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HA442 : The Class : Food Service Control : Receiving : Receiving


The Receiving Control Point

The receiving function is critical because at this control point ownership of the products is transferred from the supplier or vendor to the operation.

Receiving comes into focus after the menu has been planned and the products dictated by the menu have been purchased. The objectives of the receiving function include inspecting deliveries to evaluate the quality and determine the Quantity of the products, checking prices, and arriving at an accept or reject decision. In reality, receiving practices range from carefully checking each item delivered to allowing the supplier's truck driver to put the order away and the manager simply signing the invoice. However, from a control standpoint, the former method is certainly preferable to the latter one.

A carefully planned menu and skillful purchasing are useless if the operation accepts inferior products. Conversely, good receiving techniques can maximize the results of the other control points. Receiving success requires competent personnel, proper equipment, adequate receiving facilities, established receiving hours, and several types of receiving control forms.

Receiving and Personnel

The number of persons working at the receiving control point varies among food service operations. The major determining factor is the size of the operation and its annual sales volume. In a relatively small operation, the manager or the assistant manager is usually in charge of receiving. In a larger operation, one full-time or two part-time people typically handle the receiving function, and the person in charge of receiving may be called a receiving clerk, steward, or storeroom person. This individual usually reports either to the food controller, the assistant manager, or the food and beverage manager.

Regardless of how many individuals are assigned to the receiving function, the general requirements are the same:

1. Familiarity with the necessary forms, tools, and equipment
2. Literacy
3. Quality judgment
4. Product knowledge
5. Sanitation judgment
6. Personal integrity, precision, and accuracy
7. Willingness to protect the interests of the organization
8. Ability to coordinate the needs of the operation's departments with the supplies being delivered

The person in charge of receiving should be able to effectively use all equipment, facilities, and forms required at this control point. (More will be said about these tools in later sections.)

Because of the volume of written information used at this control point, the operation's receiver must be able to read and write. Among other things, the receiver must be able to check the actual products delivered against the written purchase specifications and written purchase orders. The receiver should know acceptable product quality characteristics based on the operation's standard purchase specifications. A knowledge of product grades, weight ranges, and fat trim factors is crucial to the success of receiving. In addition, the receiver should be able to assess packaging conditions. Furthermore, the receiver must be able to judge the sanitary condition of the products and the delivery vehicle.

The receiver should be a person who demonstrates honesty and attention to detail. The receiver's integrity ensures that the establishment's standards, policies, and procedures will not be compromised. The receiver must be someone who takes this important job seriously. Negligence or inaccuracy on the part of the receiver does financial damage to the business.

Clearly, the receiver must be someone who is committed to protecting the interests of the operation. While food production experience is invaluable in the receiver, this does not imply that any kitchen worker in the operation is qualified to perform the receiving function. Only selected and trained employees should be permitted to receive food and nonfood products. A facility that allows the janitor, dishwasher, or bus-person to do its receiving is opening the door for trouble. These individuals are not in a position to recognize product problems nor what to do about them.

A properly trained receiver, on the other hand, knows what to do when there is a problem with product deliveries. The receiver uses his or her clout with the supplier to point out problems to the delivery person and see that they are corrected. In this respect, the receiving function is even more important than the purchasing function because as soon as the receiver signs the invoice, the merchandise is legally accepted and is no longer the responsibility of the supplier. Thereafter, any problems with the products are the operation's problems.

Finally, the person in charge of receiving needs cooperation from other departments in the food service establishment or hotel. The receiver must coordinate supply requisitions from the departments with the delivery schedules of suppliers. Ideally, receiving should take place during slow periods in the operation's daily business cycle. This is particularly important when the receiver is also the chef, assistant manager, or manager. During rush periods, these individuals have other duties and responsibilities. By scheduling deliveries during slow periods, the receiver's undivided attention can be given to the receiving duties.

