Fast Casual: Trends, Challenges
& Best Practices for Compliance Managers
It will be many years before the food industry and consumers
forget the story of Chipotle’s E. coli outbreak in 2016.
We know the external story: Chipotle was a pioneer in the fast
casual market, offering fast, fresh, and locally sourced food. The consumer
demand and response were so great that the company grew very quickly — Chipotle
moved into new markets, grew their customer base, and hired new employees by
And then a massive E. coli outbreak across 11 states nearly
toppled the company and all 2,000 locations. They spent at least $50
million in the first quarter of 2016 alone on a massive marketing
campaign to attempt to win customers back and reverse brand damage.
The internal story at Chipotle boils down to one thing: they weren’t prepared. Their operations
grew faster than their internal planning, so they didn’t have internal disaster
recovery plans, customer communication plans, or variability in their supply
If you’re building, refining, or strengthening internal food
safety and risk mitigation strategies, join Walt Murray, a food
safety and risk expert at PinPoint Services, Dean Wiltse, CEO and
RizePoint, for the live webinar: “Fast Casual:
Trends, Challenges & Best Practices for Compliance Managers,” hosted by
Food Safety Tech on March 26, 2020.
In this the live webinar, you’ll
Food Safety Culture should be a priority
strategies for mitigating fresh-prepared food safety risks
practices for c-suite to help mitigate risk and meet customer expectations
at the store level
Webinar — “Fast Casual: Trends,
Challenges & Best Practices for Compliance Managers”
When: March 26, 2020, from 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. EDT
Staying up-to-date on every new food safety rule and regulation is no easy task. The Sanitary Transportation of Food rule (STF) is the most recent example of the challenges that come with meeting ever-changing industry rules and regulations.
The STF rule aims to increase traceability and reduce the risk of contaminating food and beverages during transportation, focusing on vehicles and equipment, transportation operations, training, and records. For many companies, this puts a new strain on their supply chain and procurement teams.
One solution to traceability and transparency problems within your quality operations may come through blockchain technology. In a recent article in Food Engineering magazine, Jesse Dowdle, CTO at RizePoint, discussed the potential impact of blockchain in food safety.
“Blockchain tech in the context of food safety… with the way it links data points together, it becomes incredibly difficult to impossible for any possible ‘bad actors’ to tamper with data. But it’s not just a way to stop tampering — the benefits are huge when it comes to food safety, protecting your brand, and FSMA compliance.”
The Basics of Blockchain in Food Safety
The article further explains the foundation of blockchain technology and how it could revolutionize data and documentation organization by making results traceable, tamper-resistant, and transparent.
Blockchain technology digitally records and tracks all stages of the supply chain and keeps detailed documentation for future use. It is easy to pinpoint when and where noncompliant issues occurred to hold the right individuals accountable as you strengthen weak links in your supply chain.
With blockchain, all details are uploaded and linked together. It’s virtually impossible for one or even a few people to tamper with the data whether through human error or bad actors. The data is stored in a secure location and becomes a single source of truth.
Blockchain creates a network of digitally linked data points across the entire supply chain giving you visibility into your food safety and supply chain operations. Documentation is found quickly when requested by the FDA ensuring accountability.
The Future of Blockchain in Food Safety
It’s clear that blockchain has the potential to transform global supply chain traceability, but it’s important to remember that using blockchain in food safety is not a magic bullet.
Some challenges will still be difficult to address in the processing and distribution of certain kinds of goods. For example, flour manufacturers source several farms for wheat, but the wheat may get processed all together. This means that it may be difficult and slow to trace the actual source during an outbreak. This is a unique challenge that obviously affects exact traceability, and it seems unlikely that blockchain is the entire solution.
It could be argued that the most exciting potential for blockchain may be from helping the food safety community and many others build open networks of reputable suppliers that meet specific quality standards as well as social responsibility standards. It could be a disrupting event that could help build up industry-wide supplier transparency. An open network would help individual businesses find the qualified suppliers they need, which in turn would help the food safety industry improve as a whole.
