From June 27-29, Food+Tech Connect, in partnership with Applegate, Google, Chipotle, Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group and Studio Industries, is bringing restaurant, foodservice, tech and design rabble-rousers together to prototype open-source software and hardware solutions to industry-wide challenges at Hack//Dining NYC.
Today, we’re excited to announce B&B’s food safety compliance challenge. Check out the challenge brief below for a deep dive into the issues. Please share questions, comments and suggestions for relevant datasets in the comments.
Are you a developer, designer or data geek interested in connected devices, food safety and big data? Snag your spot today.
Interested in having your API featured at Hack//Dining NYC? Email danielle [at] foodtechconnect [dot] com to learn about API partnership opportunities.
Learn about Google, Applegate and Chipotle’s challenges here.
This challenge is focused on improving the ways in which foodservice operators find the food safety rules that apply to their situation and then have a clear picture of how to comply to those rules.
Operating a foodservice establishment is already a difficult task. While food safety should always be a priority, the significant amount of time and energy required to remain compliant can seriously hamper a business, especially smaller ones.
The food safety compliance process is a complete maze. Regardless of what kind of foodservice operator you are (e.g., food truck, deli, restaurant, retail producer), where you are, and what stage/size of business you are (mom & pop, restaurant chain, HACCP requirements, food plant, etc.) there are a myriad of compliance rules that apply to you.
It’s an extremely arduous process to just get a clear answer on what rules apply to you and what you need to do to comply with them. On top of that, every local government agency has a different approach to making this information available and a lot of unnecessary time/energy is spent digging for this.
As a result of this complexity, foodservice operators frequently might not even be aware that they’re not complying to local food safety rules. These establishments will unfortunately learn those rules only as they incur violations following inspections. This causes undue disruption to the business, fines that range anywhere from $300 to $2,0001, and possible harm to the dining public.
Your goal as a hacker is to first understand how food safety information is disseminated today and how different those approaches may be across municipalities. Then, develop a solution that simplifies the food safety compliance process and ideally improves the overall level of food safety everywhere.
Useful context to understand about food safety compliance in food service are as follows:
Core Food Safety Concepts: While specific regulations may differ between municipalities, basic food safety concepts are relatively universal in nature. All regulations dictate proper food handling, food temperature, personal hygiene, facility and equipment maintenance, and vermin control. As a reference, the NYC Food Protection Training Manual (PDF) is an excellent resource to understand these basics.
Educational Methods: Educational resources for foodservice professionals are typically available both online and in-person. These resources are offered by local governing agencies as well as from 3rd party food safety organizations who offer training and consulting services for hire. online classes, in-person classes, food safety consultation, are all methods to acquire information for compliance.
HACCP Plans: Establishments that prepare and serve certain types of elevated risk foods (e.g., cured meats, reduced oxygen packaged foods such as sous vide preparations, etc.) are required to create and maintain detailed HACCP plans (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points), a method by which food is carefully tracked from ingredient arrival into the establishment and throughout the entire preparation and serving process. The creation of proper HACCP plans can be confusing and costly, especially if consultants are enlisted to help out.
Certification & Inspection: In order to operate a foodservice establishment, managers and staff need to receive food safety certification from their local agencies. This is typically done by the individual attending online or in-person training followed by an examination. Once an establishment is up and running, some municipalities will inspect and assign letter grades based on how well food safety policies have been followed. Inspectors typically make periodic, unannounced visits, to ensure ongoing compliance.
What’s at stake is being able to increase the overall level of food safety in our restaurants, while reducing the time, effort, and money devoted to food safety learning and compliance.
Furthermore, when food safety violations occur, they are frequently due to unawareness of the rules. Unfortunately, some of the most impactful learning experiences usually come out of an establishment violating a rule and having to adjust practices afterwards. Therein lies an opportunity to make education and compliance more effective to prevent avoidable violations. Not only do food safety violations put the public’s health at risk, they also hurt the establishments through fines and lost business from closures.
The following three user groups have key roles within the food safety compliance process:
Food Service Managers & Employees: A food safety certified food professional must be present at all times during an establishments operating hours. They are the frontline to ensuring that food safety standards are consistently met.
Food Safety Educators: Education comes from a variety of sources, most often from the governing bodies who oversee certification and inspection, but also from 3rd party consultants.
Food Safety Inspectors: Inspectors work for the local agencies and have the ability to grade, certify, issue violations, and close a business down if necessary. They play a role in not only enforcing the rules but working with establishments to better understand the rules.
General Contractors, Restaurant Designers & Project Managers: To a lesser extent than the above users, the designers, general contractors and/or project managers who oversee the building of a new restaurant need to be adept in the appropriate food safety rules. There are a myriad of structural elements that are required from a food safety perspective when a foodservice establishment is being built, e.g., proper sinks, ventilation, etc. In order to avoid problems with initial food safety certification, this user must understand how to build a space that adheres to food safety rules.
At the Hackathon, Elizabeth Meltz from B&B will be available to interview. As a hacker, you are encouraged to understand the journey related to food safety education and compliance in order to make improvements. Sample questions are below to get you started, but your overall goal is to determine what’s working, what isn’t working, and what could be changed with regard to sustainable behaviors.
To hack this challenge, the following sub-provocations have been identified to get you started. These are by no means exhaustive and we encourage you, the hacker, to develop your own during the challenge: