Demonstrating due diligence: advantages of the modern method
This is the last post in our series on ‘Why Food Safety Records Matter‘. So far, we’ve looked at who’s responsible for food safety in businesses, what food safety records are required by law, how UK food safety law operates and how businesses can demonstrate ‘due diligence’.
In the most recent addition, we also discussed the problem with traditional, pen and paper record keeping. Today, we’re examining the modern approach to food safety and how technology is helping to improve both accuracy and efficiency.
New technology, which links wireless sensors, temperature probes and data loggers together with software designed to manage the collection, display and secure storage of food safety data, is now available to the food industry.
In contrast to the deficiencies highlighted in paper-based records, there are numerous advantages to the use of secure and reliable instrumental methods of data capture and digitized data storage.
- Programmable alarms, automatically triggered by late or missing readings, can prompt corrective management action and secure the integrity of the records as a whole.
- Data integrity can be protected because there will be no method for anyone to falsify any data entry at or after any data read-point in time.
- Data can be made unchangeable and secure once recorded. Tamper-evidence can be built in to recorded data after the initial event, and attempted data interference can be identified and alarmed with separate management reporting systems.
- The ‘Continuity of Evidence’ test can be met by preassigned operator PIN identification at the start of all readings and throughout the reading procedure.
- In-built calibration and verification systems can confirm the credibility of every reading, with fixed date and time data records.
- Servicing and verification schedules can be preprogrammed and alarmed, and can be made incapable of being amended post-installation.
- Battery viability checks can be continuous and replacements can be well within the period of battery life.
- The labour-time cost of each reading can be significantly lower than the equivalent manual systems, making it more feasible to include proper checks in the work schedule.
Furthermore, when connected to the internet and cloudbased data storage, a digital food safety monitoring system can offer further advantages:
- Data from multiple sites that are geographically separate can be easily collated and viewed centrally from one location.
- All data can be accessed remotely from any location and viewed in real time, encouraging a more proactive approach to risk management.
- By replacing regular site visits, remote multi-site monitoring can further reduce the labour-time cost of managers supervising food safety.
- Cloud back-up can provide secure off-site storage of food safety records and effectively infinite data storage capacity.
Beyond these advantages when it comes to proving due diligence, a digital system offers the additional benefit of making detailed data on the timing and extent of staff actions, as well as the status of stock and infrastructure, available for analysis, aiding the process optimization and other business objectives.