FOG BMP… Translates to Sustainabilit-EE

Approaching the start of the second half of my Institutional Foodservice Production and Management rotation, I’m starting to realize how everything I’ve learned so far is coming full circle. Yesterday I was educated, in more detail, about the benefits and logistics of a FOG BMP program in restaurant foodservice managements related to sustainability. The Chief Operating Officer from FOG BMP Rite-Way Compliance Group, LLC was our guest speaker yesterday and educated us on the importance of this program, how it works, how it affects our restaurant businesses, and community as a whole.

FOGis an acronym that stands for Fats, Oils, and Grease which is commonly found in Food Service Establishments (FSE’s).

BMPstands for Best Management Plan. This program is recommended by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) and mandated by various cities across the country. It entails a written plan of daily practices for food service employees to follow to solve the problems of fats, oils, and grease that enters the public sanitary sewers.

There are 2 types of grease: yellow grease/rendered grease and brown grease/trap grease.

Yellow Grease

        “Fryer” grease

        Highly Profitable

        High yield profitability from rendering companies

Brown Grease

        Grease from food preparation

        Requires service from “pumping” companies

        Lower yield profitability from rendering companies

So, how does FOG negatively impact your FSE?

        Severe fire risk that can cause loss of property and lives

        FOG entering the drains in your facility causes blockages in the plumbing

        Unnecessary drain cleaning costs

        Increased maintenance cleaning costs of grease interceptors

        Odor issues that drive customers away

        Negative public image

        Brand damage

How does FOG negatively impact the public sewer system?

        FOG is the #1 reason for sewer system overflows

        FOG that is allowed to exit the grease interceptor of your FSE (from poor maintenance procedures/neglect) enters directly into the public sewer system

        $29 billion a year is spent on cleaning up the public sewer systems in the U.S.

Fats, oils, and grease usually enter a food service establishment plumbing system through:

        Pre-rinse sink

        Washing wares in the 3-compartment sink

        Floor cleaning

        Equipment sanitation

There are currently 2 different types of devices that all restaurants have that is designed to separate the fats, oils, grease and solids from wastewater. A grease trap is usually located in smaller food service establishments and positioned inside the kitchen near the 3-compartment sink.  A grease interceptor is located in much larger food service operations and is an exterior in-ground tank.

One concept that really caught my attention of the presentation was composting. Our guest speaker mentioned that other restaurant corporations are utilizing this form of sustainability as well. The restaurants use their food waste, which is food materials that are discarded or unable to use, and saved to put in a food compost container. Then, these composts are donated to local farmers to use for fertilizers on their produce. Then, once the produce is grown, the restaurant buys those products from the local farmers. It really promotes local food economy, utilizing local farmers, and minimizing food miles traveled. I think this is a great and innovative model that every restaurant should adopt!

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Food Costs: Actual vs. Ideal

One of the factors that play a substantial role in the success of a foodservice operation is food costs. Food cost is what a menu item costs to prepare. The cost of a chicken entrée with meat, sauce, vegetables and starch is your food cost. Most restaurants run between a 30-40% food cost, this does not include the cost of overhead that needs to get added in before you start making a profit. A major influence on a restaurant’s food costs are the portions that the kitchen staff are creating each recipe and dish with.

One of reasons that franchise chain restaurants are so successful is because they have menu portions under control and regulated. It doesn’t matter if you go to Applebee’s in West Virginia or California, you will probably be served the same food in the same portion sizes. Customers like this consistency. By having a restaurant maintaining predictability, regardless of the location, chain restaurants guarantee strong profit margins.

Poor portion control is one of the leading causes of food cost variances. Consider that your ideal food cost is based on the premise of exact portioning for each menu item, including the portioning of each ingredient within a menu item. If your prep and line cooks have gotten in the habit of “eyeballing” measurements rather than sticking to the exact recipes, chances are your food cost variance could be as much as 5% or more. Proven portion control strategies include the use of portioning scoops, scales and measuring spoons and cups. Pre-portioning can be effective in controlling costs by using portion baggies and a scale to pre-weigh product before stocking the cook line.

Ideal food cost is the standard by which you can compare your actual food cost. If your actual food cost varies to your ideal food cost, then you set about to determine why and where the problem(s) lie. After completing your inventory, you should do a food cost analysis. You should do this at least once a week. The actual food cost is the cost of the food consumed by your customers.  When your actual food cost is higher than your ideal food cost, then you have not optimized your bottom-line profits. You have thrown money out with the window- I guess you could say. However, you won’t know this unless you know what your ideal food cost is.

So, a few things that a restaurant can do to maintain this consistency and reliability, in regards to portion control and essentially saving in food costs are:

          Providing pictures of each plated item. This illustrates the correct portion sizes and proper plating.

