The current landscape of food certifications like BRCGS, IFS, and FSSC 22000 primarily focuses on validation – ensuring that comply with specific and checklists. While this provides some assurance, it overemphasizes paperwork and neglects the actual effectiveness of food safety systems.

This shift towards validation has inadvertently created a gap between certification and verification. As a result, we're seeing more recalls, increased audit costs, and a growing distrust in the certification process itself. The solution lies in a return to verification, and real-time food safety assurance may be the key to bridging this gap.

Drawbacks of Compliance Systems Based only on Validation

The evolution of has led to an increased emphasis on documentation and compliance with specific requirements. While this is important, it has come at the expense of verifying whether the Analysis and (HACCP) system is truly effective in preventing .

The consequences of this validation-focused approach are significant:

  • Increased Recalls – Despite certifications, food safety incidents and recalls continue to occur, indicating that compliance doesn't always equate to effective .
  • Rising Audit Costs – Audits have become more extensive and expensive, with additional requirements and unannounced audit days adding to the financial burden on companies.
  • Loss of Trust – The need for extra unannounced audits signals a lack of trust in the initial certification process itself.

The Need for Verification and Real-Time Assurance

Effective Food Safety and compliance hinge on the Deming Cycle (Plan-Do-Check-Act), which emphasizes the practical application of knowledge (1). To rebuild trust in food safety, verification must be prioritized. This involves ensuring that Hazard Analysis and Critical Points (HACCP) systems are not merely documented, but actively implemented and maintained daily.

Real-time food safety assurance technologies offer a promising solution:

  • Continuous Monitoring: These systems allow for continuous monitoring of critical control points, providing real-time on food safety performance.
  • Data-Driven Insights: Real-time data can be used to gain insights into , identify areas for improvement, and make informed decisions about food safety management.
Figure 1: Complaince Systems following the “Deming Cycle”

Benefits for Auditors and Food Companies

A shift towards real-time verification would not only improve food safety but also benefit both auditors and food companies:

  • Auditors: Auditors can focus on assessing a company's food safety knowledge and culture rather than just boxes. This would make their job more meaningful and allow them to leverage their expertise more effectively.
  • Food Companies: By embracing real-time assurance, companies can demonstrate a commitment to proactive food safety management. This can lead to improved brand reputation, reduced of recalls, and a more efficient and effective food safety system.

The iMIS Food method

iMIS Food is QAssurance's comprehensive software platform designed to empower food businesses to manage their food safety processes effectively. It offers a knowledge-based system with real-time , ensuring compliance with EU regulations and standards. With features like audit management, reporting, and offline functionality, iMIS Food provides a user-friendly solution for maintaining food safety and quality throughout the supply chain.

Recognizing that many AI tools offer data without guidance, QAssurance's founder Cornelis van Elst within the TITAN Project, is developing an AI solution that not only analyzes but also provides actionable insights and recommendations tailored to each .

Ask iMIS – iMIS Food Safety Compliance Project harnessing AI

The TITAN Project: Improving Food Safety

QAssurance's Ask iMIS project, sparked by the groundbreaking, EU-funded TITAN Project, aims to revolutionize food safety by combining AI and knowledge. As a testament to the innovative solutions fostered by TITAN, QAssurance recently participated in a alongside other project partners, showcasing the Ask iMIS platform and its potential to transform the industry. Ask iMIS is expected to come to life by 2025.

TITAN Project Webinar: QAssurance's Proven Strategies for Food Safety (Beyond) Compliance
Check the full TITAN presentation here.

Food Safety Compliance Scorecard

Verification is not just about external audits; it starts with self-assessment and a strong . Companies must recognize their ultimate responsibility for food safety and proactively understand the strengths and weaknesses within their culture.

Ask yourself:

  • How would you rate your Food Safety Culture?
  • Are there gaps in knowledge or areas where improvement is needed?

Taking this introspective approach is crucial for identifying vulnerabilities and preventing food safety incidents before they occur. With the Food Safety Compliance scorecard, you can identify your weaknesses and perform the right actions.

Online Food Safety Compliance Scorecard
Check the online Food Safety Compliance Scorecard and receive the results directly by email.
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We are a Food Tech firm in Food Safety Compliance. Experts in setting up and maintaining Food Safety Systems for companies in the Food Supply Chain. We are dedicated to breaking down the barriers for Transparency and Trust in the Global Food Supply Chain.
In our Partnership Program we would like to work together with (Non)Governmental Organizations, Universities, Multinationals and Food companies.

iMIS Food is a fully equipped Food Safety Compliance platform. Unique is the installation of an iMIS Food server at the Food company, for online and offline availability. The online (no travel costs) iMIS Food implementation process includes 6 to 10 days of support and has a lead time of 3 months.

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