The rise of corporate social responsibility (CSR) and ever-changing government regulations have put a new strain on supply chain managers. You need to know everything about your supply chain — from farm to fork — and you need to know if everyone along the way is producing, hiring, and acting ethically and within FSMA guidelines.
It’s a lot of information to gather and analyze for meaningful insights. However, if you can gain a higher level of supply chain visibility, you can shift toward thoughtful, proactive processes focused on building strategy rather than rushed, reactive cycles that exhaust your time and resources.
Of course, better visibility doesn’t happen overnight. But there are things you can start doing now to move your processes toward better supply chain visibility. Here are four ways to create a proactive advantage within your supply chain:
1. Use Tech
Manual processes can’t keep up with the sheer amount of data gathering and storage currently required to manage supply chains. That’s why many managers, like you, have turned to tech to help them gather and analyze hundreds of thousands of data points connected with supply chain management.
Finding a quality management software (QMS) that fits your process is like adding a multitalented employee to your team. The right software will ease your information overload burdens, freeing up the time you need for proactive, strategic planning.
Sure, a robust QMS will give you a great way to gather data through audits and assessments, but you also need tools that will help you onboard and manage suppliers. Here are some other things to look for in a comprehensive QMS:
Centralized document management
Corrective action tools (CAPA)
Using a QMS is key as you move forward with these other proactive solutions as well.
2. Be Strategic
You have a lot to do every day in a short amount of time. When it comes to food safety, shortcuts aren’t an option. However, you can save time and do more when your strategy includes managing by exception. This means you can set up processes that require attention only when noncompliance occurs, so you can focus your efforts where they’re needed most.“If you had a crystal ball (and it actually worked) you could look into the future to fix noncompliance issues before they become liabilities.”
This is where a comprehensive QMS can be your greatest asset as a database for your single source of truth. Your team will spend less time gathering information and documentation, and you’ll spend less time accessing the right information to create a searchable database. When these two processes are integrated and streamlined, you will more easily see noncompliance issues and implement corrective action more effectively.
Adding this type of laser focus to supplier management means you will spend less time organizing information and more time improving your business.
3. Respond to Trends
If you had a crystal ball (and it actually worked) you could look into the future to fix noncompliance issues before they become liabilities. The reality is that you need your data, not fortune telling, to give you meaningful insights into your supply chain. When you can gain a holistic view of your production and distribution process, you can see and fix noncompliance trends that hurt your business. This kind of visibility can help you react quickly to immediate problems, but it also gives you insights into improving your processes proactively.
4. Keep Learning
The hidden key to proactive supply chain management is a continual cycle of gather-see-act-repeat. It may be a never-ending cycle, but with each cycle comes the potential for process improvement. This puts you in a great position to help your company deliver on your brand promises.
Of course you’re learning from your own data sets, but it’s also important to keep tabs on new trends and tech in the food service industry, including the expectations of regulatory bodies and the consumers themselves. You don’t have to delve into deep research to learn more about your business; it can be as simple as subscribing to newsletters, attending conferences, and following trending topics and industry leaders on social media. When you can get out in front of industry trends, you’ll start creating a proactive advantage that will outshine your competitors.
Food safety technology has become readily available to preserve safety and transparency throughout the food supply chain. There may be a myriad of unknowns associated with food safety and its implications, but technology exists that will help you control everything you can in faster and more efficient ways.
Below you will discover some new and advancing technology that may help you evolve and improve your processes in the ever-changing world of food safety technology.
1. Pathogen-busting Tech
If scientists could only discover a magic wand that would kill all pathogens from food supply, then food safety issues might become a thing of the past. Of course, that day will never come, but there is still good news. Food safety technology has made significant advances in the past several years, including the development of interventional technologies that inactivate pathogens in food. Learn about ten of these new or improved food safety processes at FoodSafety Magazine.
