The devil's in the details
In response, some food plants have automated some or all of their HACCP compliance efforts including integrating compliance into operational systems. The benefits include greater consistency, more information and lower operating costs. These automated approaches often include integration with operational systems and the use of handheld devices to capture data.
As part of an automated system, locations within the plant are often bar coded or identified with RF tags. The system then provides a record that the responsible person has actually gone to the coded location and executed the prescribed HACCP activities. It also records the allowed values. When location bar codes are not scanned, the activity is shown as overdue. When values fall outside the acceptable range, corrective actions can be shown on a handheld device. Emails or text messages can even be sent to the appropriate managers to inform or remind them that the statutory activity is incomplete or that monitored values are out of range.
A number of software suppliers are offering products that help manage HACCP reporting efforts. Among the current offerings are:
- Tripod Data Systems or TDS (www.tdsway.com) offers handheld devices designed for the food plant environment. The TDS Recon runs Pocket PC applications and contains two CompactFlash slots that connect to sensors and can be used for temperature and pH, for example. The Recon offers an operating temperature range of -30