Food Inspection Software
Food is, no doubt, the ultimate source of a happy and healthy life. It is one of the most important assets that our life and wellbeing depends upon. Therefore, the quality of food we ingest is deemed as an extremely crucial matter in the world of medical health sciences.
The public health care agencies, thus, pay very close attention to the quality of food that is being grown, prepared and delivered to the people for consumption. They soon realized that this inspection of food needed to be done through more advance methods in order to adhere to quality standards. For this, food inspection software systems ere developed that ticked all the boxes on their lists.
Departments responsible for the inspection of food would use food inspection systems to trace and analyze food in places such as
- Day-care centers
- Schools and universities
- Hospitals and nursing homes
- Meat and seafood markets
- Ice cream shops
- Convenience stores
- Farmers’ markets and food vendors, etc.
These inspection software are very crucial to the health of our communities, as we consume more than 30% of our food outside our homes.
Hence, it is a dream of every food producing company to have a fool-proof food safety compliance software in order to stand up to the quality standards set by the quality management departments. In order to do so, they much adopt the right software that is approved by regulatory authorities, such as Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
These software systems ensure that the food prepared is fit for consumption as, if the quality of the food is in any way compromised, it may become the cause of various foodborne illnesses which could show the following symptoms:
- Abdominal cramps
This shows hoe important it is for food companies to adhere to food quality and safety standards in order to make food that is free from all sorts of contamination and would benefit the consumers in the long-run as well.
What Are The Types Of Food Inspection?
Food inspection can be done by food inspectors anytime and anywhere. They may come announced or unannounced, depending on the purpose of their visit, and exercise a thorough check-up of the entire food preparing system of the restaurant or company to check if they follow the quality standards set by the regulatory authorities.
The types of food inspections a regulatory team may follow are:
- Pre-operational inspection: This type depends upon the scale and context of inspection. These are also referred to as in-house inspections that may run daily to monitor day-to-day tasks. A check-list is followed that checks whether
- the previous shift has done post-operational cleaning
- the equipment has been calibrated
- food sanitation procedures have been followed, etc.
Other formal preoperational inspections are done by legal authorities before a food business is officially opened which, if approved, gives an certified ticket to the business owner to proceed with the opening.
- Routine inspections: This type of inspection may com unannounced as a part of routine check-ups and are usually done either by local or national authorities to check whether the business is running as mandated. This is also known as periodic inspection.
- HACCP or any food safety plan inspection: Whatever plan one way choose for their food business, be HACCP or any other, he/she needs to have a comprehensive list that would include the following:
- hazard analyses
- preventive measures
- monitoring procedures
Food inspectors pay visits in this type of infection to check whether the business is standing up to the established critical limits.
- Follow-up inspection: If an inspector notices a food business, slipping here and there through the loopholes and compromising on the set standards, he would forward their reports to them as a chance of correcting their mistakes before any critical action is taken. This inspection is usually done a few days after the first assessment.
- Complaint inspection: This is the danger zone; one where a good food business would never want to step in. This inspection is done in case a complaint is registered against the business regarding any food-safety related issues. It includes investigating the complaint and the root cause of the issue. The inspector may even issue penalties or fine depending on the intensity of violation.
- License renewal: A business owner may need to renew his license to operate between 2-3 years. This license entails a food safety inspection that keeps a check and balance on the quality of food the business is providing according to the food safety laws.
Food Inspection Requirements
Food inspection is a process by which a food inspector scans the food for possible traces of microbes, pathogens and other harmful elements that might inflict harm on its consumer’s health.
The WHO (World Health Organization) claims that there are five key elements that are required for an effective food inspection are:
Cleanliness and hygiene: Harmful microorganisms travel through contaminated water and stick on the surfaces of ingredients, equipment, utensils and hands. Proper cleaning of these is, therefore, imperative to maintain a clean and healthy environment. The important steps to follow to do so are listed below:
- Washing utensils before and after food preparation
- Washing hands after using the toilet, trash, etc.
