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Data digitalisation is becoming a vital part of our food safety world. It seems inevitable. Companies in the modern food chain are rushing in head first.

It’s worth pausing to demystify the digital buzz, though. CEOs are pushing forward with digital agendas for highly qualified quality and operational managers with years of food safety expertise. But, those managers are usually inexperienced when it comes to digital development.

Thanks to innovative data technologies, we have a wealth of valuable information at our fingertips. The ultimate goal is to simplify and improve the digital processes of facts and figures, but how is it best approached?

The Value of Live Data

The advantages of real-time information are numerous.

Good record keeping is a crucial part of successful HACCP systems. Currently, much of this monitoring relies on pen-and-paper checklists and lists of activities for staff to undertake at certain times of day. These are in turn entered into computers or filed for future inspection. Essentially, it’s time consuming, drags productivity and doesn’t provide a real-time view for managers about what is happening. Issues encountered over the course of the week, month or year are addressed in retrospect.

Digitising HACCP checks means that there is a time-stamped, tamper-proof record of who carried out the check, and when it was done, helping to reassure managers that the highest standards of quality are being met.

Spotting Patterns

Another advantage of having access to live data, particularly when using automated monitoring sensors, is that it can also give vital early warnings of problems before they turn into major issues. Taking continuously updated real-time readings shows when temperatures are moving up (or down) towards dangerous levels, alerting staff to take corrective action before quality or compliance is affected.

Monitoring starts safeguarding, preventing what could go wrong and stopping it from happening. When temperatures are only monitored once or twice a day, there’s no record of what is happening on a continual basis. Patterns and preemptive actions are missed.

Instead of sifting through binder-filled audit logs, food safety software captures and stores data in a structured format; making it easy to search and analyse. Why waste hours at the end of every week or month sifting through binders full of paper, when software enables you to generate insights so quickly?

The reasons to start a digital path are numerous. Companies are increasingly looking to digitise HACCP, replacing pen and paper with interactive handheld devices, automated wireless sensors and software that tell staff when and where to carry out checks.

Starting the Digital Path

Where do we begin gathering data in the context of food safety? How can we make things easier to manage and more transparent in this complex world of mass data collection?

When it comes to progressing from outdated working methods to completely embracing innovative digital technology, many food operators talk the talk but few go all-in and do it completely.

It’s tempting to look for simple definitions, but to be meaningful and sustainable, I believe that “going digital” should be seen less as a thing and more as a way of doing things.

At Diversey, we believe that the first step is to clearly define the scope of the digitalisation project.

In a retail environment for example:

  • Will all the stores be involved, or only specific types of stores?
  • Is the scope limited to food safety procedures, or are other quality-related checks needed (traceability information, nutritional data, lab data, etc.)?
  • Is the project limited to a single link in the chain, or are multiple operators involved?

If a farm to fork approach is needed, joint digital platforms may already exist. Blockchain, for instance, can provide an open traceability ledger for all the participating parties in a supply chain. Pooling data, with every process action stored and validated, ensures no individual participant can misleadingly alter the information.

Another important element to consider is the data type. There are three major types of data to inventory:

  • Measuring data (possibly linked to data loggers)
  • Documentary checks
  • Visual checks

Measuring data, for instance, can be ambient and/or core temperature, PH, the polar fraction of cooked oil, etc. It’s also vital to define hardware components and their ability to exchange data with measuring equipment. Is a bar code scanner functionality needed? Is the ability to take photos required? Are automatic email-alerts needed?

The sky is the limit within technology but be aware that this all adds to the complexity and will effect costs, maintenance and upkeep.

Making Food Safety Child’s Play

Diversey had the privilege to create and roll out a tailor-made app for Mc Donald’s.

The purpose was to disentangle food safety processes and to improve the execution of the daily food safety tasks for restaurant personnel–Done “in time” and with the “if necessary” appropriate corrective actions.

I’m not going to tell you cheap stories: we have encountered some child diseases. But in the end, we managed them and now it’s ready to be rolled out to many other countries. Our Digital team is immensely proud of the end result.

But looking back at this exciting and challenging project, the biggest advantage of going digital was the fact that it makes HACCP and implementing sometimes boring and complex food safety tasks so simple, that it became fun.

This truly mirrored the ‘People, Product, Process and Control’ vision for Diversey Food Safety: Simplifying processes and making life easier for our customers improves food safety engagement. And why not make it pleasant along the way.

Discover More at the GFSI Conference in Nice

In the same vision as the GFSI, Diversey is paving the way for better and transparent food safety standards.  With our participation as diamond sponsor at the GFSI Conference 2019, we have the unique opportunity to inform the food safety community about our smart food management solutions. GFSI is a great facilitator to bring new technologies and modern findings regarding food safety to a broad high level public.

Find out more about our digital food safety insights in our special session at the GSFI Conference 2019 on Wednesday 27thFebruary at 8.15am. Hope to see you there!

 


 

This post was written and contributed by:

 

Marleen Daenen
Doctor in Veterinary Medicine, Communications and Portfolio Manager
Diversey Consulting Europe

 

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