Most consumers trust that food producers and restaurants handle their ingredients safely. Unfortunately, millions of people deal with foodborne illnesses every year. For the food industry, every incident traced to poor food handling procedures could result in lawsuits, financial losses, and reduced consumer confidence. Several oversight organizations have created food safety guidelines that provide standards for every step in food production and distribution. Respective food safety agencies like the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) are responsible for ensuring the that commercial supply of meat, poultry, and processed egg products are exported to other countries (or moved within interstate commerce) in a safe and secure manner, as well as correctly labeled and packaged. The ISO 22000 international standard specifies that an FSMS requires interactive communication, prerequisite programs, system management, and HACCP principles to comply with food quality and safety regulations.

There is also the former British Retail Consortium, which uses the Brand Reputation Compliance Global Standards (BRCGS), and the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) to ensure food quality and safety concerning building safe, legal, and high-quality food product/brand reputation and communication.

With all of these food quality and safety laws, standards, and regulations that food product producers, like importers/exporters or restaurant owners, need to remember and follow, implementing a solution to ensure that you maintain compliance through every production stage is crucial!

With a Food Safety Management System (FSMS), custom-tailored to one’s specific location and/or what type of food service is provided, business owners can establish consistent practices and maintain their food safety certifications with ease.

Although this makes perfect sense idealistically, some business owners may argue that choosing an off-the-shelf FSMS solution, like FoodDocs or Tulip, would better suit them. However true this may be for some business owners, nothing beats a solution that is custom-tailored to their unique business needs.

In this article, you’ll gain a clearer understanding as to why and how building a custom FSMS ensures food quality and safety compliance is the better choice for businesses that require simplified food safety compliance solutions without breaking the bank.

4 Essential Components of a Food Safety Management System

An FSMS is part of a comprehensive plan to maintain food safety. It covers various supply issues such as the transportation, storage, and turnover of ingredients. This type of software also examines personnel issues like proper dress attire and personal hygiene around the food preparation, handling, manufacturing, and distribution process.

In a modern food production facility, food safety software development empowers every aspect of an FSMS. Here, we’re going to take a closer look at the 4 essential components that incorporate the overall structure of an FSMS solution.

1.     Hazard Analysis & Critical Control Points (HACCP)

A Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) plan is an in-depth examination of everything that can go wrong during food production and distribution. Depending on the product, the manufacturer will need to keep track of storage temperatures and expiration dates.

Employees of a food production and distribution facility are required to fill out checklists confirming that they have gloves and other protective gear before reporting to their stations.

Transportation records are also kept, providing an accurate account of the time between food product pick-ups and delivery. Overall, this creates a collection of comparative data that can help make improvements and changes towards a more efficient and reliable enterprise.

2.     Traceability & Recall Management

Problems within the food supply chain are not always the manufacturer’s fault. If a supplier sends a bad batch, the manufacturer must immediately identify it within the facility and determine if it has been used in production.

After this, all compromised products must be pulled from distribution. However, if they have already gone out to retailers, the company must issue a recall. With a custom FSMS, this can be avoided even before a consumer purchases a bad product.

3.     Single Source Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)

An Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system is a tool that many companies utilize to streamline just about every facet of their business operations, often including a customer relationship management (CRM), human resource management system (HRMS), finance and accounting, billing, and payroll system, and the list can go on and on.

It is a critical part of an FSMS because of the complicated nature of food production and distribution. A manufacturing plant is highly dependent on several suppliers/vendors for ingredients. Any delay in the supply chain/logistics process for just one ingredient may lead to a domino effect, which can then lead to the expiration of other ingredients down the line. A well-designed custom ERP system will send automated alerts about specific deadlines, expirations, and low inventory on ingredients and/or certain supply chain products.

The ERP system will also include tools to handle the organization’s financial well-being by tracking costs and assets, avoiding loss of time and money. Training employees is another resource that can be monitored through the ERP system, in which the system is designed to ensure that all employees have up-to-date training on food safety standards.

4.     Auditing and Reporting

FSMS audits are an integral part of meeting certification requirements. Managers can supply real-time data about the production process with a well-designed software solution. In a cloud-based system, reports at every processing step are available from any location at any time.

Why Food Safety Compliance Systems Are Important

An FSMS is more than a food safety solutions tool. It monitors the food production and distribution process from start to finish yielding several benefits. Here are some of the inherent benefits that food safety compliance systems deliver:

Consumer Safety

The primary benefit of an FSMS is that it keeps consumers safe. No one wants their brand associated with a foodborne illness outbreak and the complications that come with it. On top of this, allergens have to be seriously considered when it comes to food and customer safety; but with the ISO 22000, such risks are covered, and guidance is offered.

Product Consistency

By tracking ingredients and procedures, a food manufacturing and distribution company will produce consistent quality products. There should be little to no variation from one batch to the next. And consumers who enjoy a particular food product will keep coming back for more.

