New service helps retailers curb food safety risks

The meat industry has been encouraged to utilise digital strategies in combating food safety threats.

Certification provider, Bureau Veritas, has a launched a new digital service to help retailers and restaurant chains carry out routine checks to deliver safe products.

The programme, called SAFEOPS, is a web-based dashboard that displays the status of compliance in each retail outlet across the whole network. In addition, it can be used to enforce a risk-based audit to allocate a business’s budget in the correct areas by focusing on the most risky operations.

The launch comes as Bureau Veritas has also introduced a new white paper: ‘Protecting your Brand and Growing Your Profitability: ‘The New Realities of Food Safety Operations’.

The paper was created to recommend approaches to overcome safety issues, driven by digital methods.

The meat sector is particularly vulnerable to food safety and consumer trust concerns, with the horsemeat scandal rocking the industry in 2013 and, more recently, Ranjit Singh Boparan being summoned before a parliamentary inquiry following allegations of hygiene breaches at its West Bromwich facility.

According to the white paper, it has been estimated that foodborne diseases such as E.coli and norovirus take 420,000 lives ever year on a global level.

“There are several factors that make it challenging to maintain consistency in food quality and brand standards for the modern food outlet,” said Joy Franks, food market director, Europe at Bureau Veritas.

“Inherently, staffing is a major issue; after all, the sector tends to employ a high percentage of relatively inexperienced, short-term and seasonal employees, making it incredibly difficult to maintain a well-trained workforce that fully understands food safety.

“In addition, many establishments still use hardcopy records to record and track data in relation to food safety and operations which can be timely, cumbersome and be all too often prone to human error.”

Consumer trust

Franks highlighted that, with two in five consumers admitting that they would not return to their favourite restaurant if it scored a hygiene rating of three or less, the public are increasingly concerned about food safety.

“Clearly then, it is vital for restaurants and other food outlets to ensure all of their locations consistently adhere to food safety guidelines, as well as the standards promised by their brand ethos.”

The Bureau Veritas said that a digital approach to food safety could “revolutionise” food safety measures in the UK and further afield by streamlining processes, subsequently ensuring accuracy and preventing the risk of human error.

The white paper pointed out that using smart technology equipped with sensors to monitor food temperatures both in storage and during the preparation process can help minimise the risk of foodborne illness. Collecting data on refrigerators and other equipment can also help businesses plan maintenance and repair work more efficiently.

“The business benefits of applying technological solutions in the food sector are significant,” added Franks. “Not only can it help foodservice providers reduce risk and increase compliance with food safety legislation but it enables them to continuously improve quality and consistency. Looking to the future, we see digital as becoming an integral part of the food safety mix and one which outlets should begin taking stock of now.”

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