Your equipment is like your technology. When it’s working, it’s good on both sides of the counter. But with equipment, the stakes are higher when malfunction occurs, leaving you to wonder if your food is safe to serve. It’s never worth the risk; if a disruption is suspected, the inventory must be dumped.
That nearly happened to one Chick-fil-A operator in the Southeast, but good luck put him at his restaurant when one of his refrigerators began to fail; he noticed the glitch before the food went bad.
Would you be that lucky?
Here, the top three things to consider when it comes to refrigeration and food spoilage:
How Cold Is It?
Always have a number. You can track refrigeration in different ways, including using sensors that are easy to attach, but trusting your instincts or going by “feel” are big mistakes. As a general rule, refrigerator temperatures should be under 40 degrees or lower. When temperatures get above that, typically for more than two hours, the natural bacteria in food can double in as little as 20 minutes and be unsafe to eat. Remember to wrap raw poultry, meat and seafood to avoid contaminating other foods with the juices. Freezer temps should be zero degrees or lower.
If your refrigeration starts to fail and you’re not on site as the Chick-fil-A operator was, how would you know? Invest in a system where the sensors are wired to send out alerts when temperatures start to rise above 40 degrees; Avery Dennison’s Freshmarx® Solutions provides several options.
Have More Than One Man on Watch
Protect yourself against technology glitches like a phone on “silent” or someone not noticing an alert. Select at least three key people to receive temperature alerts. Those three can communicate who’s going to take care of the temperature issue and, most importantly, that the message was received.
These three tips ensure operators avoid serving spoiled food, which is a serious problem in the service and retail industry. In 2016, the CDC estimated nearly 1 in 6—or 48 million people—get sick in the U.S. each year from foodborne illnesses caused by bacteria, viruses and parasites.
Essentially, refrigeration is the key to keep an incident from happening.
Aside from that, consider the money you lose when you throw away inventory when it’s been temperature-compromised. On average, an operator’s refrigerated inventory at any time is worth $10,000, with equipment failures averaging about twice a year. Unless you can afford a so-called $20,000 bath each year, it’s worth a little time and effort to set up some precautions.
Do your homework when researching temperature tracking systems. Some include basic functions while others will measure humidity in addition to temperature. Select a system that takes advantage of technology, alerting by text. Some systems work with your Wi-Fi while others are stand-alone systems and require no merging of technologies. Decide which works best for you.
Protect your brand and your investment by keeping things cool.