Using technology as your due diligence defence

By Linda Jackson on 02 August 2017

Chatting recently to a retail supplier highlighted the importance of doing the right things – for your own business sake. It only takes one slip to cause a food safety problem and your ability to show you’ve done everything within your power to be safe may be your only defence. Although there is a lot of contention about the cost of implementing and maintaining a food safety management system, being diligent in the first place can prevent nearly all food safety issues from ever happening which is a much better situation to be in!


Having controls in place should be less about the audit score and more about the integrity of YOUR business. Using technology can be a cost-effective solution to ensuring you have all the right records to be able to manage more effectively and prove due diligence.


1. Make a big deal of the big deal issues

It is your business and your pride and joy! Which is why you should know what the issues are that have the greatest impact on the safety and quality of your product. Those are the issues you should be managing diligently. You shouldn’t need me as an auditor to highlight these things to you. Work on the 80/20 principle – it’s the 20% of really critical issues that will cause 80% of your problems – don’t compromise on those issues – for the sake of your business.


Invest in technology to assist you with these critical issues such as temperature measurement, which has a marked impact on food safety and the quality of most food products.


2. Set realistic food safety standards

Many food safety management systems that I have seen are simply too complicated to maintain. While engaging with a consultant can be helpful, abdicating the system to a consultant doesn’t mean you will be able to manage the system afterwards. You must understand it and be able to improve it. Rather take baby steps than trying to be too ambitious. After all, you have to do what you say you do.


Write realistic procedures and then put them into practice – every day. What if you could include the procedure and checks required for receiving on a tablet that is used to record the receipt of goods so the operator can always access the procedure while doing the checks – all at the same time?


3. Record – check – record

Are you checking your records regularly enough to know whether your standards are being kept? On audits, I have identified areas that have been out of control for weeks yet no management action is apparent. You measure to be able to manage, so manage. How can you manage effectively and by exception?


Once again, technology can effectively assist you by automated recording and exception reporting on a variety of interfaces. Some systems allow communication to be set up to alert you of nonconformances no matter where in the world you are. Why not use this as your personal assistant?



Access to your temperature records, anywhere, anytime.  Making technology work for you. More


4. The truth, the whole truth

Make sure your records are accurate and not falsified. Check – were:

  • All the records entered at the same time?
  • The members of staff who signed on site at the time?
  • Items marked as completed or clean that don’t exist or weren’t there?
  • What about public holidays and weekends?

Tick infested checklists are useless information and very susceptible to falsification. Make sure you come down hard on guilty parties.


Technology can assist you with built in security protocols, password access and audit trails which can provide the data integrity you need to circumvent challenges with paper systems and that’s before we talk about filing! Reports are available in a few simple clicks rather than weeks of number crunching making your management review a process that can really add value to the bottom line.


5. Training

If your staff aren’t trained in what they should be doing, how can they be expected to do it? Staff need to be given training that’s relevant to their job – that’s what the law says! If you aren’t training them how are they figuring it out? Leaving food safety to their discretion can be a risk to your business. Fortunately, technological interfaces are becoming more and more user friendly and hardware more and more robust to environmental conditions. If anyone can use a smart phone, anyone can use technology in their job functions for food safety monitoring.


From temperature monitoring to water measurements to full traceability, there are solutions out there to make all aspects of compliance more efficient and effective. You should at least take the time to investigate, it will be a surprising and worthwhile exercise.