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Must-Have Features of Compliance-Approved Food Safety Software
David Hatch

By: David Hatch on March 13th, 2019

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Must-Have Features of Compliance-Approved Food Safety Software

Food Safety Software

In the world of food manufacturing, food safety isn’t just another category of responsibility; it’s a fundamental mindset. Driven by the critical nature of compliance and the high stakes associated with experiencing a single food safety incident, manufacturers are becoming increasingly motivated to embrace this mindset and adopt smart technology solutions that support it fully. As you look to identify and integrate software that addresses complex food safety needs, do you have a clear understanding of what types of features offer the greatest potential for success?  

Making a food safety software decision requires an informed approach. Because, yes, there are a number of options that claim to provide the benefits you “need.” Unfortunately, not all of them are truly designed to mitigate noncompliance and food safety risk. Not all of them take automation and data management to the necessary level of functionality. And not all of them deliver a platform for indispensable visibility, communication, and efficiency.

To help you recognize the elements that are most important for managing food safety and compliance effectively, we’re outlining the must-have features to pursue in any food safety and compliance software acquisition.

 

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Traditional Food Safety Software in Review

Data management and monitoring tools are critical to defining and taking action to correct areas of food safety and compliance risk. Food safety professionals focused on the myriad of components involved in producing safe, pathogen-free foods are likely to seek options that offer:

  • Basic features for food safety management and tracking

  • A workflow-based model

  • Support for HACCP process management

  • Audit-related capabilities

  • Corrective action functionality

And while there’s certainly reason to consider these elements, there are some problematic gaps in traditional food safety software options. The shifting safety and compliance landscape, the rising costs of recalls, the increasing complexity of supply chain and production processes, the ever-present challenge of juggling contamination prevention AND productivity – these realities all require a more robust, next-level approach. That means opting for intelligent software with dynamic features that far exceed the advantages of traditional solutions.

 

Next-Level Features for Food Safety Compliance Software

To bring some greater clarity to the table, here are five must-have properties of a food safety software solution that supports the highest level of risk reduction and compliance.

  1. Facility assessments with floor plans and test point markers: Easily identifiable test points on your plant’s floor plan enable you to assess the state of your facility at a glance. These visual tools improve communication and compliance throughout your organization.

  2. Scheduling that produces environmental testing randomization: Are you able to generate schedules that effectively support your company's environmental testing plan? You need robust randomization functionality to ensure optimal coverage, as well as the ability to save individual scenarios to make recurring schedules effortless.

  3. Aggregated test data: With all of your testing data aggregated in one spot, you can quickly filter and print audit information and extract necessary reporting details.

  4. Workflows with automatic notifications for corrective action: You should be able to set up workflows and automatically notify stakeholders according to your internal policies. Consider the value in a solution that records and time-stamps each step as the corrective action moves toward completion.

  5. Data-based health and performance reporting: Powerful visualization and reporting dashboards can give you an instant snapshot of the health and performance of your production sites. This type of dynamic reporting equips you to uncover trends and hotspots across all of your plants to inform how you optimize your food safety program.

These software components are aimed exclusively at reducing the risk and costs involved in time-consuming, repetitive, error-prone tasks, as well as enabling you to see things you previously couldn’t, helping you elevate your plants’ performance and gaining the peace of mind that if something’s there, you’ll find it.

 

Value-Driven Outcomes of High-Quality Food Safety Software

If the necessity for these types of features seems strictly theoretical to you, consider how this level of functionality in a food safety and compliance software can bring tangible value to your compliance practices and facilitate a real sense of control over your risk-reduction efforts. A compliance-approved food safety software that focuses on these next-level features empowers you, your team and your organization at large to activate unprecedented food quality and safety outcomes like:

 

Breaking Down Silos

The functionality of your food safety software impacts your company’s ability to maintain solid and current food safety and quality data, as well as access that data quickly and use it to improve manufacturing conditions. Dynamic features enable you to access and recover your data without any restrictions (from a central, secure repository), combine food safety test results from multiple sites to obtain a complete picture of your food safety risk, conduct discovery activities that interact with your data set in real time, and investigate trends and outlier results to immediately take action before problems cause shutdowns, poor audit results or recalls. High-quality, compliance-focused food safety software supports your ability to break down both digital and analog silos by making data visible and accessible across your organization.

 

Creating a Culture of Accountability

Utilizing a system that enables you to be transparent can breed accountability by supporting fluent communication between departments and providing visibility to all teams. Truly effective food safety software appoints stakeholder responsibility to everyone involved by putting data access as well as powerful prevention and corrective action control at their fingertips. After all, no person or team can be an effective part of the food safety solution if data and insights are confined to a desktop. As well as in the hands of corporate leaders, information access needs to be on the plant floor, in the hands of the people who make critical food safety decisions every day.

 

Expediting Response Time

Food safety prevention requires a fast response to detected issues. Slow and/or manual data transfer between testing providers and your team can be a great source of data loss and allow for the introduction of errors that lead you down false paths. That’s why it’s important to leverage a solution with the capabilities to manage all of your data collection and management needs as well as relay alerts and notifications with unfaltering immediacy.

 

Curtailing Wasted Time and Energy

A coordinated food safety program requires an extensive amount of data collection, documentation and reporting. When managed via long-winded processes, you’re expending unnecessary manpower and costs. Quality food safety software empowers you to aggregate, analyze and access information in a streamlined way, particularly with regard to the audit process. You can heavily reduce the time and effort used to prepare for an audit or to conduct other monitoring and compliance activities.

 

Safeguarding the Brand

You can’t prevent food safety incidents unless you’re armed with the data and insights to see them coming or react instantly when they emerge. The sooner and more proactively your organization can identify food safety non-compliances, the more effectively you can prevent full-blown recalls. By employing food safety software that lessens the risk and occurrence of food recalls, you protect your brand and nurture consumer trust.

 

Does Your Solution Make the Cut?

Simply put, a QMS or ERP is not a comprehensive food safety solution. It does not afford you all of the necessary compliance and risk-reduction features to overcome the gamut of challenges present in your manufacturing facility or multi-site organization. At the end of the day, you need to be able to control your data and your environment in order to control your risk.

That means getting the data you need to ensure compliance with FDA, USDA, CFIA, and internal policies without interfering silos or laborious report-creation tasks. It means automating your test scheduling workflow and assigning the right corrective actions every time, without relying on error-prone methods or time-consuming data entry. It means keeping all parties informed of food safety performance, risk and mitigation efforts with on-demand information. And it means enabling food safety information to be aggregated and funneled from the
manufacturing floor to all corporate stakeholders.

If you find a software solution that gives you this kind of control, you’ve got exactly what you need to meet today’s food safety obligations and support the ever-critical mindset that protects your company from a magnitude of risk.

For more detailed information about leading-edge food safety software that improves operational efficiency and minimizes compliance risk, download your free guide now.

How Do You Reduce the Risk of Noncompliance?

Discover the food safety software you need right now.

Get My Free Guide

About David Hatch

Dave Hatch has spent over 30 years solving data management, information security and analytics challenges across multiple industries, including food/beverage, healthcare, publishing, manufacturing and financial services. As Chief Strategy Officer at Corvium, Dave focuses on the emerging digital transformation occurring in the food industry, and its impact on the advancement of food safety programs across the food supply chain.