Like every aspect of quality control, food safety is a moving target. New attention is being placed on product traceability, record keeping and training, often made possible by the latest software.
Linking the supply chain
A year ago, Mediterranean fast casual Cava began using food traceability software. Unit employees use scanners to check bar codes on all boxes coming in at the receiving dock. The next phase will push traceability to processors and ultimately to the farm; only farmers and processors that use bar codes are considered as suppliers. “A lot of vendors are starting to change practices,” says Food and Beverage Director Sarela Herrada. “We’ve challenged our vendors to align to our expectations.”
Keeping digital logs
Moe’s Southwest Grill has also been focusing on its supply chain, especially where it comes to produce, says Scott Shotter, vice president of operations. The fast casual contracted with a single produce supplier, which is actually a group of companies that are able to trace all produce back to its source. The chain also rolled out new temperature logging software. “Instead of using a clipboard for temperature checks, we now have them digitally available, so we can remotely look across the entire system or the health inspector can check a store’s history,” Shotter explains.
Tech tools in the kitchen
To watch for errors in the kitchen—like leaving the door of the walk-in open—Cava added cameras that record video that can be accessed online. And because training is essential to making a food safety regimen work, Cava partnered with a learning management system company on video modules and testing for unit staff.
Jason’s Deli has moved both food handler training for staff and food safety training for managers online, says Tracey McClure, food safety specialist. The chain has also been using software to analyze self-audits, third-party audits and health inspections. Likewise, Moe’s system analyzes health inspection data and alerts headquarters and franchisees after each inspection. The data makes it easier for field auditors or third-party inspectors to spot patterns at specific restaurants.