          Provide pictures of what each raw material/ingredient should look like after they are prepped. So for example, have pictures of actual sizes of what diced chicken looks like compared to the restaurant’s sliced chicken. This will give employees a visual of how to prep and what to look out for when assembling menu items.

          Pre-portion condiments, sides, and sauces. Every restaurant that I have ever worked in has done this. This is why when you go out to eat a restaurant and you order a salad, the dressing usually comes in small ramekins that have plastic lids. This way you can serve the dressing in-house or for to-go.

          Always have an adequate amount of correct sized storage containers, ladles, and scoops for each menu item as well as a variety of measuring cups, spoons, and scales.

These four prevention measures not only assist in less waste, but they also speed up food preparation and service time – especially at peak times like the lunch-rush or dinner-rush. It also makes certain that your customer gets exactly what they order and what they want, every single time they come to dine at your foodservice establishment.

So, with all of this information being said… How does this apply to my ISPP rotations right now?  Well, at my Institutional Food Service, Production and Management rotation, the entire class was assigned a task. This was to choose a raw material (ingredient) and analyze the actual vs. ideal food costs of that item. And by doing this, see what the restaurant needs to do to improve the usage of this product- whether or not if it was being overused or underused. So, the raw material I chose was chicken breast. This is the most profitable, and popular, raw material that this particular restaurant location utilizes throughout the summer. So, by going through the company’s database with the assistance from management, each student/dietetic intern were able to see what problems existed. And by doing this, new techniques or methods can be adopted to improve the use of these raw materials within the foodservice operation. Fundamentally- creating an even happier customer base.

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What is Ideal Food Cost?

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Food Insecurity and Sustainability

Last week, international agricultural leaders met in Washington, DC to discuss plans to dispense and develop agriculture data collected in various countries to report global food security and nutrition.

Nutrition security is defined as secure access to an appropriately nutritious diet (ie, protein, carbohydrate, fat, vitamins, minerals, and water) coupled with a sanitary environment and adequate health services and care, in order to ensure a healthy and active life for all household members.  Nutrition security requires that all people have access to a variety of nutritious foods and potable drinking water; knowledge, resources, and skills for healthy living; prevention, treatment, and care for diseases affecting nutrition status; and safety-net systems during crisis situations, such as natural disasters or deleterious social and political systems.

Food security is a part of nutrition security and exists when all people, at all times, have physical, social, and economic access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life. The four pillars of food security are availability, access, utilization, and stability.  Although nutrition security requires food security, the two terms are sometimes merged into the term food and nutrition security to emphasize both food and health requirements.

Two important limitations with current food security measurements are that the term food is generally equated to food energy only, usually from just a few staple foods, failing to measure the wide variety of foods that are needed to provide all the nutrients for an active healthy life; and terms are often used incorrectly and/or interchangeably for hunger (a feeling/scarcity of food), undernourished (lacking nutrients), malnourished (poorly nourished), and food insecurity (lack of foods needed for a healthy life).

The effect of income on nutrition security depends on the local cost of living and social and political systems providing access to land, food, water, housing, health care, and education. Dramatic increases in international food prices have the greatest impact on low-income, food-deficit countries. The recent financial, energy, and food crises have negatively affected poor consumers through soaring food prices; reduced household income; and reduced health and social assistance. Lack of dietary diversification aggravates the problem. The cause of the food price crisis is not necessarily an underlying shortage in global supply, but a combination of high energy prices, pockets of agricultural failure, the financial crisis, and national policy errors resulting in a general price panic. In some countries, there are also increasing demands on the food supply for feeding livestock and making biofuels. Nations are at a higher risk for volatile food prices if their nutrition security is dependent on global financial systems and oil, such as for producing agrochemicals, operating machinery for harvesting, processing, and transportation.

Globally, approximately 30% of children under 5 years old are stunted and 18% are underweight. As growth slows down, brain development also lags behind and, as a result, stunted children are more likely to learn poorly. The global prevalence of underweight and stunting in children under age 5 years is decreasing, but prevalence is still unacceptably high in some regions. Approximately 15% of children are born underweight; however, almost 60% of newborns in developing countries are not weighed at birth.  Access to caloric intake in developing nations has increased during the past 40 years. In 1969-1971, 33% of the population had inadequate access as compared with the current estimation of 16% in 2010.

Micronutrient deficiencies affect more people (36%) than caloric deficiencies (12%), emphasizing the importance of addressing the quality of food in agricultural systems. Micronutrient deficiencies result in fatigue, lethargy, reduced learning ability, brain damage, reduced immunity, miscarriages and other pregnancy complications, blindness, and goiter, and raise the risk for mortality, especially from diseases such as diarrhea, pneumonia, malaria, and measles.

