Setting up your HACCP food safety plan? Learn how food safety solutions provide food-based businesses a safe way to store and interpret data.
In 2015, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) began enforcing the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), a law to improve food safety in the United States. A major part of this law is the requirement for all food-based businesses to create and enforce HACCP procedures. These measures evaluate hazards, identify control points where failures may happen, and institute preventative measures to reduce the risk of foodborne illnesses and other outbreaks.
Creating Your HACCP Plan
Developing a food safety HACCP plan for your business can seem overwhelming, especially when you read directives like this from the Food and Drug Administration’s website:
A HACCP plan need only have as many CCPs as the processor deems necessary to control the hazards that are reasonably likely to occur as identified in the hazard analysis for that product.
If you have limited food safety experience, this can be quite confusing!
Let’s be honest: you want your restaurant to be successful, and keeping the food you sell safe and your customers happy (and not making them sick) is important to you. You also want to comply with the law, and not deal with the headache of non-compliance and the associated penalties.
How Food Safety Solutions Help Manage HACCP Protocol
If you are starting at square one, the FDA and other food safety organizations provide resources on how to create an HACCP protocol for your business. Here are some key tenants of a HACCP plan, and how food safety solutions can help.
1) Establishing Critical Control Points
The first question asked when a foodborne outbreak happens: “Where did things go wrong?” Critical control points (CCP) are the instances that owners revisit when investigating a food safety incident to determine how the food was contaminated. Typically, CCPs occur when the food is handled, transported, stored, and/or prepared.
Food safety solutions can monitor and track your inventory at each of these points to ensure the food is safe.
Here’s how it works: an Internet of Things device (also known as an IoT device) works with food safety software to capture important time and temperature data of food from when it leaves the supplier to its point of purchase.
In real-time, your food safety system can help you gather, access, filter, and analyze this data to track the adherence to the HACCP plan you have established for your business; and it will let you know when steps have been missed that could potentially cause food to spoil.
2) Corrective Measures and Accountability
Food safety solutions help owners regulate these critical control points by alerting employees of unfinished tasks like temperature checks, and notifies managers when procedures are not followed according to plan.
For example, this technology can come fully equipped with HACCP checklists that remind workers to complete food safety tasks like checking the temperature of produce. When this doesn’t happen, management is alerted immediately to ensure corrective action happens in real-time, catching potential mistakes before they occur.
Food safety software can also help identify the employees that need help fulfilling food safety protocol promptly. Food safety solutions provide an audit trail that gives management a detailed, automated account of who completed what action with a certified timestamp. This helps improve accountability across the board for both your employees and management team, and can help keep vendors in check.
3) Reliable Record Keeping
According to the new FSMA law, food-based businesses must have on file at least two years’ worth of documentation to show HACCP compliance.
Could you provide that much information easily now if the Feds came knocking? How about if a news reporter showed up to your restaurant asking about allegations that you caused the most recent food illness outbreak in your area; do you have proof to show otherwise?
Space can be an issue too. That’s a lot of filling cabinets!
Digital food safety solutions make it easy to gather, analyze, and store the critical data needed to prove your innocence. The FDA estimates that a foodborne outbreak may cost a business three years’ worth of earnings; a sobering reality that can get any owner’s attention. Having all of this information intact, accurate and secure in the cloud, is a major benefit to businesses.
The good news is that these HACCP guidelines are going to help keep the food you sell safe and give you the information you need should an issue arise. Whichever way you set up your HACCP plan, smart technology like IoT devices and food safety solutions can help you gather, manage, and store the required data so you can spend more time growing your business, not micromanaging it.