Following the Food Code and providing food information to restaurant customers is easy with a kitchen management system. When the information is in place in the system behind the recipes, the system will automatically deliver and compile the information into menus and food labels.
By: Matleena Autio
Ingredient Statement, Allergen Statement, Reference Daily Intake… Considering all the information required in the Food Code may feel a bit hard especially if you are a new operator in the food business. However, it is compulsory to offer specific information of food products to your customers. The purpose of the Food Code is to ensure that food offered to customers at retail and food services is safe, and that the customer has adequate information about the food (s)he is consuming.
Most packaged food sold in the US must contain Ingredient Statement and Allergen Statement, and also Nutrition Facts sheet with Reference Daily Intake (RDI) values. The information about the allergens is of course important for the customer with allergies. Nutrition Fact sheet, in turn, gives the customer the opportunity to compare products and make healthier food choices easily.
Food package must also contain the name and address of the manufacturer, packer, or distributor of the food product. Net quantity of content is compulsory information as well, and some states also require dating the products with best before, expiration or sell-by -information.
Handling statements must be presented on products that require any special handling before eating, like products that are distributed frozen and thawed, and safe handling instructions for raw or partially cooked meat. The Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) law requires specific imported meat products, perishable agricultural commodities, nuts, and ginseng, to contain the name of the country of origin.
Product information out distinctly
Providing customers product information that the Food Code requires is not difficult. You can find comprehensive information about the subject on the Internet, and JAMIX Kitchen Intelligence System helps you in bringing the required information reliably and distinctly through the production all the way to the customers. You can provide product information to your customers on the label, where the system automatically compiles the information. Or you can share your menu online with the JAMIX MENU application, including the product information, for example on the web page of your company.
The Food Code is not meant to be a final test for food service operators. Just the opposite. The Food Code helps operators in food business to perceive what information of the product is the most important for the customer, and also to bring that information out distinctly. When the customer has all the adequate information about the product (s)he can easily make choices according her/his own needs and preferences. It is also an opportunity for a food service operator to stand out by providing distinct product information to its customers.
The number of special diets has increased in the last decades. Preparing diet meals is often considered as a challenging and time consuming job. With good planning you can, however, manage the amount of work. A kitchen system will help the professional kitchen in managing special diets and allergens.
By Matleena Autio
The number of special diets followed by different reasons has increased in the last decades. Reasons for following special diets can be numerous. Health related reasons are, for example, bowel diseases and diabetes, as well as different types of allergies and hypersensitivities. Food restrictions are related to many religions, as well, for example fasting or cutting out certain foods. In addition, different types of vegetarian diets have grown in popularity. This can be seen in the supermarkets, as well, where the assortment for plant based food items has increased. Many consumers have added the consumption of plant based foods in their diet even if they continue consuming meat, as well.
Eating is one of the basic needs of humans, and there are numerous psychological and physical functions related to it. Eating for comfort or strong disliking towards certain foods are familiar phenomenon to most of us. So you should always respect the diet your customer has announced, even if your own opinion was different, and you should always take special diets seriously. For example, diets based on religion or ethical reasons are very personal things and they can have a big significance on how a person sees herself, as well as on her feeling of control in life.
Allergies can be life threatening and in celiac disease the tiniest amount of cereal will cause serious damage in the intestines. The amount of people seeking care because of allergies has increased significantly during the past years. One reason for the allergies to become more common might be better recognition of the symptoms. Unnecessary diets where you avoid foods based on health issues are not recommendable.
Managing allergens safely and appropriately
Diets where you avoid foods put a big strain on food service operations in schools, for example. Announced allergy is always taken seriously in the kitchen and even small amounts of ingredients including the allergenic are usually taken out of the person’s diet altogether. For this reason it is very important that allergies and mild hypersensitivities are separated from each other already when announcing the diet. For example, a person who is allergic to tomato needs a diet where even the tiniest amounts of tomato – which could be one ingredient in a sauce, for example – have been removed. A person who is hypersensitive to tomato might get symptoms from tomato only when it is uncooked or if she eats bigger amounts of tomato. You don’t have to take tomato completely out of the diet of this kind of person, it is sufficient that she has the possibility to choose some other item instead of fresh tomato.
The line between allergy and hypersensitivity is not always that clear, and for example cross allergic symptoms related to pollen allergies might vary depending on the season. So, in unclear cases it is important to check the customer’s situation instead of guessing if some ingredient is suitable for her diet or not.
The law requires that food labels identify the food source names of all major food allergens used to make the food (FDA). In JAMIX Kitchen Intelligence System you can add information on ingredients, as well as on allergens included in them, into the nutritive value. The user can choose which allergens are included in the nutritive data and the information runs accurately through the system.
You can also add information on diets into recipes, which indicates their suitability for customers with those diets. The information runs through the system from ingredients and recipes to menus that can be published for the customers easily from the system. Keeping the allergen information up-to-date in the system and checking the information on a regular basis is, however, extremely important.
