According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) is “the most sweeping reform of our food safety laws in more than 70 years.” The law shifts the focus from responding to food and kitchen contamination to preventing it.
It’s not easy on restaurants, however. FSMA has increased complexity and created mountains of paperwork from QA supervisors, managers, and executives who must fill out checklists – usually by hand – multiple times a day for every store under their responsibility. Then they must manually key the information into a spreadsheet or other system in order to generate and file the right reports with the appropriate authorities. Failure to comply can cost a restaurant money, time, and customers – or even risk closure.
The manual method of compliance monitoring has not kept pace with the evolution of the laws, and that’s the real problem. Thankfully, digital checklists make an otherwise complicated mess easily digestible.
- Customizability. Checklists can be configured to meet exactly (and only) the laws affecting your stores – even if you have locations across municipalities or state lines.
- Automation. Better yet, the system itself manages which checklist items populate when and where – QA managers don’t even need to give it a second thought.
- Instead of a clipboard, managers simply wield their tablets or smartphones.
- The information they enter is instantly accessible and searchable by any authorized party in the organization, whether they’re at the store or 1,000 miles away at corporate.
- Actionability. With immediately usable and available real-time data, digitization turns reaction into prevention for restaurant managers, owners, and executives.
In practice, it’s a thing of beauty: our QA manager whips out her tablet, which has already prompted her with a reminder that the next checklist is due. She enters item after item – wait! The cooler temperature isn’t quite right? The digital system can offer specific corrective actions that align with corporate policy and then note that those actions were taken. That protects the company by creating an audit trail that they did exactly what they were supposed to do. Even better, corporate can track at a click if that location has faced temperature issues before – identifying a potential problem before it turns into a PR and legal nightmare. All thanks to digital checklists.