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It wasn’t so long ago that the standard for the industry was paper binders. Today, the range and quality of technology solutions is wide enough that most people don’t know what to look for, or what makes one software solution stand out in comparison to another. So what makes the difference when it comes to food safety technology?
#1: Does the Food Safety Software Automatically Generate HACCP Plans?
Today’s demands from both regulators and retailers means that food businesses must have a comprehensive HACCP plan in place. But there’s a big difference between a solution that helps you store and organize documents and one that actually generates a food safety plan. Most software solutions do the former; they chuck out the paper binders and set you up in a secure, accessible cloud environment. This is great, but is it enough?
The answer is no. A food safety software solution should do more than manage documents. A good system will allow you to build your HACCP plan in a way that reflects your actual business processes. One way to tell if the software is up to the task is to ask: are hazards and hazard controls attached to ingredients, products, packaging, etc. or are they attached to the HACCP plan itself? If the latter, the solution is merely digitizing those dusty binders. If the former, your HACCP plan will do much more than just tick boxes for inspectors, but actually be able to automate food safety. You will have the flexibility to mix and match products in different HACCP plans, and if any changes to your products come down the road, you won’t need to start from scratch.
#2: How Quickly Can We Get Set Up?
What differentiates a good solution from a great automation solution is how the software leverages intelligent technologies to save you time and money. If you have identical or nearly identical products, do you have to control the same hazards over and over? Or is the system smart enough to be able to reuse the work you’ve already done?
The same goes for the actual building of the HACCP plan itself. A great automation system will go further to use predictive algorithms that give you smart suggestions through data mining technology. This type of feature can save you a ton of time by suggesting the appropriate biological, chemical, physical, and radiological hazards according to the data provided instead of making you search through hundreds of hazards online and do the research from square one.
#3: Will the Software Take Me Beyond Food Safety?
While automation makes things easier and faster in the long-term, you have spent some time getting set up. So what else can your food safety software do for you?
The big ticket item here is traceability. You already have your ingredients, products, packaging and so on in your system, so it’s important that the software you choose should be able to track everything through an increasingly complex global supply chain. It is crucial that a problem in your production processes — or the processes of a supplier — be identified and isolated as soon as possible to minimize the scale of a recall.
There’s even more to consider: vendor management, inventory control, shipping, billing, and more can all be included so you only need one system for your food production operations. In addition, think of the certifications that you already have or aim toward to grow your market. Does this software support allergen control so you can guarantee that your products are allergen-free? What about organic, kosher, halal, and other types of external certifications?
Food safety software can do a lot for you, but make sure you’re getting the most for your investment. Not all high-level solutions are out of reach for small and mid-sized companies either, so with a commitment to food safety and the right questions, you can make the change for the better.
Check out a version of this article on Global Food Safety Resource >>>
Image credit: Advanced System Concepts