Customer comes first – also when it comes to special diets
You need to take special diets carefully into account also in the possible transportation or presentation and serving of food. Information related to health and conviction is private and when presenting food you should make sure that this information is visible only to those, who need it.
Preparing diet meals is often considered as a challenging and time consuming job. With good planning you can, however, manage the amount of work and often the nutritive quality of the items will be improved at the same time.
When planning and preparing diet meals you do not only take out the ingredients to be avoided from the diet, but you need to replace them with some other item suitable for the customer. A beef soup will not be turned into a vegetable soup if you take out the beef consomme powder and the beef, but you should replace the beef with a plant based protein and change the flavor ingredient into a vegetable based one. Sometimes it is more appropriate to change the entire course than try to prepare a matching main course option for the customers with special diets.
When talking about special diets, it is good to keep in mind that the customer always has the right to decide what she eats. When the recipes for different diets are ready in the system, even the more exceptional wishes can be fulfilled with small effort and in a safe way.
Taking care of your health and the environment doesn’t necessarily require huge efforts. Kitchen management system makes it easy for commercial kitchens to prepare healthy and sustainable meals for their customers.
By Matleena Autio, System Specialist
Food is not all about taste. A diet following the dietary recommendations promotes health and reduces the risk of several non-communicable diseases. The most common issues with diets are related to the use of vegetables and red meat, as well as the amount of salt. When your everyday diet is based on healthy meals, you don’t need to worry about occasional treats.
Kitchen management system is an important tool in the professional kitchen. In multi-site operations the system makes it easy to use the same recipes and ingredients in all sites. The use of ingredients that are in accordance with contracts is extremely important both with regards costs and nutritional quality.
In addition to nutritive values, you can easily check the allergen information from the system, when the same recipes are used in all sites. Semifinished products or spice mixes might slightly differ with regards ingredients depending on the manufacturer. When you use exactly the same items that are in the kitchen system, including the detailed ingredients lists, you can be sure that the ingredients list communicated to your customers will match the prepared meal. The communication of allergens is especially important, and when you have the most common allergens linked to your ingredients and recipes accordingly in the system, it is easy to take these into consideration both in production and on the food labels.
Healthy diet promotes well-being to the environment
The diet that is healthy for people is also the better choice with regards our environment. Environment-friendly foods include wholegrain cereals, beans, berries and fruit, and local fish – these are the same foods that are included in a healthy diet.
The possibility to compare the carbon footprint of different ingredients when creating recipes and planning menus makes it easy to take sustainability into consideration in the professional kitchen. You can even use ingredients with a bigger carbon footprint without growing the environmental effect of the meal, when you include other ingredients with a lower carbon footprint in it. In the kitchen system it is easy to compare and try different ingredients and see how different choices effect on the carbon footprint of the meal.
More and more customers are interested in the environmental effect of their meal choices. You can easily communicate the carbon footprint to your customers through JAMIX MENU application, for example. This is an easy way of communicating your business’s sustainability to your customers.
Small steps will take you far without you even noticing it
Taking care of your health and the environment doesn’t necessarily require huge efforts. Small everyday things and paying attention to the right things in your everyday routines often play a bigger role compared to some show off happening once a year. Small changes are usually also easier to accept and they are more likely to become a part of your everyday routine compared to big changes that require a lot of attention.
You can effect the nutritive content and the carbon footprint of your meal for example by replacing some of the meat with a plant based protein or by switching your cooking cream into a lighter version. Even if the change is not that big, when you practice it for one year, it can have a significant effect on the well-being of yourself and the environment.
The obvious customer information is menu prices, but many customers want nutrition and allergen information that is easily available. This is one of the topics in the following newsletter by Certified Master Chef Ron DeSantis.
During my first hand writing a newsletter a couple of years ago, I called the newsletter, “Come On Already!” This is something you’d hear me say for a variety of occasions – something amazing, something ridiculous, something unbelievable (to me anyway), and….you get the idea. I hadn’t realized I used this phrase until a trip to Spain some years ago and my host wondered why I said that, well because, it doesn’t make sense when translated. But, everyone gets the gist.
Here’s this month’s Come On Already!…give me feedback.
Are Small Plates Too Small?
Small plates are a fun way to eat. A group of friends get together and order a variety of small plates to share and experience flavor & textures. However, at some point the small plates are just too small. How do 4 people share 3 shrimp? The answer is, you have to order a second small plate of shrimp. Now I have 2 more shrimp, but that’s not too bad because I can cut them in half and each gets ½ shrimp. But, wait, who gets the tail and who gets the fat juicy end? But, you say, why not split the last 2 shrimp lengthwise?….why not indeed. When did dining become so complicated????
Master Chef Insights
Allergen & Nutrition Information
Providing customers with information allows them to make decisions when eating in our establishments. The obvious customer information is menu prices, but many customers want nutrition and allergen information that is easily available. My recent years in College & University foodservice underscored the importance of nutrition and allergen information. The customer population with food allergies must know what is in food.
