Here are 9 Ways Avendra is working behind the scenes to deliver value, consistency and quality beyond contracting
Doing the right thing also means employing the right team of Quality Assurance (QA) professionals eager to extend their service reach beyond contracting to monitoring supplier practices ensuring maximum value for Avendra clients. As an example, the QA team at Avendra visits farms and manufacturing plants to see how growers manage crops and verify they have the right processes in place to prevent people from getting hurt, sick or causing an incident. They’re in kitchens and coolers keeping abreast of product specifications and following up on deficiencies that require corrective action.
Few people know the extent to which the Avendra Quality Assurance team will go to protect clients from liability and guarantee that the very best products and procedures are in play. Here are 9 ways Avendra has its clients covered with strict standards for safety, quality and value:
Conducting White Glove Tests
To make sure its clients get the level of quality they expect, Avendra’s QA team puts suppliers and manufacturers through a rigorous approval process. They not only want to see certificates of analysis (COA) for ingredients used to make purchased products, but they look at the facility’s sanitation program to ensure consistent, safe, quality cleaning. They want to know how the facility is cleaned and how often – and they want proof that sanitation is happening every Tuesday and Thursday as specified. They also demand detailed reports on damaged products to ensure nothing is passed on to the customer.
The Quality Assurance team also makes sure suppliers and manufacturers comply with all applicable laws such as FDA, USDA and local health requirements. They need to have Hazard Analysis of Critical Control Points (HACCP) programs in place identifying steps during processing or distribution that have been identified as critical to maintaining the integrity and safety of the products. The team also looks at traceability processes so that in the event of a recall customers can be identified and notified very quickly, removing the effected product from operations.
Making a Beef Over Beef
Escherichia coli (E. coli) is bacteria that resides lives in the intestines of healthy people and animals. Most varieties of E. coli are harmless or cause relatively brief stomach problems, but a few strains can cause severe abdominal cramps, damage kidneys or result in death. Once beef has been sent to the processing plant from the farm, Avendra’s QA team requires that a test and hold process be performed. Every batch is tested for E. coli 0157H7 and held until a negative result is returned. Then it can be distributed to the hotel. This extra level of assurance helps guarantee owners there will be no guest incidents.
Sampling Shrimp Not on the Barbie
The Avendra QA team often travels abroad to test products before they are imported to the U.S. For example, the team was dispatched to Asia to visit ponds where a supplier grows shrimp. The team analyzed how the shrimp beds were handled, what additives were involved, does it retain moisture and plump or shrink from soaking in a salt chemical solution. They even examined the texture of the shrimp and tasted it to see how the shrimp felt in their mouths.
Detecting How the Mouse Got to Back of the House
Rodents can cause serious issues for food service establishments. Not only can they cause gnawing damage to structures and equipment, but they can carry pathogens that may cause disease, and unsanitary rodent droppings can contaminate equipment and food. Any time the cleanliness of an operation is compromised it can impact the health of guests and employees. The Avendra QA team will analyze how food scraps and leftovers are being discarded. They look for crumbs that may have fallen into crevices and along baseboards and determine if moisture spills are dried in a timely manner. They will recommend: a) decluttering so rodents can’t nest; b) trimming landscaping to make the exterior less attractive to pests; and, 3) filling cracks as small as a dime to prevent mice from entering the building.
Checking for Salmonella in Peanut Butter
Roughly 1.2 million children and teens in the United States – or just over 2% of the non-adult population – have peanut allergies, but did you know peanut butter was at high risk for Salmonella? All commodities contracted by Avendra are assigned a Risk (High, Medium, Low) which designates the frequency with which they are audited and reviewed. Ever since there was a prolonged Salmonella outbreak linked to peanut butter in the early 2000s, peanut butter has risen to the top of the “high risk” list. The Avendra QA team is often conducting audits to make sure high-risk products like peanut butter and even ice cream are being maintained properly. If problems are detected, the team then follows up to enforce correction action requirements.
Finding Flaws in Food Storage
With customer consent, the Avendra QA team conducts unannounced supplier delivery audits, at their locations to make sure that we have oversight of the entire supply chain process. They look at driver identification, trailer temperature and integrity, product condition, temperature and shelf life, and product weights to make sure they are matching what hotels are charged for on their invoice. They also provide receiver training along with appropriate ways to store and rotate items in a customer’s facility.
Meeting the Trucks – Suprise!
To ensure that its distributors are delivering goods as promised at a quality level demanded by Avendra and expected by its clients, the Q A team visits customer locations on a day when multiple Avendra supplier deliveries are expected and conducts audits at the time of delivery. Contracted suppliers are not informed of the audit in advance. Suppliers are rated on order fulfillment, trailer load, product integrity and overall performance. Those who do not receive a perfect score on the audit are provided feedback to help ensure their continued improvement. Suppliers who have deficiencies during their inspections must provide Avendra with written notice of their corrective action. In 2019, Avendra’s QA team conducted 1,444 Meet the Truck audits at 479 customer locations. These audits were in addition to the 782 supplier audits conducted at Avendra manufacturers’ and distributors’ facilities. Of the 850+ hospitality suppliers with which Avendra contracts, 237 scored 95 percent or better, and 250 received audit scores of 90 percent or better.
Tasting and Evaluating Coffee Alternatives
If a client is looking to change a product, the Avendra QA team is often called in to help the operator find an alternative product. Rather than making decisions for our customers, Avendra QA is guiding them through a process that enables them to make the best product specification decisions for their business. This considers the need for different tiers of products (Good, Better, Best) for various applications as well as hitting a price point that meets budgetary guidelines.
For example, the team recently set up a blind coffee taste test. The team identified quality coffees from 10 vendors. Each product was assigned a random three-digit number. The hotel team was asked to evaluate each number based on taste, aroma, appearance and mouth feel. After each number was scored, the QA team evaluated the results. They looked at the ranking of the product compared to its price and then determined where in the hotel that coffee would be best served. The coffee receiving a 5 out of 5 ranking that came in at a higher price point was selected for the restaurant where guests were willing to pay more for it while the coffee receiving a 4 out of 5 was chosen for the banquet department where quantity and cost were impacted differently.
Evaluating Laundry Procedures
The Avendra QA team has developed an audit that looks at things in commercial laundries. Checking inventory is key, and that includes knowing how many pieces are in the wash, what the par level should be for shelf stock and the number of pieces being taken out of inventory due to damage. Avendra will even work with the facility to determine how many washes can they get out of a towel before it is taken out of rotation.
Operating under the Avendra umbrella, the Quality Assurance team will cover its customers with best practices to keep them profitable and operating in the black for years to come.