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Numerous hospitals and senior living care facilities shying away from the traditional tray assembly line and converting their meal assembly space into pod systems. With this ability to offer a more personalized experience, allowing greater staff flexibility, and ensuring meal accuracy, pods can help to elevate food service operations .Healthcare providers nationwide have found that existing equipment, with a few additional pieces, can easily be converted into pods, all while increasing efficiency, food safety, meal delivery times, patient selection accuracy and ultimately patient satisfaction scores.

.A more efficient system leads to greater flexibility

When utilizing a pod assembly system, limited staff members work to assembly the meal from start to finish. In most pod assembly systems, a single server works with two hosts or hostesses. The server is responsible for dishing the meal, while the host or hostess adds a placemat, beverage, silverware, condiments, cold food, and any other finishing touches. The trays are then loaded on to carts and the host or hostess delivers the meal directly to the patient. This allows meals to still be assembled while others are being served. Different pod employees can than are assigned to particular floors or units of the hospital, further enhancing efficiency and accountability. Numerous hospitals have found this form of tray assembly allows them to decrease the time spent preparing a single tray and patients can receive their food faster. When meal orders are slow, pods or portions of a station can be shut down and staff can assist with other tasks. This increased flexibility will create a more product food service operation and enhance the overall flow.

Cross Contamination

Meeting our customers’ wants and needs, especially when it comes to their health needs, is essential. To better serve our clients, foodservice professionals must continue to pay attention to food allergy concerns as offering gluten-free products is one of the fastest growing segments in the industry. Another high and sensitive allergen is peanuts. Whatever the allergen is it needs to be handled in the correct manner.

As the gluten-free market increases, foodservice professionals should become educated on not only gluten-free ingredients, but also proper handling and preparation techniques to prevent cross-contamination of similar type of food allergens.

In order to remain allergen free, the food cannot come into contact with any food as well as any equipment or utensils that were used to prepare gluten products.

Here are some tips to follow when preparing these food and entrees:

  • Do not prepare foods on the same surface used to prepare food, unless it has been thoroughly cleaned
  • Have a separate set of utensils to be used for food products or thoroughly clean utensils Have completely separate equipment, such as dishes, cutting boards, and baking forms for preparation
  • Do not use the same toaster for gluten-free bread and regular bread
  • Do not deep-fry gluten-free foods in the same oil as food items that contain gluten
  • Designate specific kitchen areas for preparing gluten-free food and nut type of allergens

untitledA possible solution could be a singular pod set up, whether you have a traditional tray line or already using pods, as the way to get prepared food to your patients.

This set up is a way to isolate the threat of food being contaminated for a particular sensitive allergen. In this way, your trays for these patients would be set up in a single pod set up. Pod (point of delivery) set up for just those allergen diets. The air curtain[M1] , the table, the plates, the tray set up, etc… would be designated for those types of food. Then after set up, the trays are put into their own designated meal[M2] delivery carts. In this way, you have controlled the food preparation, tray set up and meal delivery right to the patient. Accountability all the way!

Keep foods contained, patients’ food safety up, employees’ morale up, hospital liability down and confidence of all up.


Do you think this could work? What would you do differently to ensure patient safety with food allergens?  Could this be applied to restaurants? Schools?



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Passionately Foodservice,




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