Neil Bradley, founder and CEO of Food Safe System, knows a thing or two about food safety, having been both a chef and a restaurateur. Here he explains more about the complexity of the issue and how his app can reduce it to a walk in the park.
Food Safe System is a digital food-safety compliance platform aimed at the food service industry. All food businesses are obliged to have a documented food safety policy, which generally involves documenting all the checks, from the supplier right through to serving the customer.
For the food service, restaurants, and professional kitchens, this involves a lot of paperwork and time; documented checks on the condition and temperature of the food when it comes in, how and where it is stored, at what temperature it’s stored, how it’s cooked, checks on staff training, food hygiene, cleanliness, and more.
Food Safe System streamlines and digitizes the process and gives access to all of the above through an app.
We also have wireless temperature sensors which monitor the temperatures of freezers, refrigerators, and storage rooms 24/7. This information is also reported back, so there is a complete record of storage conditions and temperatures for auditing purposes.
All this saves time, as staff aren’t required to perform the above checks. The monitors will also send alerts if the refrigerators or freezers break down, fluctuate in temperature, or are left open, which consequently saves on food loss.
Management can log in from anywhere, and see what’s being done – or sometimes not being done. It allows them to pinpoint problems before they become issues.
Ultimately, we’ve managed to automate all the procedures that need to be carried out when it comes to food safety, which previously required paper and time. It allows for a more general overview and proves compliance, in addition to the other advantages mentioned above.
I started working in restaurant kitchens when I was 16 years old. I’ve managed and owned restaurants, and worked in Michelin-star restaurants. I was in the industry for more than 25 years, so I know the whole process like the back of my hand. I now refer to myself as a recovering chef and restaurateur!
I was actually looking for existing solutions that I could use for my own restaurants. But I found that what was out there was pretty inefficient and very expensive – so that was my primary motivation.
We launched in January 2020 and have added extra elements to the business as we’ve gone along. Automation is beneficial for restaurants anyway, but even more so since the pandemic, so the business has taken off.
HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point) is basically what food safety legislation is based on. It involves identifying the problems, then putting procedures in place to remedy them; evaluating what can go wrong and how we can stop it from going wrong.
HACCP actually originates from NASA, so it’s a pretty global system. Most food service companies will follow some kind of HACCP procedure.
We’re a global company when it comes to food safety. Although we’re based in the UK, and a lot of our clients are in the UK and Ireland, we do have customers in Austria and South America, for example, and we’re in the process of launching in the US.
As mentioned, Food Safe System frees up the time of both staff and management, as there is little need to do the paperwork that was previously required. Management and auditors can spend less time on site as they can check up on things remotely.
Food waste is also reduced dramatically. We worked out that we saved our customers over half a million pounds this year on preventing food waste, simply by being able to send alerts when temperatures changed (fridges being left open, freezers breaking down, etc…).
They’re usually quite steady, but they can change. In the UK, for example, there is new legislation concerning the packaging and labeling of food allergens. The requirements for Prepacked for Direct Sale (PPDS) now state that the packaging must clearly indicate what allergens are in the food.
Obviously, as food and food preparation changes, we start to see new procedures and regulations coming in. Luckily, Food Safe System is quick to adapt and we can incorporate the new changes into the software efficiently and without delay.
Food tech has evolved tremendously over the last few years, but it tends to stop at the kitchen door. I think the last “great” change that revolutionized the kitchen was the introduction of the food processor!
Our focus is on the kitchen, which has been, for the most part, ignored. We’re not there to replace kitchen staff, or chefs, we’re there to free them up.
We have a few customers in the US and plan to expand further over there. We’re currently running trials with the Hard Rock Hotels in South America, for example.
Food Safe System is our first product and we have other things in the pipeline for the next few months. Food waste is a massive issue – we throw out one-third of the food we produce globally every year, and the food service represents 26% of that. This is a huge concern and we intend to make a difference.