In the early '90s a large fast food chain woke up to a PR nightmare. Hundreds of customers had been infected with E. Coli bacteria from hamburgers. After spending much of the ’80s growing market share, patrons now avoided the restaurants as if they literally had The Plague. Sales plummeted. National expansion plans were shelved. Worst of all, four children died.

This problem still plagues us today. According to FoodSafety.gov, every year 48 million Americans get sick with food poisoning. Of those, 3,000 will die. Those numbers are staggering for such a preventable problem.

To combat food-borne illnesses, the foodservice industry has standardized HACCP, a system that makes sure food is cooked thoroughly and held at proper temperatures to prevent pathogens from getting into your food. These routine process checks have now become standard practice in foodservice everywhere

While HACCP regulations are good, the way in which many foodservice establishments maintain their logs is not. Many kitchens keep track of their HACCP compliance with a notebook or clipboard. Taking manual readings leaves lots of room for errors and omissions to cause problems for your customers and your business. Here’s a look at what could go wrong:

Records Get Lost. Oftentimes, HACCP temperature records are kept in a disorganized pile in the manager’s office. It’s easy to lose something like a small scrap of paper amongst the piles of receipts, paychecks and whatever else may be lying around.

Readings Not Done Correctly. It’s likely the manager doesn’t have the time to oversee every HACCP temperature reading. That means the task gets delegated to team members who might not be as proficient in recording HACCP data. Are you willing to bet that your staff is doing it accurately?

Catastrophic Destruction. A lot of things can happen in a kitchen that could threaten the safety of your paperwork. From fires to floods, once your HACCP readings are destroyed, they’re gone and you’ll have nothing to show when the health inspector comes around.

Pencil Whipping. Falling behind on your HACCP temperature readings could cause you to estimate what they were. As a result, you may be recalling false readings and submitting them to the FDA, which would be used against you if someone became ill from your food. False records that cover yourself at the expense of your customers can make everyone sick.

A Better Way. Now, technology offers a solution to these problems. 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. Records are kept digitally and are accessible from the cloud either on premises or from a central location, making it a perfect solution for multi-unit franchises or foodservice locations. Readings are never lost and there’s no loose paper trail if you don’t want one.

Additionally, if temperature readings fall short of your established guidelines, you can be immediately notified to correct the problem, rather than finding out hours or days after a breach happens. That means if a walk-in freezer malfunctions overnight, you can fix the problem before you lose all of your inventory. Automation ensures the product you’re storing, cooking and serving is a dish worthy of your establishment.

Edward Musial, a certified foodservice professional, is the v.p. of OEM Business Development at Kitchen Brains®, a leader in the development and deployment of integrated, end-to-end, wireless M2M networking solutions and SAAS applications for the commercial kitchen/food service industry. Christian Koether is v.p. of business development.