Offering food delivery services for your restaurant provides convenience to customers, generates new revenue sources, gives you a leg up on your competitors and grows your customer base. However, it takes careful planning to keep meals fresh, safe and delicious during transportation.
How can you keep food fresh during delivery? We have a few tips to help you navigate the process.
5 Ways to Keep Meals Fresh and Safe in Transit
There are several critical factors to ensuring quality meals for your customers, from investing in pristine products to maintaining safe temperatures during transit. The five key tips below teach you how to keep food fresh for delivery.
1. Remain Present, Aware and in Charge
Consistently staying on top of the transit process is essential to ensure fresh food. Paying close attention to your customers’ needs helps you resolve potential errors before the food even leaves the kitchen. For example, adding extra ice packs keeps frozen meal deliveries from thawing on longer deliveries.
Noticing in advance if a particular product appears off can prevent a delivery that doesn’t meet freshness standards. Here are some things to look for when checking the quality of your food items:
- Abnormal discoloration
- Large ice crystals on frozen foods
- Rotting or moldy products
- Dented, punctured or dirty packaging
- Broken seals on containers
- Droppings or other signs of pests
- Signs of thawing in frozen items
- Old expiration dates
- Moisture stains on dried food packaging
- Meat, fish or poultry that doesn’t smell fresh
Don’t be in a hurry to pass delivery responsibilities on to third-party services — you can no longer monitor the food once it leaves your possession. Staying in the loop with your meal delivery services helps ensure optimal efficiency and quality to fully meet your customers’ demands.
2. Invest in Good, High-Quality Products
While it likely means higher upfront expenses, investing in the highest quality products saves costs in the long run. You can avoid constantly remaking and refunding orders due to expired or low-quality items by investing in high-quality packaging such as:
- Sturdy boxes.
- Long-lasting ice packs.
- Strong bubble wrap.
- Packaging dividers.
- Moisture-resistant food packaging.
3. Ensure Sanitation and Cleanliness
Your mode of transportation should meet all food delivery standards to ensure your meals remain fresh, safe and in mint condition. These cleanliness guidelines can help protect the food when you’re transporting meals in a vehicle:
- Avoid strong or unpleasant smells: An odorous vehicle can interfere with both your products’ quality and your business’s reputation. For example, the smell of cigarette smoke attaches to items like clothing and cardboard boxes, especially during the winter months.
- Clean and sanitize delivery vehicles regularly: Set a schedule for how often to clean each vehicle, with a checklist to track necessary cleaning tasks.
- Ensure clean food packaging before it leaves the kitchen: Customers see your packaging before they see the food, so ensure a good first impression. Dirt, marks, scratches, holes and other defects may leave the customer wondering what cleanliness issues the food might have.
- Educate your staff on proper cleanliness guidelines: Discuss regular sanitation practices with your employees as soon as they join your team. They should understand all of their responsibilities, including hand washing, vehicle cleaning, food inspection and any other essential areas. Outline these rules early on and give occasional refreshers to long-term employees to ensure they’re upholding these standards. A clean establishment, vehicles, products and staff is vital to keep customers satisfied.
4. Maintain Safe Food Temperatures
Temperature control, both inside the kitchen and during transit, is one of the most vital components of food safety and freshness. Leaving food in the temperature “Danger Zone” of 40-140 degrees Fahrenheit for over two hours causes foodborne pathogens to multiply rapidly. Consuming this bacteria-ridden food might make you sick.
Here are some essential tips for keeping food out of the temperature danger zone:
- How to keep food hot for delivery: Deliver hot foods at 140 degrees Fahrenheit or above. Use a portable food warmer or insulated bags with heat packs to keep foods hot during transit. Packing hot foods separately from cold foods and keeping the vehicle’s air conditioner off also helps maintain heat.
- How to keep food cold for delivery: You should deliver refrigerated foods at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below, while frozen goods should maintain a temperature of 0 degrees Fahrenheit or below. Ice cream is the exception to this rule — it should hold a temperature of 7-10 degrees Fahrenheit at delivery. Insulated food containers and cold packs help keep foods cool.
Additionally, don’t rely solely on the vehicle’s thermometer. Double-check the temperature with your own calibrated thermometer as an added precaution. Remember to follow these guidelines in the kitchen as well, using refrigerator and food thermometers to ensure safe food temperatures.
5. Address Problems Immediately
Finally, it’s crucial to address any problems with food safety and freshness right away. Waiting too long to address the issue or accept responsibility may result in a dissatisfied customer.
We recommend addressing the problem with your staff first. Tell them what happened and how you plan to prevent it from reoccurring. Having a plan of action reinforces the importance of the standards that everyone must follow.
You should then discuss the issue with the customer. Explain what went wrong and that you’re actively working on correcting the problem as quickly as possible. Addressing the issue directly and communicating the action you’re taking shows that you care about your business and the customer’s satisfaction. They may be more likely to use your services again if they know you’re committed to resolving the problem.
Try to address any problems with gratitude. Provide remakes and refunds when necessary or offer the customer a discount coupon.
However, it’s also important to remember that we’re human, and we all make mistakes. Implementing new processes is an effective way to prevent these mistakes from repeating themselves. Don’t feel discouraged when a mishap occurs during delivery. Instead, think of it as a learning experience for the future.
Ensure Fresh, Efficient Food Delivery With Revolving Kitchen
Investing in high-quality kitchen space and equipment helps maintain optimal food freshness for your customers. At Revolving Kitchen, we have private, extensive cloud kitchen units available for hourly or long-term rental.
Our kitchens are fully equipped with modern amenities — large walk-in coolers and freezers, dry storage space, CCTV Security, WiFi and conference rooms. — to let you and your staff prepare food both efficiently and safely. With low startup costs, minimal overhead and added convenience, a cloud kitchen may be the asset you didn’t know you needed.
Take your restaurant to the next level with Revolving Kitchen. Contact us online today for more information about our innovative cloud kitchens!