Pub kitchens tend to use paper-based systems to record essential compliance tasks, involving the risk of human error. But the so-called ‘internet of things’ is driving new, automated ways to manage food, hygiene and facilities tasks, such as food temperature monitoring and cleaning checks.
In July, Checkit launched its new, cloud-based automated monitoring subscription service to replace manual checks.
“Online software can give real-time data on how staff are performing against scheduled tasks and checks – providing complete control, and ensuring nothing is forgotten,” says Dr Martin Nash from Checkit.
With plenty of food, water and hiding places, pubs will attract rodents, cockroaches, flies, wasps and ants.
But under the new sentencing guidelines, a pest infestation can lead to a hefty fine or even jail, says David Cross, head of the Technical Academy at Rentokil. It could also cost a pub thousands of pounds in lost revenue.
“Given the risks, it pays to have a proactive pest control strategy,” says Cross. “This entails awareness of the pests you’re likely to encounter; familiarity with the early warning signs; and good hygiene practice to remove their hiding places and food sources.”
He also points to the need for regular deep cleans, sealed food containers, frequent rubbish collection and neat, tidy premises – as well as routine visits and treatments from a pest control professional.
The quality of washrooms can directly impact on the profitability of a pub. Research by Initial Washroom Hygiene suggests that 80% of people said a venue needs to be clean for them to consider visiting.
It’s not just sales a pub has to worry about, warns Dr Peter Barratt, technical manager at Initial. “A serious hygiene problem can have disastrous effects, including lost productivity, staff sickness, fines and even forced closures.”
Then there’s the reputational damage. According to research from hygiene product manufacturer Tork, 70% of people have told a friend not to visit a dining venue due to poor cleanliness and hygiene.
“It’s vital to customers that they’re eating and drinking in a clean, hygienic environment,” says Jamie Wright from Tork’s brand owner, SCA. “They should have absolutely no doubt that a publican is committed to exemplary hygiene practices.”
Your local Environmental Health Office can help your pub kitchen create an all-important HACCP plan and the humble thermometer can play a big part in making sure you stick to it.
Tim Strutt, from electronic thermometer provider ETI, says: “It’s your responsibility to ensure the food you serve is safe to consume. One way to do this is to use a calibrated, accurate thermometer that’s fit for purpose.”
His advice for choosing a thermometer is to consider its accuracy and speed of response.
Among a landlord’s long list of legal requirements is the duty to assess the risk of exposure to Legionella – the bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ disease.
Purpose-built water systems, evaporative condensers and water systems can harbour Legionella. For pubs, this means ensuring water systems are in the right condition to comply with The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and COSHH 2002 regulation.
“Risk assessments are a legal obligation,” advises Neal Spencer from Central Chemical Services, which carries out Legionella risk assessments for 4,000 UK pubs.
“Assessments identify whether controls are required to minimise and monitor risks. And they provide advice and support to ensure building owners and operators are working safely and within regulations.”
The Brexit effect
Currently, more than 95% of food law comes from the EU, according to John Golton-Davis, business development manager at Food Solutions, which is a not-for-profit organisation that helps small businesses to comply with food regulations.
“Brexit will change everything,” he says.
“At the moment, there are more questions than answers.”
But if pubs think it’s difficult to comply with food laws now, things could get worse when the UK government takes over, he warns. Food Solutions represents small British food businesses in Europe, but will have no influence over UK legislators.
“All pubs and small food businesses should join a trade association,” urges Golton-Davis. “This will give them the power to help prevent ridiculous food legislation. Those that don’t might well end up getting the legislation they deserve.”
Top Products and Services
■ The Tork SmartFresh automatic toilet system provides real-time data to track the number of people using a washroom. This allows cleaning schedules to be based on actual use. The system also has an automatic scent and cleaning function.
■ Checkit’s automated monitoring and work management software is centred on the ‘Memo’ – a handheld device that displays scheduled tasks and prompts staff to complete them. The system automatically records and time-stamps all actions taken by staff.
■ ETI’s Professional Catering Thermometer Kit has everything a pub kitchen needs for temperature control: a Therma 20 thermometer, penetration and air wire probe, traceable certificate of calibration and log book.
■ As well as site assessments and commercial treatments, Rentokil offers customers a Pest Awareness e-training platform. Its myLearning portal offers easy access to relevant, topical information to help businesses minimise pest infestation risks.