2. Helpful Disrupters
“That’s the way it’s always been done, so that’s why we do it,” are often the last words of a business being left in the dust. Sure, some processes will always fundamentally stay the same, but tech can help you gather better, see earlier, and act faster. Tech such as search-driven analytics and cloud storage are now fundamental in seeing issues before they become problems and better understanding customer behavior. Learn more about the necessity of tech disrupters at Food Safety Tech.
3. Mobile Apps
Smartphones have changed all our lives forever, and now they’re doing the same thing for food safety. Going digital has an incredible amount of benefits for food safety, including a decrease of time spent on audits, a reduction of human-based mistakes or tampering, and data reporting searchability. But there is one possible benefit that might be surprising, and it all has to do with how smartphones and tablets can change human behavior. Read all about it in this Food Safety News article.
4. Blockchain Power
Blockchain has revolutionized food safety technology. It links data in such a way that makes everything easily traceable in your food supply chain. This means there is a never-before-seen transparency for the food safety industry because blockchain has the power to transform security, safety, and efficiency in food systems. Learn more about blockchain use for improved food safety at IBM. And check out how Cargill used blockchain to let customers track the origin of their Thanksgiving turkeys in 2017.
In theory, implementing food safety protocols should not be difficult. It’s as simple as keeping foods stored at the correct temperature, preventing cross contamination, and washing your hands when switching from poultry to vegetables. But what might seem like a simple and manageable task is proving otherwise. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that one in six Americans suffer from a foodborne illness, due to contamination, each year.
Fortunately, new technology solutions offer simple ways for businesses to use preventative measures to ensure food stays safe. There are five food safety technology solutions that are becoming a must-have for any business that handles food—from casinos and colleges to hospitals and hotels.
This new technology uses electron beams, more commonly known as X-rays and gamma rays, to kill bacteria without causing harm to the food product. While these powerful beams do not do any reputable damage to the food, they do kill the DNA of living organisms like bacteria. With irradiation, there is no concern for food safety in terms of radioactivity since the beams do not contact the food and food irradiation does not change the taste or nutritional value. There are no signs that food has been irradiated, so consumers won’t notice the difference.
Irradiation is FDA approved and used in 37 countries around the world—and in space!—on more than 40 different food types.
The FDA recently approved the use of UV light, via low-pressure mercury lamps, for decontamination of air in food factories and refrigerators, surface treatment, and water. With the help of UV lights, the risk of contaminated raw products or surfaces decreases dramatically. However, there is a catch. The UV light must be able to touch every part of the food product to decontaminate the product completely. This would prove difficult if you were to try to decontaminate a gallon of milk. For now, UV light is primarily used to decontaminate easily penetrable surfaces or food products.
This technology may seem simple compared to UV lights, but it can prevent thousands of dollars of food waste if an employee forgets to close the fridge or there is a power outage. These thermometers are designed to alert you if temperatures rise or fall outside the preset threshold set per food safety standards and regulations. In-fridge thermometers are a simple addition to a complete food safety program. Plus, if your business is already utilizing a mobile app for food safety inspections, temperature data can be automatically uploaded to line check results.
3D Printed Sensors
Students at UC Berkeley found a way to create a smart cap to tell you if your gallon of milk is fresh or spoiled. The caps use wireless sensors that communicate with smartphones to tell you if the milk is safe for consumption. While this technology is not fully developed, the hope is that one day consumers will be able to check the freshness of food while it’s still on the shelves at the store.
Mobile inspection apps, like the RizePoint Mobile Auditor, streamlines food safety inspections and eliminates the manual data transcription process. Mobile inspection apps are becoming the standard for food safety. RizePoint recently launched thermocouple device integration so temperature data is tamper-free and stored in one place. In addition to streamlined inspections, it’s important that the inspection app be coupled with built-in business intelligence and automated corrective action. Those critical features make it possible to address any food safety hazards before they become costly liabilities.
