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Monitoring technology can help reduce restaurant food waste

Running a restaurant can be stressful. Selling a relaxed and unique dine-in experience to customers for breakfast, brunch and dinner needs product reliability. Keeping track of food stock is essential for inventory management, especially for perishable goods – and refrigerator and freezer failures can have devastating consequences.

Ellab Monitoring Solutions Ltd says restaurants, cafes and bars can reduce human error and bring peace of mind by considering highly accurate automated temperature monitoring technology as an alternative to manual checking of crucial food stock.

It goes without saying that food waste is a serious problem for restaurants. In Spain a bill has been approved fining restaurants for failing to show they had reduced food waste. There are currently no plans for the UK to follow suit but business owners have to adhere to strict hygiene requirements.

Food left uneaten on customers’ plates must be disposed of. Therefore, the last thing chef needs is to add to the amount of food being thrown away by losing valuable stock before it’s even served to diners, thanks to temperature fluctuations in a storage area caused by unsuitable conditions.

The challenge is to ensure that fridges and freezers on their premises are protected against potentially dangerous variations or equipment failure. These risks can be minimised through temperature monitoring which will warn of potential issues. And what’s going on in the pantry when the lights are out, and all the staff are at home? It takes just a few hours for food stock to be ruined.

This was the dilemma facing Stacey Scarborough-Taylor, the owner of Number 41 café bar in Royston, Hertfordshire. Stacey and her staff started by regularly checking and logging fridge temperatures manually to meet environmental health criteria and for consistency of readings. This added to the café’s daily chores when there were more productive tasks needing attention.

Food safety is paramount so the answer for Stacey was to install highly accurate automated temperature monitoring technology from Ellab. Sensors can be placed in fridges and freezers that automatically pick up the slightest temperature deviations which human senses and manual thermometers might miss. Investing in the latest temperature monitoring technology can take the leg work out of manually checking crucial stock. An additional benefit is more accurate and efficient record-keeping for Restaurant HACCP requirements.

Stacey was thrilled that deploying the system solved her problem, saying:

“It’s all automated so it’s one less headache. The system is set up and does the work. Alarms will sound to alert you if and when there is a problem so you can get on with your other tasks.”

The big test for Stacey came with an unannounced visit to the café by the environmental health inspector.

She adds:

“Accurate documentation is such a key part of the process. The inspector was pleasantly surprised at the level of tech in place for temperature checks. This saved time and reduced the stress levels usually associated with these inspections.”

Manual monitoring procedures allow for human error which could lead to a crisis if a rise in temperatures in fridges and freezers go unchecked and causes spoilage. Quick intervention thanks to accurate, real-time monitoring of stock can be vital and cost saving. That’s where wireless environmental monitoring comes into its own.

There are many environmental monitoring solutions available, the most effective and robust being wireless transmitter-based solutions, rather than those using WiFi technology which is not as reliable.

Wireless solutions are flexible so you can easily move or expand the number of sensors to ensure they are always in the optimum positions, and provide continuous output for consistent and accurate readings, wherever you are.

Leading equipment suppliers like Ellab recognise that a small café selling coffee and cupcakes needs to store food under the correct conditions to prevent spoilage as much as a Michelin starred restaurant with thousands of pounds worth of top-quality stock. Owners require their own individual solution depending on the complexity of the situation in and out of working hours.

Accurate wireless real-time monitoring can be used 24/7, recording and storing a critical log of historical temperature data, sending out warnings to multiple users via PC or handheld device, and triggering an audible alarm day or night whenever any user-set thresholds are exceeded. For any restaurant or café all these benefits are a recipe for the ultimate peace of mind.

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