Using Digital Food Safety Data to Improve Operational Efficiency for Packers / Processors
By Ana Laura Alonso
August 6, 2020
By implementing a food safety software that enables data collection, packers and processors can benefit from insights on how operations can be improved. On this last installment of our blog series centered on metrics to improve efficiency, we will lay out ways in which you can use your own data to enhance your packing/processing performance.
Requirements for collecting information for quality and food safety purposes continue to increase. With the FDA’s New Era for Smarter Food Safety Blueprint, companies are encouraged to leverage technology and other tools to create a safer and more digital, traceable food system.
With this incentive in mind, a food safety software and quality management program in packing and processing facilities will not only deliver information available for immediate review upon data entry, the measurement of metrics in real time will help food safety leaders be better prepared and make decisions based upon actionable data to advance continuous improvement.
Some examples of easy to track metrics:
- Weight trending: In packing and processing facilities, weight standards for final products are set. Whether big or small, you process and pack bags/boxes that should weigh the same. If you are capturing the final weight on paper, it is difficult to know if the information confirms that all finished product weight is consistent. With a digital FSQA program, you can access this data immediately and make rapid adjustments if you aren’t meeting product weight standards. By aligning operations to label and finished product standards in real-time, you improve your product quality and reduce potential monetary losses.
- Product ratios: When multiple ingredients are packed for a finished product, such as bagged salad mixes, there are percentages established for the required amount of each ingredient. Collecting the information digitally for the ratios on the final product allows you to monitor ingredients and ensure the proper proportions are being followed. Since digital information is available as soon as it is entered, you can identify any ingredient proportion issues quickly and make immediate corrections to lessen any disruptions during processing.
- Foreign Objects: Although high quality and food safety standards are implemented in your packing or processing operations, packed products are sometimes exposed to the presence of a foreign object, such as metal, in the finished packaged product. A digital FSQA program alerts you immediately if a foreign object is found during product testing preventing the issue from escalating. The digital data collection allows you to measure if these failures occur due to employees not being properly trained and identify improvement opportunities for processes.
- Water testing: As one of the crucial items in food supply chain operations, it is important to quickly identify if water testing parameters are being met and/or decide if immediate improvements are needed if thresholds are not being met. Real-time alerts presented on digital FSQA enables you to track incidents and react to situations rapidly, resulting in less product loss and improved prevention of risks.
These are some examples gained from real-time, actionable data in packing/processing facilities. Digital food safety and quality management programs will provide information for your operations as well as transparency on your processes. Leverage the expediency and accuracy of your data to find continuous improvement opportunities.
To learn more about the process of transitioning your FSQA program to digital you can see our webinar Beginners’ Guide to Taking Your FSQA Program Digital on demand.