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Food Recall Management Software Enhances Food Audit Readiness
Mike Koeris

By: Mike Koeris on May 30th, 2018

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Food Recall Management Software Enhances Food Audit Readiness

Food Safety  |  Food Safety Audit  |  Food Safety Software

Many of us can honestly say there are aspects of our jobs that feel like a never-ending cycle. For plant and quality assurance managers in the food industry, the responsibility of preparing for audits really is an endless challenge. The perpetual need to ensure audit readiness can seem relentless and burdensome. The reality, however, is that food safety can be managed in a highly systematic way -- one that equips you and your team to embrace the kind of audit preparation that doesn’t spur an incessant loop of tedious tasks.

Consider your current methods for food safety management and audit planning. Does your team still resort to manual practices that involve ongoing spreadsheet organization and paper filing? How are you tracking the critical data and testing results associated with this monumental effort? Is there a time-consuming process in place to laboriously pull complex data points and assimilate detailed reports each and every time an audit event approaches?

It’s no wonder this obligation has become such a draining endeavor, and unfortunately, today’s food safety climate is only going to heighten the difficulty of your situation. As regulations evolve, audit requirements mount and food safety recalls incur more damaging costs, the responsibility of ensuring audit readiness will become even more daunting for managers who continue to rely on outdated, manual processes to address this need.

Here’s the good news, though: Software solves the problem, transforming your monotonous cycle of food safety management and audit preparation into a revolutionized, streamlined and expedient system. How? This can be easily explained by breaking down the various elements of traditional, manual approaches that elevate time- and stress-related challenges. Let’s identify these problematic items and reveal the advantages of implementing food safety management software to eliminate them one by one.     

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The Vicious Strain of Volume

Far too many manufacturers in the food and beverage industry are still resorting to paper-based methods to fulfill food safety and audit management needs. These particularly painful systems of recording, filing and storing huge volumes of food safety data often result in reduced resources, impractical time constraints, storage limit frustrations and a high level of stress.

Think of the impact that paper pushing has on your operation in terms of lost or misplaced documents, disorganized filing efforts, accumulations of paper piles, storage deficiencies, reporting challenges and inaccuracies caused by human error. The added costs and man hours make it impossible to maintain an efficient and effective baseline of food safety and auditing measures.  

That is why a cloud-based management solution is a total game-changer. It eliminates the chaos generated by manual efforts and minimizes the risk of food safety failures. A smart management software delivers robust automation and time-saving features, such as:

  • Highly efficient digital documentation, archival and audit preparation
  • Radically optimized communication between departments
  • Dynamic and streamlined reporting capabilities
  • Automatic scheduling and monitoring properties
  • Holistic plant visualization with color-coded floor plans
  • Customized and detailed workflows
  • Functional checklists for effective change management

In this age of strict industry regulation and magnified consumer discernment, there’s no option but to enforce systems that can adequately address the myriad of compliance and safety expectations placed upon your facility. There can be no sustainable success in this area without a thorough and efficient recordkeeping effort, a logical method for data archiving, a comprehensive audit trail history and an active reporting process. So if you’re working tirelessly to keep your archives organized and up to date, it’s time to leave the hassling paper cycle behind and leverage a food safety management system that simplifies the fulfillment of these requirements.

The Burden of Proof

It’s not enough to carry out compliant food safety steps; you must also be able to PROVE that you’re doing so. There has to be documentation and checkpoints that produce legitimate proof of your efforts. And let’s be candid: An audit is not the ideal time to find out that a team member is using old forms or failing to follow the correct processes.

When we think about prevention as it pertains to food safety threats, we should be focused on the entire web of checks and balances that properly validate our efforts. From the HARPC and SSOPs to testing results and audit trails, data proof and document control is paramount to overseeing food safety at every stage of manufacturing. Otherwise, chaos ensues -- and that’s a route no plant or quality assurance manager wants to take.

Just as your people and operations are in constant motion, so must your recordkeeping, monitoring and process improvement be. Manual systems simply don’t support the need to maintain data tracking and corrective action plans in a manner that’s consistent with your daily food safety requirements. How can you effectively bridge the gap between action and archival without slowing down your team or your operations? The answer is digitization.

You know all too well that preventing a food safety failure means enforcing proactive plans backed by stable documentation processes. Today, digitization is an integral part of that equation. A prevention-centered and proof-based management software enables your team to foster transparency and visibility across the plant, easily control document administration and accessibility, unify data between departments, eliminate redundancies and inefficiencies, facilitate the audit process and clearly demonstrate compliance with regulatory requirements.

