3 Reasons Food Safety Software Makes Audits Easier
The very thought of a food safety audit is enough to make a plant manager shudder. It’s often a dreaded ordeal requiring lots of time and effort. Plus, there’s the stress of making sure your audit successfully reflects all the work you’ve done to prevent contamination in the plant. But there’s no getting around audits, and with new FSMA rules being implemented, you should prepare to deal with them much more frequently.
But here’s the silver lining -- you CAN significantly reduce the hours and headaches that go into preparing for an audit and increase your success rate. But, to do this seemlessly, you must take advantage of a well-matched software tool.
Here are three prime reasons why food safety software can make your audit process significantly easier.
REASON #1: It contributes to your FSMA compliance.
Since the Food Safety Modernization Act rolled out, food audit standards have changed. They are more rigorous and frequent than ever before. Your plant must have the proper systems in place to meet greater requirements for documentation, implementation and validation. From single-day to multi-day inspections, FSMA is raising the bar on food safety assessments, and this will affect your plant’s ability to keep pace. The audit preparations and practices you’ve been applying for years may no longer be sufficient for this new wave of compliance.
As the FDA states, “The FSMA establishes a mandated inspection frequency, based on risk, for food facilities and requires the frequency of inspection to increase immediately. All high-risk domestic facilities must be inspected within five years of enactment and no less than every three years thereafter. Within one year of enactment, the law directs FDA to inspect at least 600 foreign facilities and double those inspections every year for the next five years...FDA will have access to records,including industry food safety plans and the records firms will be required to keep documenting implementation of their plans.”
It’s time to modernize and reap the many rewards of employing food safety software so that the next time your plant goes through an FDA audit, you’ll be equipped with everything you need. With all of your records digitally stored and available in one centralized database, you’ll have quick, easy access to:
- Your food safety plan
- HACCP/HARPC documentation
- Routine testing results
- Investigative testing results
- Corrective action reports
All of the documentation your teams need to verify that they are in full compliance with FSMA requirements can be prepared in less than 24 hours and without the overwhelming burden of stress you may have felt in the past.
REASON #2: It provides visibility, accountability and communication throughout the plant and corporate organization.
Because your food manufacturing plant is such a complex operation with many moving parts, it’s vital to enable fluent communication between departments and provide visibility to all teams and stakeholders. The strength of this visibility and communication impacts the plant’s capacity to undergo food safety audits seamlessly - it’a positive accountability.
“Audits are a crucial component of maintaining food safety standards and certification, by providing transparency and assurance that standards are being maintained. This transparency increases the collaborative capacity of stakeholders across the supply chain, and enhances safety, efficiency and continual improvement within individual organizations.” (Global Food Safety Resource)
This is where food safety software shines. For example, Sample6’s CONTROL software enables you to:
- Visualize the plant with a color-coded floorplan, individual pictures and powerful reporting tools
- Schedule, monitor and report on your environmental programs
- Rapidly communicate results and actions to your entire team
“For an environmental monitoring program to be effective, communication is critical,” says Jim Hammel, Sample6’s Vice President of Customer Success. “The members of the quality team need to know what specific tasks are expected of each of them and when. Sanitation workers need to know what areas require their timely response. Executives need visibility into the results and actions underway so that they can support their teams and make critical food safety decisions. While these tasks can be completed manually, it is ripe for automation and new tools are streamlining the communication process.”
REASON #3: It facilitates the delivery of mandatory audit documentation and puts reporting at your fingertips.
Unfortunately, the majority of food processing plants are not properly prepared for a food safety audit. Why? One major component is the reality that everyone is busy carrying out their jobs, so there’s little time to handle tedious audit preparation tasks like gathering documentation and organizing or formatting reports.
The responsibility of plant operations often takes precedence over time-intensive auditing needs. But does it really come down to one or the other? Can’t the two priorities both be handled efficiently? Absolutely, when you employ the right food safety software.
“While food and beverage processors need to deliver food-safe products to their customers, they’re also feeling the need to get these products out the door more efficiently while maintaining high quality. These needs don’t have to work against each other. But, if you’re still using antiquated manual methods to keep track of your suppliers and ingredients plus your customers and distributors while trying to monitor quality and produce a safe product, it’s time to automate -- before you lose your mind and potentially your business to a recall caused by an ‘accident’ or ‘problem’ you overlooked. Software tools can efficiently help manage documents and records to meet FSMA/USDA demands, monitor traceability and recalls, provide corrective and preventive action (CAPA) and handle food safety audit management, ensuring high-quality standards.” (Food Engineering)
There’s no getting around the fact that you have to provide audit-related data, including the history of test points, results and the corrective actions applied to remediate those problems. Having the requisite documentation on hand is vital. Still, you can make the process much quicker and way less painful. With the right food safety software, there’s no more waiting around for someone to piece together a report from data in a spreadsheet. You can automate reports to run weekly, monthly, etc., and send data to the people who need to know.
In the end, audits are all about ensuring a safe product for consumers. Get smarter about your efforts by implementing the right software, and be sure to download your free checklist on identifying and proactively thwarting contamination in your plant: How To Find & Prevent Contamination in Food Processing Plants.