- Sanitizing all surfaces used for working and cooking
- Protecting the cooking area from contaminants
Separate raw and cooked ingredients: Raw ingredients have the capacity to store microorganisms. If they are not separated from cooked ingredients, these pathogens can make their way to food. This phenomenon is known as ‘cross-contamination’.
Proper cooking: Proper cooking at a temperature of at least 70 Degree Celsius is known to eradicate harmful germs and microorganisms. This includes poultry and meat.
Steps one can take for proper sterilization include:
- Allowing the heat on for an additional one minute after boiling water
- Using a thermometer to check the temperature of meat or poultry
- Reheating food evenly and thoroughly
Providing proper temperature level to the food: Storing food at optimal temperatures to avoid spoilage is also a very important factor the businesses have to be mindful of. Ideally, food should be stored at a temperature above 60 or below 5 degrees Celsius.
Using raw ingredients and water safely: Harmful microorganisms can travel through water and raw meat, which is why food containing both or any of the two should be cooked with utmost care. Using filtered or boiled water should do the trick.
Food Inspection Checklist
Below are listed a few of the things needed to check while practicing a proper food inspection.
- Food is kept at a height of at least 6” from the ground.
- Chemicals and food are kept separately.
- Food is stored in a clean, dry place that is free from contamination.
Freezer and Refrigerator Maintenance
- Thermometer displays the correct temperature.
- Refrigerators and freezers are clean.
- Food items are correctly labelled and dated.
- Food is protected from cross-contamination.
- Frozen food is thawed properly.
- Staff uses gloves, clean hands, or utensils when handling food.
- Food is heated to the correct temperature.
- Washing station is organized into three sections (washing, rinsing, sanitizing).
- Equipment is clean.
- Utensils are properly covered to protect from contamination.
- Water temperature is heated to the correct temperature.
- Garbage is disposed properly and receptacles have lids.
- Garbage and recycling bins are emptied on time.
- The area around the dumpster is clean.
- Garbage bins are cleaned regularly.
- Employees wear hairnets, and male employees cover facial hair.
- Eating and smoking areas are kept away from food prep areas.
- Employees wear clean clothes.
See full checklist here.
The Role Of Technology In Food Inspection
Most food businesses rely solely on outdated methods of food inspection that include paper, pen and unlimited trust on the employees to maintain proper food safety standards. But, these methods may very well be an invitation to various foodborne illnesses.
Therefore, modern technological ways need to be incorporated in order to maintain proper safety standards; and, needless to say, modern technology has made all this very convenient and easy.
Technology has all the answers to all the questions food inspectors and critics may have and makes food business owners ever the more efficient in staying above the set benchmark as it puts everything on their fingertips.
Food business owners can efficiently track and store all their safety efforts and also manage them through digitization. With digital food inspection software, one can easily keep an eye on quality assurance and sanitation inspections.
Another example of such technological advancements is the Bluetooth thermometer that not only checks real-time temperature, but also contains sensors that help maintain safety logs.
Food Inspection Software Examples
Many companies have worked diligently to make food inspection easier and more efficient and the result is that we now have a good variety of software systems to choose from when it comes to food inspection.
Listed below are a few examples.
- MasterControl Qx
- Food Connex
- Fishbowl Inventory
- BatchMaster ERP
Folio3’s Best Food Safety Software for Quality Management of Food
Folio3 provides a 1-step solution to all the food safety problems.
Food Inspection Software Integration
Most food inspection software do not require wires and wires of computers and hardware to be installed in food business sites, rather, for better convenience, they have been converted to apps. These can be installed on smartphones and tablets as well.
Updating the logs on these smartphone apps on daily basis can help their users stay up do date with all the safety protocols and also maintain and follow all the necessary steps needed for a food business to tick all the boxes of a food inspector’s food safety checklist.
Q: How long does a food inspection take?
Food inspection durations vary with the intensity of need for an inspection. Some take lesser time while some, for example while complaint inspection, may take longer. But generally, common food inspections take between one to two hours.