Guest Post by: Rosalinda Cerna, MPH, CP-FS, EHS

Former Environmental Health and Safety Manager, Whole Foods Market

In my twenty years as a food safety professional, one of the constant challenges I have come across is maintaining accurate monitoring logs. If there’s one excuse I always hear, it’s “I just did not have enough time to fill out the log.” Traditional paper-based logbooks don’t provide enough transparency or accountability to ensure this critical step in the prevention of foodborne illness is followed through in the most accurate and efficient manner.  

Complete, correct, and consistent food safety logs can save a company thousands — if not millions — of dollars in litigation and compensatory claims. They can also prevent the spread of foodborne illness and unnecessary illness and death.

Today’s food industry is starting to be supported by younger, tech-savvy employees. These employees lack the patience for impractical and inconvenient paper-and-pen monitoring logs. Digital checklists tools like CoInspect are an ideal way to harness technology to support an organization’s commitment to performing daily due diligence.

Digital Checklists: Putting Some Spice into Food Safety Logs

The large clipboards, endless paper logs, and pens and pencils that are used to fill out traditional logs have well lived far beyond their time. These traditional methods have proven to be ineffective and can be a nightmare for an organization facing litigation or regulatory issues.

Some of the ways digital checklists can enhance a food safety program include:

  • More accurate data collection: Digital software provides the ability to access pertinent regulatory standards that will help the end user to better monitor critical control limits.
  • Immediate access to corrective action procedures: The ability to include multiple corrective actions within a checklist item can provide the end user with very clear directives and expectations regarding potential hazards, as well as monitor the corrective action to determine if the right course of action was taken.
  • Evaluation of the end user: Through the use of dashboards and other tracking abilities, it is easier to compare and evaluate end user skills and knowledge. Managers can use this information to enhance training and improve their employees’ skills.
  • Accurate record keeping: The ability to store information digitally eliminates the need for storage of hard copy logs, which saves an organization thousands of dollars in storage and litigation cost.
  • Mobile-Friendly: Digital checklists like CoInspect can be used on any smartphone or tablet. This can save an organization thousands of dollars in purchasing devices, since most companies now have corporate-owned tablets and phones. It also allows the end user to work on a device they are familiar with and comfortable using.  

Ten years ago, the idea of digital checklists was cutting edge. The cost to bring in this type of software was prohibitive. For most operators within the food industry, the potential efficiencies, compensatory savings and workflow improvement was not clear enough to justify the financial cost incurred.

Today we live in a different time. Not using digital tools to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of your food safety program is to put your organization at great risk. The financial return on investment is practically guaranteed. The appeal of mobile technology to the Millennial generation, who form the backbone of the food industry workforce, is one of the most compelling reasons. A digital checklist like CoInspect speaks to their need for practicality and efficiency, which will ultimately ensure an organization’s due diligence is being performed on a daily basis.