Every single New Zealand food business has a massive responsibility on their shoulders: to ensure the safety of anyone who might eat their products.
It doesn’t matter where in the supply chain your business sits; whether you’re growing lettuces, transporting raw meat, selling food at markets, cooking up a storm in a kitchen or presenting a prepared dish to a paying customer, food hygiene and food safety should be your number one priority.
Protecting New Zealanders
Until recently, New Zealand didn’t have a great track record when it came to the spread of foodborne diseases, specifically campylobacteriosis (more commonly known as campylobacter). In fact, in 2003 New Zealand reported the highest rate of campylobacter than any developed country, at a whopping 396 reported cases per 100,000 population.
In 2006, the Campylobacter Strategy was introduced by the then New Zealand Food Safety Authority (NZFSA), now part of the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI). Microbiological surveillance activities along with operational guidelines and control measures were developed and implemented, while greater communication and collaboration between parties was enforced. Owners of food businesses were required to create a documented food safety management system that was regularly and reliably updated.
As a result, the number of cases of campylobacteriosis in New Zealand has halved. MPI wants to reduce to reduce human foodborne campylobacteriosis from 88.4 cases per 100,000 people (as was in 2014) to 79.6 cases per 100,000 people by the end of by 2020.
How This Relates to Your Food Business
Much of this goal comes down to how New Zealand’s food suppliers manage their own food hygiene. To help suppliers understand what safety practices need to be enforced, protocols have been introduced. The more protocols that are in place, the safer the public.
For example, if you run a kitchen and receive food like meat or dairy from a supplier, you must record the temperature of the food when it arrives before you put it in your own fridge. Protocols like these directly influence the number of people who get sick, and if health outbreaks do occur they’re very easy to trace.
But for the people who have to adhere to these rules and regulations, it can be frustrating, difficult and annoying. Many of these practices involve extensive record-taking and paperwork. If someone forgets to record a week’s worth of fridge temperatures, there’s a risk of inaccurate data along with decreased food safety as staff or managers trace their steps and potentially fabricate missing details.
For some restaurateurs, training staff to adhere to these regulations can be tough too. The hospitality industry has a typically high turnover rate while many staff only work part-time, which makes food safety and hygiene training complicated.
Food Safety Goes Digital
The requirement to comply with food safety protocols isn’t going away anytime soon – in fact, it’ll probably only become bigger. The answer might be digital, as restaurants and other food businesses have to move towards a more robust process to save time and improve efficiency.
Recording food safety data is much more reliable when it’s done digitally.
Physical paperwork can be monstrous, with clipboards and reams of paper becoming a huge hassle, not just for the restaurateurs trying to collate it all but also for the inspectors who need the data. This is critical - make life easier for the verifier by having the right records on hand for their visit.
Digital recording through software like Safe Food Pro doesn’t fudge data, it reminds you when data hasn’t been logged or if tasks haven’t been completed on time, and helps streamline processes and the actions of multiple staff members.
The Way of the Future is Digital
The fact is that food businesses that record data manually pose a greater risk of non-compliant practices.
For businesses using paper, or even spreadsheets, it’s a very manual process which takes a lot of time and effort when a manager is already spinning a lot of plates. Many hands are involved which means there’s a greater risk of human error, incompetence and laziness.
Until all businesses manage food control plans using software like Safe Food Pro, and all fridges have monitoring devices that automatically record temperatures and upload them to the cloud, or all boxes from suppliers come fitted with temperature gauges that automatically record data, the industry will continue to work inefficiently.
Check out our recent post on whether there might be a better way to record and store your FCP data.
The future is already here. It’s figuring out how to integrate it with what we’re already using and how to make it most accessible cost-wise to smaller establishments.
Take Your Food Business into the Future
Need to improve your own food safety protocols? Keen to make the switch from paper to digital and save your team loads of time and hassle while improving your compliance in the process?
Our software makes it easy to create your own food safety plan using a food control plan template, record data efficiently and securely, and ensure you remain compliant across all MPI regulations.