is especially true when you are doing your Due Diligence, conducting a pre-shift inspection, and you identify an issue but then you don’t correct the issue safely.
An example:  a restaurant supervisor completes a temperature log for a walk-in refrigerator, and records a 65-degree temperature.  The person completing the temperature log isn’t aware that this temperature is in the danger zone, doesn’t do anything to fix the issue, they just serve the food and they get a lot of people sick.
We as a nation are very intolerant of companies that had enough forethought to identify a critical area on an checklist but then not have a plan to fix the issue when the dangerous conditions are identified.  We find that unacceptable, and for good reason, you wouldn’t want to fly in a plane where the pilot knew a wing was missing but decided to take-off.
In the above example, we would hold the company responsible for not having the systems in place to notify management that their was an issue and not training their supervisor well enough to know that a 65-degree walk-in is dangerous.  Using a restaurant checklist app that could automatically email an exception report of temperature violations to the appropriate managers would be a great first step in providing due care.  Correcting the issue and documenting what actions were taken would close the loop on this issue and fulfill HACCP Rule #7 for documentation.
Look at your real-world experience, we understand when people make mistakes or accidents happen.  We get furious and litigious when mistakes are made and the people responsible are clueless when they should have known better.  We get even with businesses that profit while their customers get hurt.
As hospitality professionals, we have to make sure that our organizations, size doesn’t matter, have well documented Due Diligence and Due care processes in place.  More importantly we have to train, consistently follow, and document those processes in their application.  It is when we consistently apply our processes that we have a chance of protecting our brand and our businesses when we make a mistake.
If you would like to learn more about how conducting daily checklists can help you run more profitable restaurants, I invite you to download our free white paper here.

In-N-Out Rightfully Protecting Their Brand

By now most of you have heard that In-N-Out Burger has filed a lawsuit against DoorDash for delivering their delicious burgers without their permission.

On a side note I’ve been craving In-N-Out ever since this story broke. Double double animal style is near impossible to beat. Unfortunately, there isn’t a location within a reasonable distance to St. Louis.

Anyway back to business. I completely understand their stance on the issue. In-N-Out has built an amazing brand with a very loyal fan base. It’s built on simplicity, scarcity (outside of the west coast), delicious burgers, and “hidden” menu items. They don’t want another company representing their brand without any rules.

There’s a lot of control that is lost by handing your food off to a third party for delivery:

  • Food safety – holding and handling properly.
  • Food quality – nobody goes to In-N-Out for cold limp fries, thin milkshakes, and a cold burger on a soggy bun.
  • Customer service – I’m not saying that In-N-Out is the Nordstom of the restaurant industry when it comes to customer service, but I’m sure they have standards that they train their staff to follow.
  • They may not want delivery to be part of their model. Maybe part of their brand is the experience of going to a location and ordering a burger the old fashioned way.

All of this goes out the window when a third party is delivering your food, especially when the relationship wasn’t entered into mutually. It’s tough enough to outsource a portion of your business when you want or need to because of the control issue. But when you hire a third party you can put in agreements that will hold them accountable if they are in default.

In the In-N-Out situation they are putting a lot at risk with basically zero reward. If someone gets sick or gets cold food they aren’t going to blame DoorDash. They are going to look at the bag and see In-N-Out Burger, that’s who gets blamed.

In addition to potential brand damage with bad press there’s huge liability potential. If someone gets sick now In-N-Out is involved in a lawsuit for something that may have not been their fault.

The more you can control the better off you are in the long run. In-N-Out doesn’t need delivery to boost sales. They are doing the right thing by nipping this in the bud and stopping it before it becomes a problem.

Food safety is a concern for all of us, I would like to invite you to watch our Free Webinar on Writing SMART Pre-shift Inspections by clicking here.

Tough Year for Chipotle

It’s been a tough year for Chipotle. From pork supplier issues to a salmonella outbreak in Minnesota, a norovirus issue in California, and now the latest e coli outbreak in the pacific northwest closing some 43 locations.

