ComplianceMate Blog

Is it possible to eliminate pencil whipping (fake data) in restaurant food safety practices?

It was a Friday morning, and the owner of a franchise operation with 12 restaurants told his staff that he was leaving for the weekend. Then – surprise! – he made an unannounced late afternoon visit.

Unfortunately, his employees had a surprise of their own awaiting him – and not a good one. He discovered that time and temperature records had already been produced for the whole weekend.

The workers thought he was going to be gone, so they “pencil whipped” (faked) the records.

Such falsified information has the potential to endanger both customer health and the restaurant’s legal compliance. In fact, pencil whipping is a recipe for disaster.

Technology may hold the key to rescuing restaurants from pencil whipping. “Automating your HACCP temperature recording process with a system of remote monitors maintains tracking of your food and storage temperatures 100 percent of the time,” writes Fast Casual Magazine.

In other words, it removes or reduces the point of vulnerability in the system – human error or bad behavior.

Better yet, the technology can be configured to solve this problem in whatever way meets the restaurant’s needs and preferences.

For example, an automated system will log temperatures using remote sensors at selected intervals with no human intervention at all. No pencil whipping is possible if humans aren’t even involved in the process. Or it can be set up to automatically alert higher-ups by text message or other means whenever checks are missed or attempted outside of allowable timeframes.

In other words, in an analog world, our hapless franchise owner had to just trust his people. Most of the time that trust was well-founded. But for those times when it’s not, digital technology offers the owner a layer of control and protection against bad behavior and error, altogether preventing or reducing the likelihood of falsified or incorrect food safety records.

Read more about pencil whipping, or contact ComplianceMate.

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