How many businesses do you know whose accountants are still drawing up company accounts on paper? None? Maybe just that one place, but aren’t they changing to a digital system as we speak? Food safety is going through the same process. Paper systems are history – they do not allow for transparency and do not contribute to ensuring food safety in your company. The evolution of food safety management systems is long overdue.
Different restaurants and food businesses have different requirements for their food safety solutions. However, these businesses all share a common goal: saving time.
With countless things to manage, running a food business is a difficult and challenging job. Every manager or owner needs to focus on what brings in revenue, so all other processes need to support the company’s main activity: selling food. One avenue of support is to ensure food safety in a fast and simple way – with the introduction of a food safety app or food safety management system. Now, more than ever, it is of vital importance that food establishments provide their customers with the highest level of safety.
What do you need from your digital food safety system?
Each company has different requirements, so different solutions will suit different business profiles. Since there are many digital food safety solutions on the market, we want to give you an overview of what to keep in mind before you purchase your new software. Here are some key points you should ask yourself when choosing the right food safety software for your business:
- Do you need a HACCP plan only?
- Would you benefit from better monitoring your employees?
- What do you want to change or achieve by switching to a digital solution?
A HACCP plan for starting food businesses
Every new food business needs to create a HACCP plan. A HACCP plan gives your business legal grounds to operate in the food industry. It ensures that everyone in your business follows the same standard and that your staff know what they are doing.
Creating a HACCP plan to ensure food safety management can be a lengthy and back-breaking process. Often, new business owners must choose between hiring a HACCP consultant to speed up the process or taking 1-2 months to create the HACCP plan themselves. Luckily, digital solutions exist that allow you to choose the most suitable HACCP system software for you.
There is Foodready, a food safety / HACCP software solution that is best suited for small producers focusing on specific product groups. Then, there is FoodDocs, a food safety management system ideal for businesses that need to get all their official documentation ready, quickly and seamlessly, before they open. FoodDocs offers a clear and smooth user experience for all new food businesses.
The digital HACCP plan is customizable, meaning that you can:
- Create any kind of monitoring sheet from scratch
- Use pre-set monitoring tasks and customize them according to your needs
- Make changes to your HACCP plan quickly and smoothly
As a starting food business, there is a high chance that you can’t foresee all the tasks you need to monitor and log on a daily basis. Having a digital and customizable HACCP plan enables you to change the HACCP plan as often as you need to, for example:
- when changing your menu,
- when adding a process,
- before delivering or donating food for the first time.
Furthermore, FoodDocs’ software uses a smart AI which makes FoodDocs smarter every day. As the software learns from its users’ data, it offers you pre-set rooms, equipment, and monitoring tasks based on your company’s profile – making it quicker and easier to get your HACCP system up and running from the beginning.
A food safety management system for established businesses
If you are already running your food business, you would be well aware that many daily food safety-related activities need to be monitored and logged. Quality managers, together with regional and area managers, spend enormous amounts of time on supervision and monitoring. Ensuring that their food is safe to eat is an important daily task for them all.
The more venues your business has, the higher the number of staff whose actions need to be monitored. Not to mention that employee turnover rates are high and new people need to be brought in and trained regularly. They all need to follow the same safety standards. This is where digital solutions save the day – and give managers back their time.
Making the transition to a digital food safety system requires firm decision-making and some additional resources. Management may be ready to leave the paper system behind, but sometimes employees are afraid of the big switch that could potentially create a big mess! A food safety app does not sound threatening, but having all your audit materials, monitoring sheets and employee training schedules stored in one place can feel like a big leap when you are used to a cozy paper folder.
Created with user-friendliness in mind, FoodDocs offers the chance to switch to a digital solution, step by step.
The digital monitoring benefits allow you to:
- Save managers’ time
- Save staff’s time
- Improve the food safety awareness of your employees
- Ensure that all employees work to the same standard
Smart food safety management systems hold the power to make your staff smarter.
How amazing is that?