Kitchen management systems provide managers with the tools to get critical allergen information to customers. Menu cards can be printed or digitally displayed at the point of access to provide diners with allergen information. This information is displayed as a list of ingredient and, in many cases, as icons. The icons are a great visual graphic that allows the diner to quickly scan the known allergens that might be in the food.
Nutritional information is the other piece of information diners use to make meal choices. Kitchen management systems can upload this information to mobile device apps so that the customer can see the information at any time.
I finally realized that I’m a geek…..a food geek. My recent collaboration with CIA Consulting and lentils.org made me realize I’m a geek, otherwise why get excited over lentils!? And I was/am excited over lentils. Together with certified master chef Tony Seta, we lead a group of top chefs through a series of talks, tastes, and team hacks to come up with delicious lentil-forward menu items.
The project yielded some interesting outcomes. The biggest surprise for me was that lentils blend well with ground beef. I went in thinking the lentil flavor would be dominant but in a 66:33 ratio the beef was the star and the lentil helped to make the burgers delicious. Green lentils (which look brown) also blended well with turkey, and pork, and red lentils were delicious with salmon.
Our process was to cook the green lentils, then puree them and use the puree to mix with ground meat. Red lentils were only soaked, then pureed and mixed with salmon.
The participants were set up into teams and given a market basket of ingredients to use. Teams created signature burgers, inspirational bowls, and craveable street food. For more information visit www.lentils.org
Cooking with light is at the core of the Brava cooking system. The light comes from powerful light bulbs inside the Brava. The power of the light can professionally caramelize meats and vegetables in a short time. The result is seared food cooked to a perfect predetermined doneness. And the food is delicious.
I was able to experience the Brava in action recently in Manhattan. The CEO, CTO, and Chef were in NY to demonstrate the technology. I got there as a 4 portion beef strip was being served with roasted potatoes and seared mushrooms. Here’s the coolest part – all 3 ingredients were cooked AT THE SAME TIME, and each was perfectly done. As if that wasn’t enough, the chef then cooked 2 portions of salmon filet with roasted tomatoes and asparagus. The salmon skin was cracker-crisp and the center of the fish was medium (as requested).
The process includes 3 cooking zones inside the Brava and technology that knows how much light intensity and time is needed for each ingredient. And the Brava has a video feed of the food cooking. I’m going to keep an eye on Brava. For more information www.brava.com
Chef Owner of East Wind Snack Shop NYC & Tansuo in Nashville.
Chris Cheung – cool guy, excellent chef, and mafioso! He’s all that and more. I first saw Chris on Anthony Bourdain’s show No Reservations in a Chinese restaurant in NYC’s China Town. THAT’S how cool Chris is. I got to spend time with Chris while taping cooking videos for Hormel Foods. Then I interviewed Chris for a Cooking Journey podcast also for Hormel Foods. Talking with Chris is like talking with a good friend. The conversation flows, the talk of food is always in the center and you find out quickly that Chris knows food.
Chris has SERIOUS culinary chops – Jean George Vongerichten, Morimoto, Wylie Dufresne – are notable chefs he as cooked with. He has traveled China to learn about Chinese cuisine, and he worked alongside a Master Chinese dim sum chef to fully understand the craft of creating dim sum.
Yale 3rd Cook, Chef Humberto Espinal took top honors at the 2018 NACUFS National Culinary Championship. This is especially meaningful to me for several reasons. Foremost is because Humberto is one of those joyful success stories. 6 years ago while I was Director of Culinary Excellence at Yale Hospitality, I had to inform Humberto that I couldn’t hire him without a high school diploma or GED. It was one of the most difficult messages I had to deliver. It was difficult because Humberto was, and is, a craftsman and I knew he would give everything to our craft. I told him to call me when he has his diploma.
2 ½ years after that meeting, Humberto called me to say he got his GED! His timing was right because we had a cook’s position open and Humberto was now on the Yale culinary team. Over the next couple of years, Humberto continued to hone his craft and this year he wanted to compete to represent Yale Hospitality at NACUFS.
The rest, they say, is history! Congratulations Humberto to your Championship!
CulinaryNXT is a food service advisory practice drawing on Ron DeSantis’ 30 years of experience in all facets of the food industry. Ron is one of only 68 Certified Master Chefs worldwide and has advised organizations of all sizes and types. His strengths include culinary innovation, menu and recipe development, culinary assessment, bottom-line results, and communication skills that allow him to implement solutions effectively.
CulinaryNXT’s base is in New Haven, but its reach is truly global. CulinaryNXT’s relationships extend to numerous countries around the world in a client and alliance network that has been built over many years. These relationships provide both global support and local knowledge.
JAMIX Kitchen Intelligence System is a comprehensive software for restaurants and foodservice operations where nutrition information is seamlessly linked to your recipes and further to menus.