- December 22, 2018
- Posted by: Sage Shield Safety Consultants
- Category: Overseas Occupational Health And Safety News
The culture of food safety is strong and intensely positive in food manufacturing – seemingly more so than in other areas of the food industry. There’s great sensitivity to avoiding allergens, bacteria, and various other potential pathogens, which is critically important when manufacturing safer foods. Manufacturers are very motivated to avoid recalls – the cost of recalls is far greater for manufacturers than other food business sectors, like restaurants. In addition, particularly in meat and dairy processing, the regulatory apparatus can be present on a daily basis. That constant pressure results in a culture that values and prioritizes food safety.
While the food safety culture is strong in most food manufacturing businesses, these companies are still wrestling with the idea of adopting technical and digital solutions that could help elevate food safety throughout the supply chain. The newest, most innovative tools have not yet penetrated manufacturing specifically – or the food industry in general.
The challenge for overhauling food safety in manufacturing is the entrenched belief that all things need to integrate with ancient ERP systems. The reality is that food safety runs quite independently in most manufacturing organizations. After all, food safety is based on internal auditing, and food manufacturers are (for the most part) committed to ensuring compliance.
But technology could help manufacturers – and the foods they manage – become even safer. Having a strong, positive food safety culture – as so many manufacturers do – is an important and significant first step. The next critical step is to elevate their systems that they currently run on paper. Digital tools will help these businesses do an even better, safer, more accurate and efficient job with their food safety processes.
There are flaws with safety systems that rely largely on paper and pencils. Most notably, it’s impossible to integrate and analyze critical data when using paper. It can be challenging – in the event of a security breach or possible recall – to locate specific paper records from file cabinets, cardboard boxes or stacks of paperwork in somebody’s office. And the incidents of “pencil whipping,” or cheating on inspections, is prevalent within the food industry, as much as we all want to believe that’s not true.
Of course, paper systems don’t integrate with ERP technology, but there is a deep belief within the food manufacturing industry that any new technologies should assimilate with this system. This makes the procurement of lower cost, highly efficient point solutions more complicated and expensive. Therefore, this reduces adoptions. And, as a result, companies continue to rely on antiquated, outdated, inefficient and inaccurate paper systems around something as critically important as food safety.
What’s the solution? Food manufacturers need to recognize how technology can help boost their food safety initiatives, protocols and even improve their food safety culture. They need to embrace and adopt technologies to help them do their jobs better, more accurately and more safely. It’s possible to acquire specialized food manufacturing technologies that rapidly leapfrog existing systems.
All food businesses should diligently, collaboratively and consistently protect the safety of our foods, and should take the following steps to do so:
Food safety in manufacturing involves detailed inspections coupled with well executed corrective actions that are mandated and completed. Software makes it much easier to follow through on the CAPA requirements and makes the actual inspection process decidedly faster, more efficient, more accurate and safer. Manufacturers – along with everyone else within the food industry – must take food safety seriously, and evolve accordingly, using every tool at our disposal to keep our foods (and our businesses) safer and healthier.
The author is co-founder of CoInspect which provides software that powers food safety, quality assurance, and standards management for restaurants and food manufacturers. For more information, visit www.coinspectapp.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.