As the food industry brings more IOT devices into the kitchen for food safety, it will be essential for businesses to have an app that can integrate IOT data into one, easy-to-read dashboard. To learn more about how the RizePoint Brand Experience Management platform combines all quality, employee, and customer data into a single pane of glass, visit rizepoint.com/brand-experience.
4 Reasons Why Health Departments Need to Move to Cloud-Based Reporting
Consistent health inspections are like airbags, taken for granted but essential for a safe life. Not long ago, nine people died, and hundreds nationwide fell ill because a peanut butter facility was not monitored closely. It is imperative that states conduct consistent, accurate inspections to protect people. Today, many state-level governments struggle with backlogs and incomplete records because they do not have the tools to keep up with the growing workload that comes with healthy economies. State health departments need to transition away from outdated inspection processes to cloud-based solutions to improve workflows, reduce paperwork inefficiencies, and bring visibility to public safety information.
A cloud-based inspection tool eliminates the chaos of scattered, inaccessible information by organizing it into an online system that unifies and uniquely equips every level of a department with what it needs in four major ways:
1. Ensures Every Audit is Efficient and Complete
Federal audits consistently cite turnover of state inspectors and field managers as a key reason for backlog and errors in recordkeeping. Each resignation costs states years of investment and experience. However, the confusion of abundant documents and changing regulations make their job understandably exhausting. Transitioning from pen and paper to a mobile app streamlines the inspection process, eliminating the frustration that drives auditors away. Inspectors arrive at the site with the latest regulations pre-loaded and can respond to follow-up questions appropriate to that location. A mobile app eliminates the time-intensive process of uploading information and annotating each photo. Inspectors also save time by marking images, attaching files, and uploading short videos to highlight important non-compliant issues. This streamlined, automated format gives field inspectors the tools they need to report and communicate with their managers easily.
2. Spend More Time on Training and Supporting Auditors
Managers need time to oversee inspections on the ground. However, some states still use handwritten paper logs alongside a host of un-integrated systems that create redundancy. When health departments switch to cloud-based inspection systems, they eliminate paperwork duplications and labor-intensive reporting. Managers can regularly import a list of county-issued permits to ensure every new location is caught for a timely first inspection. They can schedule inspections and track when the auditors arrive, how long the audit takes, and instantly see the results as they are uploaded online. Automating the inspection calendar and process means managers have more time to spend coaching and training auditors on best practices and corrective action oversight.
3. Provide Department Leaders with the Information They Need to Make Informed Decisions
Clear, smooth communication between levels of an organization is imperative for operational excellence. The RizePoint end-to-end solution enables seamless communication across departments, locations, and management levels. The moment an inspection is complete the data is transformed into digestible, relevant information for every member of the department. Role-based reporting allows different members of the organization to view information that is applicable to them. For instance, when a director logs into the system they are greeted with an active homepage that tracks trends, assess risk, shows the latest administrative messages and more. With added visibility into statewide inspection results, large organizations are equipped to address problems before they have a chance to sicken hundreds. Plus, business intelligence reports eliminate the need to hire outside analysts to compile data and identify trends.
Health departments that use RizePoint show current, statewide, inspection reports that are readily available to the public.
4. Provide Citizens with Information to Assure Them That They Are Being Protected
Keeping citizens informed is critical to creating public confidence. Transferring inspection data to a cloud-based system makes transparency simple. Health departments that use RizePoint show current, statewide, inspection reports that are readily available to the public. People can see that location inspections are current and transparent. Food grades and non-compliant issues are visible to any consumer at any time. This level of transparency leads to more accountability for the organizations and ultimately protects consumers against unsafe conditions.
An end-to-end software solution, like RizePoint, helps field managers ensure their inspectors are efficient and precise and empowers stakeholders with the information they need to make their state thrive.