Ghost kitchens could be the food producers of the future, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and the growing trend of online takeaway and delivery. However, when it comes to these types of kitchens’ food safety and sanitation protocols, it’s hard to understand exactly what is going on behind the scenes. There isn’t much information about the legal requirements for ghost kitchens, as it is difficult to define them as restaurants or caterers.
Because the ghost kitchen’s restaurant operations are virtual, a single kitchen can operate a number of different brands from one single location. With this in mind, how does food score work? How do these kitchens handle hygiene, cleanliness, and food safety protocols?
In this guide, we’ll explore what ghost kitchens are, why they are becoming more popular, and how food safety protocols come into play.
What is a Ghost Kitchen?
Ghost kitchens, also known as cloud or dark kitchens, are virtual restaurants that operate outside of your typical restaurant. These kitchens have been around for about half a decade now, but the pandemic has made this niche explode in growth due to an increase in food delivery.
Just as well, ghost kitchens are definitely more cost-efficient when it comes to launching new brands and potentially entering or testing new markets. There are a few great advantages to owning a ghost kitchening, including:
- A smaller workforce, since there is no front of house or need for waiters and hosts.
- It’s very easy to order food from a ghost kitchen via third-party food apps or a solo custom platform.
- The real estate is less expensive, since there is no front of house dining area.
- The service is much faster.
- There is no need to purchase decor.
- There is no need to outsource a third-party delivery service, as ghost kitchens can employ their own delivery teams.
There are also a number of different business models that ghost kitchens can employ. They can support delivery, use one kitchen for multiple brand variations, operate simply as a meal prep space, or serve as a “co-working” space for multiple kitchens.
This is all well and good, but some consumers are concerned about the safety regulations employed by these kitchens. At a traditional restaurant, it’s fairly easy to get an idea of the sanitation level of the business. With dark kitchens, it’s impossible to see who is making your food and whether or not the right sanitation protocols are being followed.
So, how do ghost kitchens adhere to food safety standards?
It’s no secret that virtual restaurants are taking advantage of a very good opportunity to experience rapid growth and steady income. However, there is some concern that many virtual restaurants are keeping their kitchens hidden in order to employ staff who are much less qualified or even unqualified to be in a kitchen.
So is this true? Yes and no.
In any industry, even the food industry, there are bad eggs. (Pardon the pun.) There are likely some virtual restaurants that are operated by people without any training, which can be dangerous when it comes to allergen policies and food sanitation.
Just as well, many of these businesses are operating via social media, rather than more reputable platforms such as food delivery apps. In a world where almost 2.4 million people in the U.K. alone become sick from food poisonning, it makes sense why this is a concern.
Any restaurant, virtual or otherwise, that is worth investing time and money in will also employ qualified staff and provide training opportunities. However, even the best virtual restaurants may struggle to manage food safety compliance. This is expected, as it can be difficult to keep up with food safety standards while experiencing such rapid, sudden growth.
This is where food safety management software comes in.
The Benefits of Food Safety Management Software for Virtual Restaurants and Ghost Kitchens
According to the World Health Organization’s Interim Guidance on Food Safety for Restaurants, ghost kitchens and other delivery-focused food businesses should follow a few very simple but very specific practices:
“Food Delivery Executives should be supplied with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, a disinfectant, and paper towels,” the document reads, “Even the food suppliers must use a hand sanitizer before passing the delivery documents to the restaurant staff. Food-delivery restaurants must encourage the use of disposable containers and packaging to avoid the need for cleaning of any returns. In the case of delivering food in the reusable containers, operators must implement appropriate hygiene and sanitation protocols.”
In order for a ghost kitchen to be as compliant and sanitary as possible, there are a few simple processes to employ:
- Access to hand sanitizer, disinfectant, and cleaning supplies
- Safe packaging
- Strict hygiene and sanitation
- Thorough training for all employees on food safety
- Zero-contact delivery options
All of these different processes can be easily implemented through a high-quality food safety management platform.
Food safety management software is an automated system that can help business owners and staff manage their food safety processes, especially processes involved in HAACP. Such software will deploy digital food safety and HSE management systems, audits, checklists, temperature monitoring systems, and other features that ghost kitchens can use to streamline their food safety processes.
In traditional restaurants with obsolete food safety practices, staff will often use a pen to paper to tick off different parts of a checklist for their morning food prep, daily sanitation, and walk-in cooler and freezer checks. This is very inefficient, as there is no accountability and it is easy to make mistakes or forget to even use the checklist.
With food safety management systems, this is an issue of the past. Using modern touchscreens, staff in traditional restaurants and ghost kitchens alike can access their daily or weekly food safety checklists and easily perform checks and audits on daily processes.
Qualizy Food safety management software can also help ghost kitchen staff track food allergens and expiration dates. It’s an excellent system to use in order to collaborate with ghost kitchens staff in order to keep things sanitary, safe, fast, and even more efficient than before.
Qualizy Could Take Your Virtual Restaurant to the Next Level
Do you run a ghost kitchen and want to optimize your food safety protocols? Look no further than Qualizy.
Qualizy is a food safety digital platform that allows businesses to become more transparent by using an irrefutable live stream of data. Using this type of software will demonstrate commitment towards protecting your customers and also ensure that your restaurant is operating at optimum efficiency. Less food waste, less money wasted, and all the benefits of organizational software that is easy to use.
Owners of ghost kitchens should always make food safety and customer reassurance a priority– not just to cover legal bases, but to create a brand presence that customers are much more likely to believe in and support. That is the road to success, and food safety software can help you get there.
Qualizy was built by actual chefs and experienced restaurant owners, so you know you’re getting a product that was made with your needs in mind.
Ready to change the way your virtual restaurant manages food safety compliance? Get in touch with our team today to learn more about how Qualizy can help you digitally transform your restaurant to become more compliant and much more efficient.