3rd September 2021
Global food waste is a huge contributor to climate change at a time when all industries need to take steps to curb their carbon footprint.
Andrew Pond, Business Development Director, Civica, explores how our technology can help reduce food waste in catering.
Taking into account household and commercial kitchens, the UK produces 9.5 million tonnes of food waste each year according to WRAP, 70% of which was intended to be consumed by people.
This waste is equivalent to around 25 million tonnes of CO2e in greenhouse gases – around 5% of all UK territorial emissions and the same as 10 million cars. Clearly the industry needs to do more, particularly as we move towards the UK’s zero carbon target.
We partnered with WRAP earlier this year to support the UK’s first ever Food Waste Action Week and we continue to work with clients to help achieve their food waste objectives. Let’s look at the importance of that in hospitals in particular.
Reducing food waste in hospitals
The Independent Review of NHS Hospital Food in England, published in October 2020, highlights the role of technology in reducing food waste. In its eight key recommendations, it notes that digital solutions are helping healthcare teams to collate food choices, manage allergies and diets, and – crucially - minimise waste. You can read more about the other key recommendations in our insight post.
The Review states that every hospital should implement a digital meal ordering system by 2022. This will drive a number of benefits including safe ordering and mapping to patients’ care plans, better tailoring of meals to patients’ needs, as well as reducing time between ordering and meal service through electronic ordering. It will also support an overall reduction in waste.
The Hospital Food Review highlights how technology can drive efficiencies across the whole catering process, from menu planning and ingredient purchase to stock management. And at the heart of this is advanced catering and kitchen management software solutions like Civica Catering Management (formerly Saffron).
Civica Catering Management offers an all-encompassing view of operations to drive efficiency, support compliance and enhance visibility. It accurately measures and records waste, and can report on this in terms of a percentage of revenue or consumption – helping caterers to take the right steps to minimise the amount of food wasted.
Taking into account the recommendations of the Hospital Food Review, it can be the key to running an efficient catering operation and thus reducing food waste without compromising efficiency. With so many perishable items involved in maintaining healthy food service, it is important that organisations keep minimal stock but can easily access a clear snapshot at any time. Civica’s dynamic stock management also pulls in information from sales and production to provide real-time, accurate stock data.
Electronic meal ordering
In its recommendations, the Hospital Food Review also states that electronic meal ordering allows patients to choose their meal much closer to the time they will eat it, so patients are less likely to change their mind about what they want, leading to less food waste. In addition, this can reduce the likelihood of food arriving on a ward after the patient has left.
Civica Bedside takes electronic meal ordering to the next level. The ward host uses a tablet device to input preferences for specific patients, rather than beds. Easy to navigate and fully tailored to the individual, this system allows patients to choose from a specific list of meals that are suitable to them, and ensures they receive their chosen meal even if they are moved. takes electronic meal ordering to the next level. The ward host uses a tablet device to input preferences for specific patients, rather than beds. Easy to navigate and fully tailored to the individual, this system allows patients to choose from a specific list of meals that are suitable to them, and ensures they receive their chosen meal even if they are moved.
This requirement for human interaction between the ward host and patient ensures accuracy and efficiency, prevents delays and improves the patient experience. It also supports the objective of reducing food waste.
Take the option to input specific preferences, for example. If 50% of those who order soup prefer not to eat a bread roll, then traditionally that could leave hundreds of bread rolls wasted each week across a large trust. Civica Catering Management allows the host to input the information and prevent wastage, without increasing the burden on busy ward staff or catering teams.