13 Dec 2019 From Farm to Fork: Recording of Wasted Foods
The recording of wasted food is as vital to the good management of your commercial kitchen’s food safety policies as the recording of fresh and frozen incoming ingredients is. Keeping a record of food waste is also a fast and certain way to pinpoint errors or flaws within your kitchen work-flow system. There are several steps where food waste must be accounted for:
Food must always be checked before it is signed for. Any food that is not of a sufficiently high standard (frozen food beginning to defrost, fresh foods with signs of spoilage, excessively damaged, torn or dirty packaging) can be refused and returned to the driver. This food does not need to be noted as waste as it has not been in the kitchen food system. From the moment food has been signed for, though, it must be accounted for.
Sometimes issues with food are not noted until the food is cut open: for example, lettuce can look fine on delivery, but when sliced open it can possess signs of problems – insects, bite marks, decay. This must be noted on a wastage sheet, with a record of how severe the problem was. This can be used to let suppliers know about ongoing issues with their products if necessary. If they refuse to improve their products, you can change suppliers to a more reliable company, saving money and your reputation.
There is always the risk of spills, mistakes and drops when cooking food in the high-pressure environment of a busy kitchen. Any meals that are made unfit for consumption during the cooking process must be noted on the wastage sheet. This can help to pinpoint errors in the layout of the kitchen, and help to streamline processes should one particular accident happen more often than happenstance would allow.
Left too Long
If meals are left under hot lights for too long during a busy time, it might be necessary to scrap and re-make them as the food will become dry and unpalatable. This is not good for customer experience – waiting too long for a meal, even if it is perfectly prepared and fresh from the oven when they do get it, will leave a poor taste in their mouths. Seeing a lot of meals binned because they were left for too long is a sign that table service is lacking and that perhaps a new waiter should be taken on.
Refused by a customer
Occasionally, when a meal is taken to a customer, they will object to it for reasons that can range from the excessively fussy to the potentially life-threatening. In the event of the former, make a note of the wastage and shrug off the loss. In the case of the latter, take this as a sign that your allergy precautions need an instant and thorough overhaul. With allergies, even the tiniest amount of the food can cause severe illness and even death, so any customer mentioning the word ‘allergy’ must be taken very seriously. Seeing too many (or even one) mentions on the waste sheet of ‘meal contained allergen’ should be taken as an indication of a severe problem. This should be a very rare issue, but if it does happen, ensure that everyone in the kitchen is up-to-date with their online food safety training, so they are aware of their responsibilities, and consider bringing in Health and Safety consultants to check your system is fit for purpose.
End of day
Any prepped food must be wasted once it has passed its use-by, hot-hold or cold-hold time limits. These products should be entered on the wastage sheets and used to guide the next day’s preparations to prevent future wastage.
Food inspectors will want to see a list of foods that have been wasted and be able to tie these into the occasional issues suffered by any kitchen. This means that if you have noted that a fridge failed, with the temperature rising to around 10°C for six hours, they will expect to see on the list, dated that day, all the food from the faulty fridge being destroyed to ensure customer safety. Should the two sets of records not match up, they will know that your paperwork is not authentic, which can affect your Food Hygiene Rating.
As with any internal kitchen system, recording of food waste must be comprehensive and quick – no one in a successful and busy commercial kitchen has time to spend more than a minute or two recording data, especially when this must be done as needed throughout the day. And finally, to ensure that you cut down on even more time, present an environmentally-friendly face to the world and update and maintain detailed records in as small a footprint as possible, consider switching your food waste recording system to an app like DUED in which all your facts and figures can be available with the tap of a button.
For more information or to discuss how Dued can help your business, contact us here.