Now you can’t blame all of these issues on Chipotle. The pork supplier was a case of Chipotle sticking to their guns on responsibly sourced ingredients, but it still cost them a good amount sales. But it will pay off in the long run with their ravenous fans.

The food-borne illness outbreaks, however, are completely opposite issues. This is bad press for the king of the hill. You have to wonder if there is something broken in their processes or supplier selection. Just in passing I’ve heard from a few different people, not in the restaurant industry, that quality has gone down recently. All this points to something that isn’t working as it should.

It’s interesting because we talked to Chipotle a while back about our solution. The response we got was that the culture at Chipotle doesn’t allow for checklists and follow up. Their philosophy is that if you hire the right people and treat them well they will do the right thing. This is absolutely true. To an extent.

The issue is that everyone is different and has had different life experiences. This brings about a different view of the world for everyone. So thing that you as the business owner know are important may not seem as important to your managers. If left to their own discretion they will not focus as much on the things that you want them to as they will naturally gravitate to ares they think are most important and where they feel they can add the most value. How much you pay them will have zero influence. They might just do what they think is most important better.

This can leave your operations somewhat vulnerable. If you are paying a couple extra bucks more than the competition you will attract better talent for sure, but you still need to have defined processes and inspect what you expect.

The reality is there are real consequences in our industry for getting someone sick. Just take a look at the ex Peanut Corporation of America owner and CEO. He was recently sentenced to 28 years in prison. Granted he was blatantly negligent and knowingly shipped tainted product. But the bar has been set. Food safety has to be taken very seriously.

Having a repeatable, documented process is the only way to minimize these outbreaks. A strategy around consistent daily execution will help you run safer restaurants all around.

Click here to check out a recording of our webinar, Setting Up An In-House Self Inspection Program.

Free Management by Exception Webinar

We would like to invite you to our Running Better Restaurants in Less Time webinar, on 11/5/2015 at 3:00 pm Centralclick here to register.

This webinar is going to be packed full of best practices around managing your restaurants by exception.

Management By Exception (MBE):  is a practice where only significant deviations from set standards, ex: unsafe temperatures or operating conditions, are brought to the attention of management. The idea behind it is that management’s attention will be focused only on those areas in need of action and immediate follow-up.

We are going to cover the following topics:  

  • Management by Exception for Restaurants
  • The Power of Exception Reports & Dynamic Scoring
  • How to Implement Exception Reports in your Company
  • Building Exception Reports in the OpsAnalitica Report Builder

This webinar is going to be full of good information, and you are guaranteed to leave with some ideas that you could implement in your business immediately.

Register Here – act now as these webinar’s fill up quick.

We all know that the only way to get location managers to do what we need them to do is to hold them accountable and follow-up.

Implementing a MBE program in your chain will give you the tools to follow-up quickly and consistently.

Webinar:  Running Better Restaurants in Less Time

Time & Date:  11/5/2015 3:00 pm Central

Click to Register

Apps and Big Data: How They Are Changing The World of Multi-Location Restaurants – Part II

Here is part two. Part one was posted on Monday, click here to read part one if you haven’t read it already.

If sales drop, for seemingly no reason, Big Data can look at customer reporting sites like Yelp through an automatic data harvest to see if bad scores are driving away people.  Without Big Data, for all you know, your bad Yelp score may actually correlate with a broken air conditioner, and it should not be forcing you through the expensive process of a menu change-out.  Or, it may be that all your key performance indicators are indicating perfect operations, yet one of your locations is under performing all the rest by a meaningful degree, until… Big Data shows you that you must look elsewhere for the reason, and it’s the long-term road work project that’s driving people away. And that can be fixed with a call to the mayor and his department of public works.

Collect it with Apps

Clearly, Big Data holds the key of viewing performance metrics in an extremely creative and revealing way.  So, what has limited the use of Big Data in multi-location restaurants?

You need a method for collecting the data and feeding the Big Data analytics. And that’s where Apps and mobility come in to play.

Today, tablets and iPads are linked to the internet.  That’s no secret.

And we can put these tablets and iPads in the hands of workers for pennies a day. That’s no secret either.

