Are you ready for inspection?

Regulations to ensure food safety

When someone falls ill or dies because of contaminated food, this is not only a human disaster. It’s also very bad publicity for the company involved and may cause the market value of the business to drop. Given the impact of social media these days, the trust of customers in a certain food category may vanish. One bite of bad food may have dire economic consequences.

To avoid this, governments are imposing ever stricter regulations on how food is treated. 

Proper documentation required

Proper documentation is key in adhering to these regulations and proving you abide by these regulations. There are many standards that companies in the food industry need to adhere to. These standards may differ from country to country or across continents, but general rules apply.

Let’s just take the example of a Food Safety Management System (FSMS). Any FSMS will include:

- a HACCP (Hazard Analysis of Critical Control Points) plan;
- written procedures in the form of programs, for instance when it comes to product testing, pest control, recall, traceability, allergens and other programs; 
- work instructions for each of these programs. For instance, work instructions that clarify roles and responsibilities and the exact task(s) workers need to carry out when it comes to hygiene and sanitation.

The dual purpose of documentation

From the example of the FSMS, it becomes clear that documenting is crucial in demonstrating that a company adheres to all applicable standards. In fact, proper documentation serves a dual purpose:

- it tells people exactly what to do;
- it allows quality managers to pull up the right documents when the company is under inspection.

Current documentation often falls short

While most companies are full of goodwill and do their best to document everything, all too often documentation falls short, because:

- there is no standard to documentation: people use different tools and different writing styles. This makes content hard to understand and it becomes difficult to compare documents. This problem is sometimes made worse by inconsistent layouts.
- documentation is difficult to find and hard to access
- documents are inefficiently updated. Especially when food and safety are concerned, updates to reflect changes in regulations are key.
- content is not written with reuse in mind, while in many guidelines and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), elements are often the same.
- client-specific style guides don’t exist.

Information Mapping turns content into action

With that in mind, how can companies do better? How can they turn their content into action? Our advice would be to standardize on a tool that is

- based on a scientific methodology
- developed to analyze, organize and present clear and user-focused information.

Information Mapping brings structure to unstructured information, making documents accurate, concise, consistent, complete and easier to consult, exchange, reuse and post online. By making documents more accessible, Information Mapping users obtain cost reduction, higher efficiency, better compliance and revenue growth.

And what’s more: your documentation will be inspection-proof!

A client story

A great example of a food manufacturer using the Information Mapping Method and tool is ADM (Archer Daniels Midland). ADM is one of the world’s leading agricultural processing companies, converting crops into food, fuel, and industrial products. The Corn Processing Operation was looking to create content standards for procedural documentation and turned to Information Mapping. ADM is currently using Information Mapping to:

- create a content standard for all procedure documentation
- create clear, user-focused documentation that is easy to understand
- provide consistency with full supporting documents throughout the operation to improve compliance
- save documents on SharePoint and automatically transform them into responsive web pages



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