The following five micronutrient deficiencies are of particular concern: iron deficiency, folate deficiency, vitamin A deficiency, zinc deficiency, and iodine deficiency disorder. It is estimated that >1 million children’s deaths worldwide could be prevented with adequate vitamin A and zinc and an additional 24,500 deaths prevented with adequate iron and iodine. Adequate micronutrient status improves health and intellectual abilities and the evidence for addressing deficiencies is compelling, cost effective, and achievable.

Sustainability creates and maintains conditions under which humans and nature can exist in productive harmony and fulfills the social, economic, and other requirements of present and future generations. During the last 50 years, the physical and functional availability of natural resources has shrunk faster than at any other time in history due to increased demand and/or degradation of biodiversity, soil, forests, water, and air. This has been compounded by a range of factors, including human population growth, changes in lifestyles, and diets that use more land, water, and energy resources. It is imperative to encourage environmentally responsible practices that conserve natural resources, minimize# the quantity of waste generated, and support ecological sustainability of the food system.6 Individuals can make the biggest single contribution to the environment by shifting to a more environmentally friendly lifestyle.

Agriculture contributes to the livelihood of 40% of the world’s population with 90% of farmers owning <5 acres. Agriculture is multifunctional because it produces or contributes to food, medicines, nonfood items, ecological services, livelihoods, social stability, culture, and tradition. The combination of community-based innovations, local knowledge, and science-based approaches maximize output and sustainability of food and water resources.

Local food systems, local consumption, and domestic outlets for farmers’ products can alleviate the risks inherent in international trade. Investment in local infrastructure, marketing systems, extension and communication services, education, as well as research and development, can increase food supply and improve the functioning of local agricultural markets, resulting in less volatile prices

Micronutrient deficiency prevention and control strategies include:

        Increased food diversity with improved dietary quality, bioavailability, and quantity;

        Disease control;

        Improved knowledge and education on prevention and control for policy makers and the general public;

        Supplementation to high-risk groups; and

        Where deficiencies are high, fortification technologies, such as biofortification, open market fortification of processed food, and targeted fortification

Schools that integrate health and nutrition into their classrooms and communities can become centers of excellence and hubs of knowledge and practice beyond the school-aged child. School meal programs provide complete or supplemental meals to promote nutrition, school participation, and learning potential. Gardens in schools can spread to communities and increase awareness of the importance of good nutrition and dietary diversity. Integrating health and nutrition education into lessons, meals, and gardening activities promotes healthy habits such as dietary diversity, food and water safety, food processing, nutrient preservation, sanitation, and hygiene.

Members of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (registered dietitians; dietetic technicians, registered; and other health practitioners) have an important role in achieving global nutrition security whether working domestically or internationally. The tips that follow show how to become involved in promoting global nutrition security:

        Increase awareness of how current world events relate to malnutrition.

o   Promote awareness of global nutrition security issues.

o   Learn about, respect, and understand diverse customs and cultures.

o   Write articles addressing global nutrition security for your local newspapers, state Academy association, political leaders, and nutrition or health promotion newsletters.

o   Encourage support for global and domestic outreach efforts promoting nutrition security.

o   Become actively involved to ensure nutrition security programs support sustainable development.

o   Establish a class on global nutrition security issues.

        Network by joining a professional internationally focused interest group.

o   Join organizations such as: The Overseas Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics; the Hunger and Environmental Nutrition Dietetic Practice Group of the Academy; the American Society of Nutrition’s International Nutrition Council; the Society for Nutrition Education and Behavior’s International Special Interest Group; the Society for Nutrition Education and Behavior’s International Nutrition Education Division or the American Public Health Association’s International Health Section.

o   Attend national and international professional meetings that have a strong agenda addressing global nutrition security.

o   Become familiar with international food assistance and education programs such as Oxfam America, Heifer International, or Bread for the World.

        Volunteer in local, national, or international humanitarian assistance efforts and medical missions.

        Take a class in global nutrition.

o   Learn more about the ramifications of domestic policy decisions on world food security (eg, trade, food regulations, import and export tariffs, and foreign aid).

o   Learn about the policies, programs, and issues related to nutrition security.

        As the nutrition experts, registered dietitians and dietetic technicians, registered, can provide continuing education seminars to other nutrition and medical professionals.

        Become more “green” as you make personal choices. Personal and national decisions affect our immediate environment and also people and environments in other parts of the world.

o   Teach others how changes in their eating and purchasing practices can reduce consumption of the world’s nonrenewable resources.

o   Support sustainable food and water efforts locally and internationally (eg, gardening, water filtering, well construction, fish ponds, and reforestation).

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Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Nutrition Security in Developing Nations: Sustainable Food, Water, and Health