Food safety

HACCP consultant vs digital solution

When starting a food business, whether it is a cafe, restaurant, pub, canteen, bakery, food truck or shop, you will ...

When starting a food business, whether it is a cafe, restaurant, pub, canteen, bakery, food truck or shop, you will soon realise how many documents are required to show that your business is compliant with the health and safety standards. These are legal requirements and include a HACCP plan.

HACCP stands for Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point, and a HACCP plan based on these fundamental principles is required to ensure food safety during, and after, food production. Let us run through the different options required to comply with the law and discuss which options are the most cost-effective and efficient.

HACCP plan comparison. Paper vs digital

HACCP is mandatory

According to UK legislation, every food business requires a HACCP plan. It is in essence a food safety guide that is used to identify and evaluate any potential food safety hazards and ensure that food is safe for consumers. This is necessary to control or eliminate any potential hazards that may be present during the production process, and for all aspects of food safety.

Hazards may be biological, chemical, or physical. Following food safety standards offers customers a sense of security, which is especially important during these times of crisis. A HACCP plan is also required by the FSA, before starting your business. It will be reviewed periodically by a HACCP auditor and needs to be updated if there are any food-related changes in production or in the company.


How to get a HACCP plan?

Traditionally, a popular option is to hire a food safety consultant, food safety expert or food safety auditor to provide you with all the required documents, however, they can be expensive. There are many HACCP plan consultants in the market, like Techni-K, SGS, CaterSafe, FoodAlert, Surefoot Solutions, etc. Some of these companies provide electronic documents (word, excel, pdf). There are new, innovative food-safety solutions available that can help you to cut costs, save time, and support you after all your compliance documentation has been completed. FoodDocs is one of them! Let us compare traditional, paper-based solutions and innovative, digital HACCP plans.


Time: FoodDocs vs HACCP consultant: 1:0

Getting your HACCP from a food safety consultant takes approximately 3-4 weeks. There is a significant amount of work to do. A consultant will need to book a meeting with a client, visit the site and interview their client, too. Once they have collected all the necessary information, they will create a risk assessment, make decision trees, produce a plan of the premises, equipment, water, and sewerage, etc. All of these take time - to assess the information, formulate a plan, and create the necessary documents.

With a digital system, you can create your HACCP plan in 1 hour, by yourself, at any time that suits you. How is this even possible? A digital system only needs the information that you include in your profile to compose the final document. What kind of information is needed? It looks at specifics such as the type of business you have, the raw materials you use, the kind of food you sell, and the volume of goods produced. It also includes the set duties that you complete in your business activities.

FoodDocs’ software collects all the information and automatically creates all the necessary documents. FoodDocs generates complex documents like flow diagrams, hazards assessment, and monitoring sheets. The platform has built-in solutions to create different plans: waste plans, premises plans, and water & sewerage plans. They are easy to create with the built-in tool and your HACCP guide can be created simply by dragging all the necessary points and arrows on the plan. This makes a digital solution much faster to create than a traditional paper-based system.

Making changes to your plan: FoodDocs vs HACCP consultant: 2:0

A HACCP plan must be formulated according to your company’s current status. This means that you need to change your HACCP plan if you make any changes in your company that are related to food - menu changes, starting a food delivery service, starting a food donation program, or adding new high-risk raw materials. Your HACCP plan needs to reflect any changes that are made to your business.

If you use a paper-based system, you will need to hire a food safety specialist to apply the changes that have been made. They will go through the risk assessment and decide what control points are critical or not. This takes time and will generate additional costs.

In the digital HACCP system, you can make all the changes yourself. With two clicks, your system is up to date again. For example, if you want to start a food delivery, you simply log into your account, add the “food delivery” process to your business profile and confirm the amendments. The software will let you know if you have any new additional critical control points.

Another area of administration that uses paper records is the use of monitoring sheets. These are a record of tasks that need to be completed, every day, to ensure compliance with health and safety standards. Depending on your business profile, you will need to monitor and record different variables. The most challenging part of recording monitoring tasks is that they are easy to forget, especially when you have many employees and a lot of work to do, and you don’t employ a dedicated food safety manager to manage these tasks.

Furthermore, paper records require a lot of space to store and archive (yes, you need to store your records for at least 2 years!) and it can take a long time to search for a particular document when the dreaded food inspections happen.

The FoodDocs’ digital system has an App for monitoring. FoodDocs sends task reminders to you and your employees. The system helps you to stay on top of all tasks you are required to do, like when to hold HACCP training and food safety training. FoodDocs proactively helps you to manage monitoring tasks and store your records and monitoring sheets.


Cost of the service: FoodDocs vs HACCP consultant: 3:0

A paper-based HACCP plan, with all the required documentation, costs approximately £1000-£1500. A food safety consultant is a highly-skilled professional who will take a lot of time to create all the mandatory documentation. Some consultants may charge per hour if there is not a lot of work.

A digital HACCP plan with FoodDocs costs £140 monthly subscription, which includes also access to the dashboard, and digital monitoring. 

Helping you to cope with the fast pace of change: FoodDocs vs HACCP consultant: 3:1

Although digital solutions are a great option, they may seem too complicated, and you may not know how to change from paper to an updated system. The great news is that many food safety consultants can help food businesses implement digital solutions and even offer online HACCP training. It is great to see that both traditional HACCP plan consultants and digital systems can work together to achieve the same goal - to keep customers and food safe.



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