Another part of my job as a dietetic intern with Patient Food Services, is to conduct several tray audits while I am here. A tray audit means that I order a lunch “test tray” and then watch it being assembled, put onto the cart, follow it up to the room, and then when all the other meal trays on the cart have been delivered to the patients, I take my test tray and test it for temperature, portion size, appearance, quality & preparation, taste & aroma, missing items or subs, and tray completeness and cleanliness.
An example of what a tray audit form looks like
The digital internal thermometer I use
The scores are tallied and if it receives a 96%-100%, it is ranked as excellent, 90%-95% is satisfactory, and below 90% is unsatisfactory. Of the three tray audits I conducted this week, I received all three ranks– excellent, satisfactory, and unsatisfactory.
The excellent tray took 25 minutes to get from assembly to delivery (goal is 30 minutes or less). I ordered the ADA1800 diabetic diet, and the hot items — pulled pork sandwich, corn, and coffee were all above the standard temperature. The cold items — coleslaw and gelatin were also all below their standard temperatures. Nothing was missing from the meal order and everything tasted of quality. It received a 100% excellent rating.
The unsatisfactory tray took 15 minutes to get from assembly to delivery. I ordered the regular diet this time. There were several temperature issues. The soup and coffee were both a few degrees colder than standard temperature, and the milk and chicken salad sandwich were also a few degrees warmer than standard temperature. The meal was missing a few things on the meal ticket– the ticket said 2 packets of salt and 1 packet of mayonnaise, but there was only 1 packet of salt and no packets of mayonnaise. Because of the temperature issues and missing condiments, this tray received an 88% unsatisfactory rating.
And finally, yesterday I ordered another diabetic (ADA1800) lunch tray. This one took 23 minutes to get from assembly to delivery, and I found it to be satisfactory. The only issues were that the broccoli was colder than standard temperature (it was below the standard 130 degrees F), the tomato and cucumber salad was a few degrees too warm, and the milk was warmer than standard temperature as well. Everything on the tray was accurate and lined up with the meal order ticket. So this tray received a 92% satisfactory rating.
I have a few more tray audits to complete next week, and when all the tray audits have been done, I plan to write up a summary, including any suggestions I have for improving the average score of these tray audits. Tray audits are important because they can uncover reoccuring issues with the meal trays so corrective action can be taken. For example, if the milks are always coming back too warm, then we would need to come up with a different food delivery system that would keep the milk below 41 degrees F every time. If the condiments are consistently missing from the trays, then we could remind the hostesses and diet clerks about this. If there is a food dish that always lacks in appearance, we could come up with a garnish to make it look more appealing. I think that tray audits should be conducted several times a month, and in order to get a more accurate overall picture, I think the trays should vary– different diets, different meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner), and they should be delivered onto different floors.