Some restaurant owners and managers may think that health code inspectors are just interested in finding code violations at the time they come to inspect a commercial kitchen. While they certainly will “write up” violations they find at the time of the inspection, what many are checking for now is what we can term “management control.” In other words, they are looking to see how the kitchen is operated over the long term.
In some cases, this long-term view can help prevent a violation. For instance, in one situation, an inspector was about to cite a restaurant manager because he found that one of the kitchen refrigeration units was not keeping stored food at a proper setting.
However, the manager was able to show the inspector a temperature reading history of the unit. This indicated the system had been operating correctly, with food kept at the right temperature setting up until that day. The reading history proved that this temperature fluctuation was apparently a new problem and a violation was not cited.
The system this restauranteur turned to for this information is Hawk Safety, a cloud-based, HACCP compliance system now offered in the U.S. by DayMark Safety Systems. The Hawk system continuously monitors refrigeration and cooking temperatures. As mentioned, all data is backed up using a cloud service, which not only stores data, but also helps managers and kitchen staff access information anywhere at any time from one or multiple locations.
Franchise operator Bennett Enterprises has had considerable success using the Hawk system. Working with DayMark, the franchise tested the Hawk platform at two of its restaurants last year. Impressed with its features and benefits, they added another six units this year for six more of their restaurants.
“One thing that became apparent when we first started using the Hawk units was that we had a few [food] products that were ‘frequent offenders,’” says Chuck Baacke, area supervisor with the franchise. “[Using the Hawk system] we were able to make adjustments in the ways those products were handled and stored to correct the problem.”
Another problem the Hawk units helped the franchise address involved staff shift reports. In the past, restaurant staff would complete daily food safety logs at the end of their shift. However, after a long and busy day, this opened the door to human error, which could have serious repercussions when it comes to code violations and food safety.
And when it comes to monitoring temperatures, kitchens today are often short staffed. This makes it hard for staffers to check temperature settings on a scheduled basis as required. “Our old written log practice was only as good as the effort put into it and the follow-up used to make sure it is happening,” says Baacke.
“With a paper checklist, it’s easy to cheat the system and enter fictitious data. That can’t happen with the Hawk System.”
All reports are computer generated automatically and available for managers or the inspector whenever they need it.
Another advantage of the Hawk System is that it talks—at least in its own way. If temperatures in a refrigeration unit, for instance, drop below pre-determined specifications, kitchen staff are notified by email or text. This helps protect food safety and is one more way restaurant owners and managers can ensure they get a clean report when the inspector comes calling.
For more information on the Hawk Safety System, contact a DayMark representative at 866-517-0490.