Reduced Waste

Food waste is a chronic problem around the world. When ingredients go past their expiration dates, there is little choice but to throw them away. An FSMS can alert the producer of food products that they have certain inventory items that are about to expire so action can be taken—minimizing food waste at all costs and thus providing endless benefits for both the planet and a company’s bottom line.

Streamlined Production

A comprehensive FSMS will provide data that pinpoints inefficiencies and friction points in the production process. Correcting these issues lowers production costs. Using a Cloud-based system creates numerous possibilities from farm to retail. Users can take advantage of robust features accessible from a single dashboard, including farmer profiling, farm digitization, instant tracking, data security, accessibility, and analytics.

Simplified Compliance

Moving from written to digital reporting makes it easier for a company to meet safety standards. As well as collect a history of procedures and documents to be retrospectively viewed for patterns, problems, and improvements. The auditing process will take less time, and the company’s safety certifications renew effortlessly.

Implementing a Custom FSMS

Relying on paper as an effective form of organization and documentation is an outdated and error-riddled form of management. In these technologically advanced and primarily digitally-operated times, even having the basic software set-up is not enough to keep track of a business.

The agri-tech industry has grown exponentially over the last few years, and sophisticated software solutions are needed to grow along with it. In 2019, the industry was valued at over $17.4 million, but by 2027 it is expected to grow to over $41.1 million. This rapidly approaching increase in demand means that agri-tech businesses everywhere will be in need of custom software to provide solutions to current issues to aid in their smooth progression with demand.

A reputable FSMS development team will build and customize a food safety compliance system that meets the individual needs of a food production and distribution business. With apt industry experience combined with technical knowledge, they will analyze and develop solutions that make a difference. The software will comply with Codex HACCP Principles and traceability concerns while still being personalized to the customer’s preferences.

Listed are some of the most compelling features a Custom FSMS can offer:

Predictive Risk Modeling

AI analytics process data streams from multiple sources for a well-founded and accurate data collection. They also provide warnings when there is a potential disruption in production, which could easily create a negative domino effect. For example, it could warn of a weather event in a distant location that may cause delivery delays.

Real-Time Alerts and Notifications

A customized FSMS will be aware of food safety compliance standards and create rule-based alerts if it spots something amiss. For instance, it will immediately inform specific administrators or users if a refrigerated storage unit changes in temperature, thus allowing the proper channels to be alerted so that they can save the perishables along with the money invested in them.

Peripheral Incorporation

Many businesses use barcode scanners to log inventories and track produce. An Independent Software Vendor (ISV) will incorporate the company’s current recording solution and empower the FSMS to keep track of a food supply chain, all the way from the factory to store shelves.

Implementation and Support

With a dependable ISV team, a business’s FSMSs will not only be built from scratch and implemented with custom features, but they will also be there for maintenance and support with whatever may arise. The transition from paper to digital will be as smooth as possible while also ensuring that a customer’s business maintains a positive relationship with its custom software.

Essential Development Skillsets for Building a Custom FSMS Solution

A seasoned software developer with many years of technical knowledge combined with industry experience will have a vast understanding of the necessary skillsets needed to build a custom FSMS (while always considering a business’s personal HACCP). This includes:

  • An understanding of BRC management system standards, BRC compliance, and auditing techniques.
  • An understanding of AOECS, HALAL, Kosher requirements, and non-food standards (specific to the agri-tech industry).
  • Qualifications and/or experience as a HACCP, ISO 22000, and FSSC 22000 auditor. Which contains the food safety management system requirements of the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) – a recognized scheme.
  • Experience in producing custom software solutions for Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG).
  • Knowledge of using a GAP analysis to identify any missing elements to the software.
  • An understanding of the importance of the international guidelines they need to follow – HACCP Codex Alimentarius.
  • A practical and professional understanding of JavaScript, TypeScript, HTML, CSS, and Node.JS, as well as knowing whether to utilize a Declarative or Imperative programming paradigm.

With a thorough understanding and experience of these, a software developer can effortlessly build a reliable FSMS. It will be a software solution designed to tackle all personal issues and preferences while also creating a lasting positive impact for the business side of things.

Food Safety Software Solutions for Improved Oversight

Since Covid-19, interoperability of data management has been vital in dealing with, and overcoming, losses. Incorporating digital food safety compliance solutions will transform how food producers, restaurants, and the agri-tech industry operates.

The right software solution will protect both the business and its customers from the dangers of foodborne illnesses. It is clear that a well-monitored production process leads to higher product quality and consistency, and with a custom FSMS, such benefits have never been more attainable. With this custom-tailored software solution in place, consumers can safely enjoy the foods they love while businesses gain a solid reputation and an increase in profits at every turn.

Read more: 6 Foods to Keep Your Eyes Healthy

Tyler Boykin

By Tyler Boykin

Tyler Boykin is a Director of Sales at Chetu, Inc., a global, custom software development company, where he oversees the Hospitality & Travel, Transportation, Events & Meetings, and IT Service Management accounts, as well as a myriad of partner tools. A graduate of the University of West Georgia, Tyler joined Chetu in 2013 where has risen through the ranks of the sales department and helped the company grow into an award-winning organization.

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