Working in a kitchen, commissary or backroom where food is prepared poses some inherent risks, from knife injuries and wet floor hazards to the potential for microbial contamination or cross-contamination. While several guidelines and laws are already on the books, some industry organizations are taking other steps to shore up their foodservice operations within grocery settings, beyond standard operating procedures and good manufacturing practices.
In February, two large grocers—Ahold Delhaize and Kroger Fry’s Food Stores—announced they are teaming up with Restaurant Technologies, based in Mendota Heights, Minn., to improve oil management in their deli operations.
The moves comes at a time when demand for prepared meals at foodservice continues to grow, and those stores are using oil for more products. “Now more than ever, having a deli operation that functions as efficiently as any commercial restaurant kitchen is critical," says Jim English, director of national accounts at Restaurant Technologies.
According to English, there is a certain vulnerability in many grocery delis. For example, such areas can be located far from the store’s back dock, resulting in employees transporting hot, used cooking oil through the store and posing risks of spillage, burns and falls. “Automating your deli's oil management can help keep employees safe, provide efficiencies in the kitchen and help ensure you're serving a high-quality fried food product,” he says.
Restaurant Technologies’ total oil management system automates the life cycle of fryer oil. That’s a change from the manual changing and disposal of cooking oil in a rendering tank outside the store.
Ahold Delhaize tested the system in 16 stores before committing to install it in 347 stores this year. Fry’s is adding the system in 117 of its stores in Arizona.
Meanwhile, there are other efforts to ramp up safety in foodservice operations within grocery stores, including shopper safety. Applicable to supermarkets that sell alcoholic beverages in in-store cafes, grocerants or wine bars, the National Restaurant Association recently launched a new ServSafe alcohol online course and exam. The training program provides responsible alcohol service training, with concepts that can mitigate the risks associated with serving alcohol.