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Improving Food Safety with Technology
Josh Giefer, Manager Global Food Safety, Domino's
Did you know handwashing was first pioneered as a hygiene practice in 1847? Ignaz Semmelweis was a Hungarian physician working in a Vienna maternity ward when he noticed the spread of childbed fever. He observed his colleagues delivering babies right after they had been working directly with cadavers (yes, cadaver labs were nearby the maternity ward). So, he set up a station of chlorinated lime solution and had everyone rinse their hands prior to examining the apprehensive, yet radiant mothers-to-be. In short order, the mortality rate from childbed fever dropped drastically, preventing countless deaths and children from losing their birth mothers.
You may think Dr. Semmelweis was hailed as a medical genius and maternity ward hero, but instead, he endured a mountain of scorn and criticism throughout the rest of his career that lasted even past his death. The medical community, unjustifiably perturbed by this new technology, did not appreciate being blamed as the cause for so many patient deaths that were previously considered to be unpreventable. They forcefully rebuked innovation for the sake of reputation.
We are a work in progress brand.’ This mantra permeates all levels of the organization, from store team members all the way up to our CEO, instilling a driving force of perpetual improvement
Fortunately, we have learned a lot since our pre-hand-hygiene days as we continue our societal journey to strive for better tools and technology. The millennial in me naturally assumed that technology was just a given for everyone participating in today’s food economy, but I have come to realize that is not always the case. If technology is not woven into the fabric of your business, you will be left behind. Simply mentioning technology usage is not a differentiator; how you approach and adopt technology is what sets you apart.
I would like to share three foundational, yet simple, principles that have remained true since the first physician soaked their hands in that glorious vessel of chlorinated lime. When steadfastly and unapologetically applied, they will continue to deliver new and better technology for a safer tomorrow:
1) embrace science-based food safety technology and improvement with an eager readiness for change,
2) add value, building a food safety culture while simplifying compliance, and
3) aggressively collect data to guide further improvements.
Eagerly Embrace Change
We have a beautiful saying at Domino’s that is deeply embedded in our culture – “We are a work in progress brand.” This mantra permeates all levels of the organization, from store team members all the way up to our CEO, instilling a driving force of perpetual improvement. It fostered our ability to adapt quickly to the current pandemic, as we redesigned 60 years of operating procedures in 6 weeks, protected and supported our franchisees while they navigated the rapidly changing demands from both consumers and public health authorities, and served as our beacon guiding tomorrow’s innovations such as Domino’s Carside Delivery™ that made the carryout experience contactless, safer, and simpler to execute. When we need to change, we welcome it with open arms, ready to embrace it.
Food Safety Culture and Compliance
It can be difficult to parse through the evolving sea of technological advances in food safety, from impressive widgets to building a better mousetrap. When attending food safety conferences, I particularly enjoy exploring the expos to see what is new in the marketplace.
But before you decide to spend your hard-earned dollars or commit your time, ask yourself these basic questions and be brutally honest: Does this really add value? Does it positively contribute to food safety culture? Can we effectively measure output and set appropriate KPIs? Does this simplify the operation and make life easier for our people to comply? You will save a lot of time and resources by being careful and deliberate with your decisions at this stage. Do your homework and make sure your technology will drive the business forward and improve food safety culture while simplifying the operation.
Data + Action = Improvement
We are data-hungry at Domino’s and zealous in our pursuit of obtaining more and better-quality information. We consume countless streams of data sets from both internal and external sources, and food safety data is treated with the same level of importance as the others. It is not simply some afterthought to the operation, but an equal part; new food safety technology should be an active contributor. Our internal data intelligence teams provide us with invaluable insights beyond what can be determined by food safety data alone, such as precise training investment opportunities, more accurate standards refinement, equipment reliability, and other predictive analytics. But that is still not enough. Data without action is overhead, so we put our data to work. We establish clear targets, set expectations across the business, collect new data on the execution, and repeat the process in a never-ending virtuous cycle of improvement.
The current pandemic shined a spotlight on food safety in a way not seen since the 1990s. And now, more than ever before, dedication to improving food safety in operation is even more imperative to your brand’s growth and success. Be bold in pursuing and developing new food safety technology and embrace the ensuing change, select technology that will add value and simplify compliance, and make a point to collect robust data so that you can act and improve. Channel your inner Dr. Semmelweis. Though we may not need chlorinated lime stations anymore, we need a commitment from all organizational levels to improving food safety with new ideas and better technology.
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