Case Study by Stevens Traceability Systems - Darlington Memorial Hospital

Case Study by Stevens Traceability Systems - Darlington Memorial Hospital

Stevens Traceability Systems (United Kingdom) - Our work with the hospital catering department serving 17,000 meals a week.

“Like any new system it did take some time to bed in and to change the staff culture from a paper system to an electronic system for food traceability, but a recent external audit highlighted how good the system is” - Head of Catering, Darlington Memorial Hospital.

Darlington Memorial Hospital is one of two acute hospital sites within County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust, the other being University Hospital of North Durham. The Catering Service based at Darlington Memorial Hospital provides and manages the nutritional and dietary needs for patients, staff and visitors – producing over 17,000 portions of food a week in doing so! Many of these meals are delivered to the Trust’s other sites, including six community hospitals.

We were proud to have the chance to work with the Catering Service, who similarly work closely with the Trust’s dieticians, to provide a system that ensures food safety across the board.


Recent external audits had focused on the existing traceability system in place within the Catering Service, which, while robust, was built alongside a paper trail. An opportunity was identified to implement a digital format system that met traceability and manufacturing needs while being user-friendly for operators and management alike.

While future plans might involve expanding a system into their central production unit, the initial priority for the team was to have full, digital traceability on all products that are produced.


With those priorities in mind, we provided the trust with our Dynamic Traceability System, consisting of two Vantage 2.1 Bench Scales, three thermal printers and a wireless scanner. The system assists with recording ingredients coming on to site and managing them from goods-in through to patient. With crystal clear touchscreen displays, our Vantage 2.1 terminals are easy to use for operators and allow for digital data processing across factory floor and office.

In short, the system works in the following way: At goods-in, an ingredient is scanned in and allocated a unique lot number, it is then booked into the relevant stock location according to the facility’s own guidelines on FEFO or positive release.

At weigh-up, the operator selects the necessary recipe from the facility’s database using the touch screen terminal that will then display the target weight and allowed tolerances (as set by the relevant internal parties). This provides clear feedback for the operator who can weigh the ingredient and only once the weight is within tolerance can they proceed to the next ingredient or step in the recipe.

This repeats until all ingredients have been weighed accordingly, and there are steps in place to prevent error like replacement batches for out-of-stock ingredients and setting supervisor approval where necessary. Throughout all of this, the unique batch or lot number for the ingredient is recorded at every stage to provide complete traceability and improve food safety.

Looking to the future, our modular approach to digital traceability also means that any system expansions into the central production unit can be easily implemented with no compromise or risk to existing data.


Thanks to our Dynamic Traceability System, Darlington Memorial Hospital’s catering team can now better manage the ingredients they use daily. This has enabled them to guarantee food safety and demonstrates to the department and wider Trust that food safety is a priority, and the important role food traceability plays in ensuring that.

Head of Catering at Darlington Memorial Hospital explained that…

“Like any new system it did take some time to bed in and to change the staff culture from a paper system to an electronic system for food traceability, but a recent external audit highlighted how good the system is”.

We did not have a robust traceability system in place to manage all the ingredients used in the meals we produce every week. Stevens’ Dynamic Traceability System assists with accurately logging the ingredients when they arrive at the hospital and with weighing them to ensure product consistency and reduce waste. It also enables any recalls to be carried out for all ingredients – not just high risk items like cooked meats.” - Head of Catering at Darlington Memorial Hospital - Taken from HCA Journal.

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