Quality control for your entire franchise or chain
A food safety incident in a single venue can cause lasting damage to the entire franchise, with losses reaching billions. Strong control over franchisees is therefore crucial for franchises. This makes them more open to digital software solutions that can enable them to monitor their business partners 24/7. This includes, in particular, franchises that sell the right to use their trademark but wish to maintain control in order to ensure a high standard across all their units.
Food safety incidents are not just the problem of stand-alone restaurants – they happen in big franchises as well. In 2005, KFC was ordered to pay A$8 million to an Australian family for inflicting brain damage on their 7-year-old girl after she allegedly got salmonella poisoning from a KFC chicken wrap. Although KFC denied responsibility, the judge ruled differently. Imagine hearing that a Subway or Pizza Hut venue became the center of a salmonella outbreak. When or how quickly would you return?
Monitoring your employees is extremely important for that exact same reason. If a single person makes a mistake that causes a serious food safety incident, the entire franchise or chain suffers the damage. As soon as your chain has more than 5 venues, you need to start optimizing to keep control and ensure consistent quality. This is when the use of a food safety app is essential. If your chain has hundreds or tens of thousands of venues (like Starbucks, for example), strong and well-established audit systems can be used with monthly, quarterly, or annual audits to ensure consistent and high quality.
Food safety management systems like FoodDocs and FoodLogiQ are tools that are equally suited to restaurant chains and the franchise business model. FoodLogiQ is focused on traceability, making it more suitable for companies with large-scale production, while FoodDocs’ real-time dashboard is the perfect tool for food services and retail enterprises that want to see a real-time overview of their employees' activities. The user-friendly interface makes it very quick and convenient to use.
4 tips for choosing the right food safety software
There are things that can go wrong when choosing food safety software in a hurry. Some systems are tailored for specific sectors, like retail or large-scale production. Food safety is a highly specialized and multi-faceted field.
To ensure consistent quality in your business and to keep your customers coming back for more, it is worth looking further than shiny digital checklists that won’t be able to help you if something goes wrong or a product recall needs to happen.
Here are our 4 tips to consider when choosing the food safety software that bests suits your food business:
Don’t choose software that suits everyone
Checklists and types of audit software designed for a very wide audience are often not comprehensive enough for food businesses. Ensuring food safety is usually a very long and complex process and requires software built by industry experts and adapted specifically to food businesses.
2. Do you need software, hardware, or both?
Temperature sensors are now widespread in the food industry but their prices are still high and their reliability often questionable.
As with any piece of hardware, sensors and probes can break or get lost, their batteries can drain, the basements where they are used can have a poor connection, and so on. In addition, temperature sensors only cover a small part of the monitoring processes required to ensure food safety. FoodDocs’ software includes everything required, and you can opt for software that integrates with your hardware.
3. Necessary integration
Proper food safety software can be integrated with all the major sensor providers (Carel, Danfoss, etc.), so choose a food safety solution that can also be integrated with the other programs used in your company – MRPs, smart fridges, sensors, etc.
Having all your food safety information in one place will save you a lot of time. When it comes to integration, it is also important that the sensor information reaches the employees who need to perform the corrective actions - close the fridge door, reheat an ingredient or a food item, re-store the goods, etc. If the sensor information only reaches the technical department or the maintenance company, food safety and hygiene cannot be guaranteed.
Ensure that the info from the sensors runs directly to your kitchen staff’s devices so that they can react as quickly as possible. For example, FoodDocs’ system can be easily integrated with food safety temperature sensors, making all your food safety management information accessible from one dashboard which is then directly forwarded to you or your management’s dashboard.
4. Traceability! Is it necessary?
Most food safety software solutions include day-to-day monitoring tasks. However, if your company has a responsibility to ensure traceability, make certain that the software also comes with this functionality. In most cases, the food safety software either takes care of traceability or monitoring, but not both. It is time-consuming and just plain annoying to click between many programs when logging your daily food safety tasks.
In short: if you sell food that has an expiration date longer than 24 hours, you are legally obliged to ensure traceability. If a product is recalled, you need to know where your food came from and where it went.
To sum up, here is a quick overview of the different food safety management systems:
Happy software hunting!