Standards and quality control within the hospitality industry are of critical importance, particularly within the kitchen and food safety areas of these businesses. Within this paper, the intention is to evaluate the benefits of quality tools to policy makers within the hospitality industry and discuss the effects of two of these tools in relation to a specific case example.
1) Quality Tools
Quality has become a factor of importance in both the product and the service offered to the consumer. In essence it is the art of seeking a continual improvement in the processes, products and services that are provided (Dale 2003, p.5). However, when applied to hospitality, and in particular the operations of an industrial kitchen in this environment, the term “quality” also encompasses the health and safety aspect of the operation. In such cases, it is not simply a matter of ensuring that the product and service is of the quality expected by the consumer, but that it has also eliminated the health and safety risk factor, both in respect of the consumer and other business stakeholders, which include the employees who work within the kitchen environment. In other words it has to address both the internal and external issues.
Thus it can be seen that there are a number of ways in which the use of quality control tools can assist to achieve its core aims, particularly within the hospitality industry. In addition to the safety of the product itself, these also relate to other aspects, which include the environment, cooking process and team effort of the business (Mortimore and Wallace 2000, p.29).
With the main element of an industrial hospitality kitchen being the standard and quality of the food that is served to the customers, it is important that the quality control focuses on the safety as well as the quality of the food being prepared. In an effort to reduce the potential of complaints within this area, there are several issues that need to be addressed, such as the quality and safety of the food supplied, its storage, the method of cooking and the service to the consumer.
The introduction of quality models such as the FMEA and HACCP systems are essential in ensuring that no issues arise in terms of the condition of food on its arrival from the supplier, the kitchen storage facilities or the cooking processes. The purpose of FMEA system works on the basis of combining risk and cause and effect analysis, with the intention of endeavouring to forecast potential system failures in advance as well as establishing what could cause such failures (Mortimore and Wallace 2000, p.2). Such failures are then judged by their severity; likelihood of happening and the ease of detection. With this information to hand it is then possible to design a solution to the problem, which includes a continual monitoring process. HACCP takes the process a step further by identifying points within the process where a potential hazard might occur and ensuring monitoring of these points.
For example, if one takes potential complaints about food, this can manifest itself in several ways. Food can be contaminated at the source of supply or during the storage handling processes within the hospitality kitchen facility. Additionally, problems can arise from the cooking process. The severity of these problems can range from customer complaints in respect of over-under cooked foods to potential threatening health and safety issues such as food poisoning. The Foods Standard Agency (2007) have recently published guidelines which cover the procedures needed to prevent food incidents, which provides crucial information for the hospitality policy makers. From the supplier viewpoint this includes ensuring that the raw food and its processing, packaging and all controls for issues such as contamination are vigorously controlled and that there is a facility to enable action to be taken in the event of a complaint.
Policies for food management within the Hospitality kitchen itself must include similar controls, which are subject to inspection by the local authority. These would apply to the kitchen storage facilities and their locations, which are required to ensure that food does not decompose or create additional health problems for the consumer (Knowles 2004, p.96). Similarly, the standard for training within the establishment need to be monitored to ensure appropriate hygiene standards are being adhered to by all staff (Knowles 2004, p.202). Furthermore, the hygiene and health and safety issue also applies to the employees within the business in respect of consumer’s safety.
An example of these issues in reality can be demonstrated from an inspection that was conducted by Norwich City Council in relation to an office kitchen Hospitality unit (Environmental Health Food Team 2005). In this case the office in question was refurbishing their kitchen areas. The authority found several issues that needed addressing. Among these was the fact that the food storage facilities were inadequate and posed a threat to the freshness of the products, as did the fact that the staff changing rooms were located outside of the kitchen environment, which could expose their kitchen clothing to outside bacterial problems.
Finally, the other aspects of quality that affects the hospitality kitchen are the health and safety issues that relate to employees. This has been evidenced by the concerns that can arise in relation to the potential back problems that can afflict an employee within the kitchen environment, as has been recognised by the Health and Safety Executive (CAIS 24 2006). As their report reveals, “back pain and upper limb disorders” are responsible for nearly 75% of the incidences of “occupational ill health,” which currently amount to in excess of two million lost work days a year, and a considerable number of these occur within the hospitality industry. Therefore it is important that policies regarding the positioning of equipment, maximum weight carrying levels and appropriate methods of lifting heavy products are instigated and monitored to ensure their compliance. Lack of such controls could lead to the employer being subjected to a claim under the Health and Safety legislations.
2) FMEA and HCCAP
Within this section of the paper it is intended to assess the quality control procedures within a hypothetical situation. In this situation a cook chill company has conducted a FMEA on a product that is used within the hospitality. The product is a chicken casserole. The following results were recorded. Failure modes occurrence severity detection
-Uneven garnish 1 1 5 -Incorrect stamp 1 9 9 -Packages edges stamped 2 6 6
What would need to be evaluated to provide a more accurate analysis in this case is the level of sampling provided, as the statistical information does affect the potential for detecting problems (Mortimore and Wallace 2000, p.190).
