Environmental Monitoring Data: Top Tips

May 26, 2023

While the use of data in business practices grows daily, and the field of food safety is no exception, it’s important to understand how food businesses are using their data. This comes in forms of:

  • Identification and mitigation of risk
  • Personalization and recommendation
  • Customer acquisition and retention
  • Forecasting and price optimization
  • Preventive maintenance and support
  • Fraud prevention and cybersecurity

The Cost of Implementing Data Systems

Implementing new data management systems requires an investment of resources such as a degree of comfort working in digital systems, time and effort to launch systems, and bandwidth for periodic assessments of collected data. While this may come with a learning curve for some, the benefits from strong environmental monitoring data can be seen in production and operational efficiency, increased sustainability efforts, and brand reputation protection.

A Basic Data Management System

Using a data management system means data gathering, storage, and analysis. Regular lab reports can be received and used to make decisions. This data can then be stored in a dedicated binder that’s readily available for audits and inspections. Analysis of this data can come from an Excel sheet, where the results are transferred and allow for track and trend results, or from the use of a digital database, which enables searchable metadata and downstream analysis. With this metadata, summary statistics can be visualized over space, time, and object type.

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Data Storytelling

One of the most important benefits from data comes after the collection and analysis. This involves interpretation and communication. When communicated properly, data can be one of the most powerful tools for change and improvement, but this is a step often forgotten about or not executed correctly. To display data to others effectively, figuring out the story is key. Thinking about the strategy, having a main point, and helping the audience remember and understand these points can help make the information stick. Examples of takeaways can include:

  • We should act or We should do nothing
  • This is where we should invest more resources or We should put fewer resources here
  • More information is needed on this specific topic or This is the clear next step

It’s also important to note what not to do when presenting data. Data may help tell the story but will never fully tell the story for you. Therefore, one must remember to avoid data dumping and assuming the audience will get the message.

Where to Get Started

The process of beginning to use data management systems does not need to be complex. One should start by collaborating with an outside expert. These can be colleagues, academics, technical representatives, etc. Next is the understanding of the maturity of data management systems, knowing where one is now and acknowledging any steps that work towards increasing data and system maturity. Finally having a solid plan for data protection, including storage and security and access.

In the realm of food safety, data is a powerful tool that can transform businesses and safeguard consumer well-being. By implementing robust data management systems, leveraging advanced analysis techniques, and becoming effective data storytellers, food businesses can unlock new levels of success. 

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Category: Food Safety, Dietary Supplements, Food & Beverage, Environmental Monitoring