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Food safety software is as cold as ice

By Joe Whitworth+

14-Apr-2014

Burton Software's cloud-based tool to improve food quality and safety
Burton Software's cloud-based tool to improve food quality and safety

Customers, quality and food safety are tied together, according to the developer of a software program.

Burton Software, a Vancouver based technology company, has created a cloud-based system to move away from manual processes.    

Icicle has been designed for businesses in food or food-related industries that require plans or inspections.

Food industry approach

Steven Burton, president and founder of Burton Software, told FoodQualityNews.com that food safety plans and paradigms differ within the industry.

“Firms take convincing in some cases but others are aware and tech-savvy. It is early days but a food safety programme is obvious so you avoid killing people and losing big bucks so customers, quality and food safety are tied together,” he said.

“The food safety planning is often more complex in small to medium facilities as large companies know their best products and have built up on consumer demand so have fewer products and the smaller guys may have more products and ingredients as they haven’t decided which works best yet.

“You can model the product with the software, the process and the ingredients and optimize the chance of stopping a foodborne outbreak."

HACCP plans

The technology helps implement HACCP food safety plans, document procedures, and undertake real-time inspections to ensure safe food products.

Users are guided through HACCP analysis where hazards are identified and addressed.  

Burton said that it allows food firms to collect data and generates food safety plans easily.

Changes to individual ingredients, materials, processes or packaging are noted in the system, insuring that plans are kept current.

Since its soft launch in 2013, Icicle is being used by more than 250 food producers, processors and distributors based in Canada, China, India, Pakistan, Philippines, US, UK and Vietnam.

Burton said the risks of not having a food safety plan in place ranges from foodborne outbreaks associated with your product, the economic factors involved in a recall and the public perception of being associated with an incident.

“You could be dropped by your customers and a major driver to put in a food safety plan is supermarket chains that are giving suppliers notice that they need a plan that covers specific certifications by a certain date," he said.

“The regulations are helping but they are quite slow in implementation…we have customers in India looking at ISO 22000 and enquiries from China looking to develop access to overseas markets.”

How it works

Burton said the system can model the facility and production lines, identify hazards that might be encountered with a walk-through wizard.

“There are questions to determine if it is a CCP, or partially controlled hazard or can it be controlled in another way. You can document the hazards if they can’t be controlled and press a button and it generates a document set for you.”

He added the system has other features such as a notification if certain system events happen such as audit issues.

“The trend towards cloud-bases systems and the adoption of technology will continue. Real-time manufacturing process left on scale but there is an opportunity to reduce costs and time when it comes to food safety planning.

“Icicle will continue its development, gain more data and increase the intelligence of the system. It will help the developing world deliver the ability to have a comprehensive food safety plan without the upfront investment.”

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