If one applies a statistical confidence level based upon the regularity of the incidence occurring over a number of sample batches, and this reveals that the results are within a 5% band, then that level would be 95%. Statistical confidence levels are used to ascertain the level of confidence that the analyst has in the result of his findings. Applying this to the above table would result in the following results
Failure modes occurrence severity detection
-Uneven garnish 0.95 0.95 4.75 -Incorrect stamp 0.95 8.55 8.55 -Packages edges stamped 1.905.705.70
However, even based upon these lower result, and using 10 as the highest level of concern, the following information can be garnered. In occurrence terms, the most prolific problem relates to the issue of stamping package edges, with the least being uneven garnish. However, when one looks at the problem of severity and potential for detection the incorrect stamp are the major causes for concern, with incorrect stamping being by far the most important issue to address.
Of itself, the problem of uneven garnish will not present a health and safety issue. Similarly, it cannot therefore be considered to be a hazard in that it will not result in a potential biological or chemical danger to the consumer (Mortimore and Wallace 2000, p.40). All that will result from this problem is a change in taste of the end product. Although the management may wish to address this from a quality viewpoint, it would not be the highest issue of the three to be addressed.
Severity and difficulty in detection in relation to the incorrect stamp and edging stamps on the other hand do present difficulties and potential dangers, with the former being of most concern. Incorrectly packaged products can lead to health and safety issues with the consumer. For example, a vegetarian would be seriously displeased if they found that the chilli casserole that they thought contained no meat actually contained chicken. Similarly, for persons with allergies, the incorrect packaging could present problems. However, the problem with the edging stamp would be at a two-thirds level of importance compared with the labelling issue.
Furthermore, one has to define the exact issue arising from the incorrect labelling as to whether it can be considered a health and safety hazard (Skelton 1997, p.6). If the problem was an incorrect date then the hazard is more significant that if it is just incorrect ingredients, as the former could lead to ill health affecting the consumer. Whilst ingredient errors may produce displeasure and complaint from the consumer, incorrect dating could lead to potential food poisoning and other health problems.
It is at this latter stage that the real effect of a HACCP analysis, an alternative method for identifying potential issues (Skelton 1997, p.67) would be beneficial. HACCP views the process from the raw product stage until it ends up on the consumers plate and seeks to identify the critical points at which the problems identified above are likely to occur. As a result of this analysis it is possible for the policy maker in the Hospitality kitchen to institute a procedure that will ensure that these points are closely monitored in an effort to eradicate the problem, with records maintained at all times (Mortimore and Wallace 2000, p.2).
From the above analysis it is apparent that, although from a individual viewpoint packaging does not present a health and safety issue (Mortimore and Wallace 2000, p.120), it is the fact that the information displayed upon it that, as has already been identified, creates the hazard. Therefore, the combination of the errors and hazards identified could produce serious problems in terms of the potential effect on the consumer’s health and, as a result, could lead to the management of the hospitality kitchen being prosecuted.
From the information and analysis that has been conducted for this paper, it is apparent that as part of the effective management of a kitchen within the hospitality industry the policy maker must ensure that, as a integral part of the management strategy, the issues of failure and hazard awareness and the methods of reducing the incidence of these risks are taken into account. Therefore, it is essential that every aspect of the process and operations of their kitchens be subjected to an FMEA and HACCP analysis. This should encompass the food supply chain; the maintenance and efficiency of equipment and the safety of their employees as well as their consumers.
These finding support the beneficial use that such quality tools provide for the hospitality policy maker.
CAIS 24 (2006). Preventing back pain and other aches and pains to kitchen and food service staff. Health and Safety Executive. London, UK.
Dale, Barrie (2003). Managing Quality. Blackwell Publishing Ltd. Oxford, UK.
Environmental Health Food Team (2005). Food Premises Inspection Report, Norwich City Council. Retrieved 16 May 2007 from http://www.norwich.gov.uk/intranet_docs/A-Z/Environmental%20Health/2005/Food_Awards/Mills_and_Reeve_Insp_151105.pdf
Foods Standards Agency (2007). Principles for preventing and responding to food incidents. Retrieved 16 May 2007 from http://www.food.gov.uk/multimedia/pdfs/principles23mar07
Knowles, Tim (2004). Food Safety in the Hospitality Industry. Butterworth-Heinmann Ltd. Oxford, UK.
Mortimore, Sara and Wallace, Carol (2000). HACCP. A Practical Approach. Aspen Publishing. Maryland, US.
Skelton, Bob (1997). Process Safety Analysis. An Introduction. Guld Publishing. Houston, US.