The Supplier Supervision Conundrum

The practices utilized by your food suppliers and vendors have a profound effect on your own efforts to produce safe, high-quality foods, which makes supplier verification incredibly important. After all, it falls on your company to protect customers, meet government regulations and preserve the brand.

In terms of audit management, there is a tangible need to implement documentation procedures that ensure you’re properly overseeing suppliers. This is a substantial feat, especially if your supplier/vendor list is extensive. It is an immense undertaking to track every supplier’s specifications, registrations, audit documents and proof of hazard analysis and preventive controls. A sufficient collection of information includes:

Approved Supplier Data

  • Initiation dates
  • Primary contacts
  • Products
  • Hazards
  • HACCP plans
  • Verification methods
  • Certificates of analysis
  • Local, state and federal regulatory inspections
  • Recall histories
  • Returned goods policy

Proof of Suppliers’ Quality Systems

  • Organizational chart with job descriptions for all positions
  • Self-inspection programs
  • Incoming goods and trailer inspection programs
  • Raw material and finished product analyses
  • Outbound trailer inspections
  • Written cleaning procedures
  • Master sanitation schedule
  • Documented recall program
  • Written quarantine policy
  • Allergen control
  • Policy on how to manage rework
  • Water testing records
  • Procedures on the handling of regulatory audits
  • Customer complaint program
  • Safety committee
  • Training for both new and tenured employees in areas relevant to your product
  • Formal pest control program
  • Records of cooler and freezer temperatures (if applicable)
  • Preventive maintenance program

With a controlled and thorough process to regularly assess your food suppliers, you reap the benefit of greater visibility into potential food safety risks as well as strengthened audit preparation tactics. But, again, this is a massive documentation effort, made even more cumbersome and complex by manual approaches. Maximized accessibility, organization and completeness are far more attainable when you choose to automate the supplier verification and audit readiness process with food safety management software.

The Dilemma of Rapid-Response

There may be scenarios in which you have adequate time to prepare for an upcoming, scheduled audit. If you know about it in advance, it’s more feasible to gather the information you need. Even then, though, you’re pulling valuable resources away from regular operations in order to organize an abundance of documents, data points and accountabilities. And those are just the audits of which you have prior knowledge.

What happens when there are surprise audit requests, either from government regulators or clients? If you’re caught off guard and rendered unprepared for such an event, you’re likely to face significant disruptions and you may even fail to deliver the proper food safety information as required.

In the end, food safety audit readiness comes down to consistently maintaining a high level of control, detection and visibility in every corner of the plant. The key is focusing on proactive recordkeeping and document management to make sure your food safety program is always up to standards. Doing so makes audit preparation a quick and painless task. This is the critical role that food safety management software plays in keeping your facility audit-ready at all times.

An automated solution allows you and your team to:

  • Quickly identify locations and patterns within your food safety plan
  • Set up instant, real-time notifications and alerts
  • Systematize the scheduling of preventative controls and testing
  • Easily access all sampling data, testing results and corrective action records
  • Verify performance
  • Produce intricate audit trails
  • Make informed decisions about corrective and preventive actions
  • Generate industry-standard and customized reports

Accessing, framing, formatting and producing food safety information is fast and hassle-free when you’re equipped with a smart, cloud-based, industry-centered management software. You don’t have to panic or drain your production resources even in the event of an unannounced audit. All of the checkpoints and deliverables you need are at your fingertips, stored in one centralized database and accessible in a short amount of time. This is the only way to overcome the seemingly insurmountable dilemma of rapid response.

Maybe you’ve been introduced to the idea of food safety management software but didn’t fully understand the range of support and value it can engender within your own audit preparation processes. It is truly the way to stop the “hamster wheel” of food safety and audit management methods that upend your production goals. Never has it been more important to continuously seek productive and efficient ways of optimizing your food safety outcomes, and a dynamic management solution is an essential part of the mix.

As you move forward, you can immediately simplify the audit preparation process by leveraging a comprehensive checklist developed by food safety experts. Access your free tool instantly.

Feeling the Relentless Sting of Audit Preparation?

Access this systematic checklist to expedite audit management and gain control.

Download Your Free Tool

About Mike Koeris

Dr. Koeris is co-founder of Sample6/Corvium and BiotechStart.org, a non-profit in the Biotech / Lifesciences arena. Michael specializes in development and innovation within biotechnology, startups, venture capital, technology transfer, management consulting, and is an avid basketball fan and master of the pick 'n roll.