The trick is to deploy clever apps that drive the workers through their inspection tasks so the enterprise is capturing the data at the right times and the right locations, no matter what the skill level of the worker. That’s what apps can do with a high degree of accuracy.

Call it workflow regimentation.

Call it process control.

Call it worker discipline.

Call it good training.

The trick is to have an app that A) prompts the timely collection of data, that B) records and stores the data (the need for CYA never dies), and most importantly, C) the app should serve as a portal to a Big Data analysis that you, at the enterprise level, can make use of to maximize the profits of your operations.  (The fact compliance with health laws is enormously easier with these types of apps is a major side benefit.)

So, when you think multi-location restaurants, you should think Big Data.  But when you think Big Data, you should ask what apps are the most appropriate for feeding the very algorithms on which your success depends.

Apps and Big Data: How They Are Changing The World of Multi-Location Restaurants – Part I

You’ve surely seen the hopeful ads about for how Big Data can help cure cancer and stop deadly attacks, but you know what Big Data is really ideal for?

Multi-unit restaurants.

That’s right.

Oh sure, we’ll need Big Data to cure diseases and save the world, but Big Data excels at process optimization and workflow analytics that are exactly what we need to make multi-location restaurants more profitable and to solve problems that, before Big Data, seemed mysterious to managers.

Specifically, Big Data is ideal for:

  1. Gathering large amounts of data from an unlimited number of sources, a.k.a. ingestion.
  2. Detecting patterns in that data; and these patterns can be extraordinarily complex, such as comparing third shift revenues across 16 locations, while tracking the additional or subtraction of menu specials, viewed by server, by gender, and correlated to the local weather.
  3. Synthesizing the data into key performance indicators, in an unlimited array of data slices, which are limited only by your imagination in dreaming up how you’d like to see and compare performance.
  4. Presenting the data in special-temporal presentations (graphs and vectors) that offer actionable intelligence and trend spotting.

Too Academic? Nope. 

Does all of that sound a little too academic and abstract?

It isn’t. Let’s take a closer look.

Here is a short list of common inspection data points for a typical multi-location restaurant:

  • Cold potentially hazardous foods maintained at 41F or below
  • Food products not held, or sold past expiration
  • Food properly covered and protected
  • Frozen foods held solidly frozen
  • Fruits and vegetables properly washed prior to processing and serving
  • Hot potentially hazardous foods maintained at 140F or above
  • Walk-in cooler product temperatures maintained at 41F or below.

As the information is collected for each of these data points, the restaurant worker needs to identify themselves, note the actual temperature, note the time of the inspection, note the location of the data, and perhaps make a comment / take a photo.

Typically, this has to happen multiple times a day.  So, the inspections are potentially undertaken by many different people, all with varying degrees of skill.

Now, take these inspection items (and this sample list from above is just a fraction of the items that need to be inspected daily) and multiple them by the number of locations you are managing.  The complexity of consolidating and analyzing this data in a pre-Big Data world (especially if it were just written down on clipboards and thrown in a binder) make the usefulness of this data practically nil.  Fact is, data was collected only as a CYA exercise in case there was ever a problem or an inspection, and you needed historical data records to review.  But now that Big Data has come into play, this data can be collected, and algorithms written, to accomplish these following Big Data tasks…tasks that were nearly impossible to accomplish just a few short years ago:

  1. Gather the data in real time, with auto-triggers and alerts that can watch trends and predict problems before they occur or that allow you to dispatch a worker with remedial actions, e.g. manager gets a text when the fridge temp rises above 41F.
  2. View the data at the individual location level, the regional level, or the enterprise level, or slice and dice the data to just look at, say, third shifts, or just at certain managers, or just at certain individual indicators, like “food sold past expiration” in relation to desperate workers trying to keep food costs inline to cover up theft, e.g. VP of Ops gets notified in real time so he can alert an area manager to conduct an inventory. That is how you drive accountability into your organization.
  3. Correlate any number of location data points to sales, or even to outside sources like Yelp or Trip Advisor. If the bathroom is filthy and the inspections are missed (as indicated by a lack of data points), it should come as no surprise the customers stop eating at that location and are posting bad reviews, e.g. the fix is easy, once you know the cause of the problem.
  4. Use big data to identify the cost control issues in your bottom 20% of restaurants that are eroding profits chain wide, develop an operational fix, and direct your area managers to focus their efforts on fixing those issues.  Then use your data collection to track the success or failure of those initiatives.  That is the accountability management that is enabled by Big Data.

