Foodborne illness is the plague of the restaurant industry. The CDC says that there are 31 different pathogens that cause foodborne illness in the United States. Every year, approximately 48 million Americans get sick, 128,000 require hospitalization, and 3,000 die due to foodborne diseases.
When an outbreak of foodborne illness is linked to a restaurant, that restaurant can suffer significant reputational damage and financial loss. According to CNN, Chipotle’s stock plunged 37% and sales dropped 7% after E. coli hospitalized 22 people in 2015 and damaged the chain’s “healthy food” image. ABC News says that Chipotle has agreed to pay a $25 million fine to resolve charges related to tainted food that allegedly sickened more than 1,100 people between 2015 and 2018.
The Importance of Temperature Monitoring
To prevent foodborne illnesses, restaurant staff must practice good hygiene and safe food handling. It’s also important to monitor the temperature of food. Hot food must be kept hot enough and cold food must be kept cold enough. Otherwise, dangerous pathogens can flourish.
This means that the temperature must be monitored continuously. Restaurants also need to keep temperature logs so they can prove that they’re maintaining safe temperatures. This is essential for safety, but when restaurant kitchens get busy, it can also be a drag on resources.
Food Waste Eats Profits
Although restaurants try to maintain safe temperatures, this isn’t always possible.
After a power outage, restaurants may have to throw out thousands of dollars in food simply because they cannot guarantee that it is still safe. This is better than gambling with foodborne illnesses, but it is still far from ideal. Restaurants typically operate on thin profit margins, and food waste can push them into the red.
According to the USDA, approximately $161 billion worth of food was wasted at the consumer and retail level in a single year. Anything that can reduce this massive number is a good thing for both the restaurant industry and the environment.
The Phenium Solution
Powered by artificial intelligence and blockchain technology, Phenium is a digital safety platform for foodservice providers. It monitors refrigeration automatically to prevent foodborne illness, decrease labor requirements and reduce product loss.
With Phenium, users benefit from:
• Accurate data logging
• Live data streaming, cloud reporting, and automated alerts
• Real-time safety scores
• An automated safety process that can minimize product loss
• No need to track and log temperatures manually, saving valuable labor
This tool is even more important when you realize that you may not have insurance coverage for certain losses related to foodborne illnesses. For example, if you have to close your restaurant due to foodborne illness, you may not have coverage for the resulting business interruption.
Pizza Hut, Starbucks, Eldorado Resorts, Caesars Entertainment, and Facebook have signed up for Phenium, and it’s easy to see why they’re excited about this new technology.
Heffernan clients who sign an annual agreement and go live with Phenium before December 31, 2021, will receive significant savings.