Receiving and Inventory

Before they become inventory items, all product deliveries must be verified. This verification is a two step process. First, the supplier's invoice is checked-against the establishment's purchase order and standard purchase specifications. The supplier's invoice is a document detailing the products being delivered to the facility and the corresponding prices. (In some cases, it also shows products which are back ordered or not yet available for delivery.) Since the supplier uses the sum of invoices to calculate the bill, each invoice must be verified for accuracy.

At the second step, when the order is delivered, the products themselves should be checked against the supplier's invoice. Any products invoiced on the basis of weight should be weighed using an accurate scale. To determine the net weight of the products, they should be removed from their packing containers or the weight of the containers should be subtracted from the gross weight. Different cuts of meat which are delivered together must be weighed separately because of varying per pound prices. Any products delivered on the basis of count should be counted before they are accepted. If more than one container of the same product is delivered, a spot-check of random containers to verify the count may be sufficient.

In some cases, the invoice may need to be modified because the products are spoiled, do not meet the establishment's specifications, or the wrong quantity has been delivered. A request for a credit memo is used by the operation to state the reasons why the products are unacceptable and to ask the supplier to credit the invoice. The supplier should then issue a credit memo to adjust the account. This form helps to ensure that the food service establishment is charged only for the products that conform to its standards.

If a thorough inspection of every product delivery seems to be unnecessarily complex or time-consuming, it isn't. The food service business can only gain from a policy of consistent inspection. It keeps honest suppliers honest and discourages dishonest suppliers from dealing with the operation.

Storing new inventory items in the proper order can preserve product quality and food safety. The most perishable items (i.e., frozen products) should be placed in storage first. Next, refrigerated meats, fish, poultry, dairy products, and produce should be rapidly stored. Finally, the least perishable items (staple foods and nonfood supplies) should be stored. Adhering to this order minimizes product deterioration and loss of quality. At the moment the delivery is accepted, the safety of the food becomes the responsibility of the food service establishment. The receiver should strive to keep the time elapsed between acceptance and

Receiving and Facilities

Proper receiving facilities are essential to the attainment of the establishment's sanitation, quality, and cost standards at the receiving control point. Receiving facilities include inside and outside areas surrounding the loading dock, the back door, and the receiving office.

Costs are easier to control when the receiving facilities are equipped with the necessary tools and work surfaces. A work table or desk is essential for record keeping and administrative responsibilities. Additional table space should be available for opening product containers during inspection of deliveries. Adequate floor space is necessary so that orders do not pile up in the receiving area. Overcrowding in the delivery area results in safety and sanitation hazards.

Some establishments receive products in the same way they have done it for years. They never bother to reevaluate the function to identify areas for possible improvement. As a result, these operations are not maximizing their utilization of resources at the receiving control point. There is no room for negligence, waste, or error in receiving. Evidence of any of these problems may suggest the need for reevaluation of the receiving function.

Because the control points are all interrelated, receiving should also be reevaluated when menu planning or purchasing activities are changed. For example, if a small operation changes its menu, and business improves dramatically, perhaps the operation's increased sales volume would justify hiring a full-time receiving person. The operation's orders can only be checked in properly if the receiver has enough time and the correct tools.

Management should make periodic checks of the receiving function to evaluate how effectively the operation is handling this control point. Regardless of the size of the business, the more consistent and routine the receiving function becomes, the fewer problems there will be. As with all the other control points, an evaluation of the costs versus the benefits indicates the degree to which more sophisticated controls are required. What takes place at the back door can make or break a business. Invoices are checked against the purchase order and specifications. The quality and condition of each delivered item is examined. A request for a credit memo is used for any damaged or spoiled products.

Perishable products are carefully checked by weight and/or count. Canned and staple items are also spot-checked. When the invoice is signed, the establishment is committed to payment. All of these procedures take time, but they increase the probability of success. The attitude of the receiver is important to the success of the business. If the receiver is thorough and honest, suppliers are much more likely to follow the operation's specifications. Receiving is an important part of the establishment's overall strategy for success.

To complete this Topic successfully, please complete the following activities in the order shown below:

ACTIVITY: Examine the receiving practices of a food service operation

You should now:

Go on to Storage
Go back to Food Service Control Points

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