Stay tuned for part II later on this week. Follow us on Linkedin so that you don’t miss part II.

Food-borne Illness Just Got Very Serious

It’s of course always a serious issue, but there hasn’t been a sentence such as the one laid down last week for the former owner of Peanut Corp of America. A 28 year prison sentence for the salmonella outbreak at his manufacturing facility in 2008/2009 that killed 9 people and got another 714 people really sick.

Now granted there was gross misconduct/neglect by the owner and upper management in this case which, I’m sure, played a large role in the sentencing, but either way the bar has been set very high. The message has been sent that the courts will not take these cases lightly.

Food manufacturers and service businesses need to do everything they can to prevent these kinds of outbreaks or ownership/management can face prison time. Add that on top of all the bad publicity especially in this day and age of social media and the internet where news spreads like wild fire in minutes. Facilities and food need to be checked and inspected regularly to make sure that there is a minimal chance of an outbreak.

Documentation is also a key factor. In this case the documentation worked against Peanut Corp of America in that they had emails going back and forth outlining lies etc. (Here’s an article from MSNews Now). Of course if it wasn’t the case that the company knowingly shipped contaminated food the sentence would have been less, but how less? Who knows? If they were able to show documentation that proved that they inspected their operations and food daily that would have helped as well.

The reality is that being in the food business you are dealing with human lives and it’s not a responsibility to be taken lightly. Just as airline pilots to a pre-flight inspection every single flight the food industry including manufacturers, restaurants, etc. need to perform similar checks every shift to insure that the food is safe. They also need to prove that these checks are being done consistently and diligently when they are supposed to be done.

Check out our blog from last week for some thawing and holding tips that you can start using immediately. Click here for an article with more details on the sentencing etc.

Click here to download our Better Practices Guide to Self Inspecting.

Thawing and Holding Tips

Thanks to the Missouri Restaurant Association weekly newsletter we’re able to share these tips for thawing and holding food.

Thawing
-Refrigeration: Thaw TCS food at 41 ̊Fahrenheit (5 ̊Celsius) or lower to limit pathogen growth. Plan ahead when thawing large items, such as turkeys. They can take several days to defrost.

-Microwave: You can safely thaw food in a microwave, but only if the food is going to be cooked immediately. Be warned: large items, such as roasts or turkeys, migh not thaw well with this method.

-Cooking: Thaw food as part of the cooking process.

-Running water: Submerge food under running, drinkable water at 70°Fahrenheit (21°Celsius) or lower.  Never let the temperature of the food go above 41°Fahrenheit (5°Celsius) for longer than four hours.

Holding
-Hold foods at their correct temperatures. TCS foods should be held at the correct internal temperatures. Cold food should be held at 41°Fahrenheit (5°Celsius) or lower, and hot food should be 135°Fahrenheit (57°Celsius) or higher.

-Check temperatures regularly. Timing is essential. Make sure you check food temperatures at least every four hours. Toss  food that’s not 41°Fahrenheit (5°Celsius) or lower, or 135°Fahrenheit (57°Celsius) or higher.

-Use food covers and sneeze guards. Keep food covered to help maintain temperatures.  Covers and sneeze guards also help protect the food from contaminants.

-Use hot-holding equipment properly. Don’t reheat food in them unless they are built to do so.

It’s important to have these processes in place and ensure that your staff understands that they are important to your operations. HACCP #7 requires documentation. A great way to accomplish this is to collect and record all this data digitally using an app.

Check out the quick video below for more info on the OpsAnalitica platform:

[embed]https://youtu.be/mMI5w9GWb_Y[/embed]

Due Care, What Does it Mean in Restaurants

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