Justifying a Digitized Testing and Sanitation Program

July 24, 2023

The advancement of digitally automated testing and sanitation programs is accelerating. This is similar in many ways to our collective experience with other industries.

There are several examples we can draw from:

  • Electronic health records transformed the way we interact with our healthcare providers and insurers. Gone are the days when our information was collected and stored in a color-coded paper folder system at our practitioner's office. Today, our health data is accessible by providers wherever and whenever needed as we move about in our lives and as our healthcare requirements change.
  • All modes of travel services offer online booking and cater to our individual needs — from seating preferences to dietary choices, all can be selected quickly from an online menu of options. Employers often tie their expense systems directly to a travel booking platform of choice that features accommodations and travel services in one place. The old days of booking offline through a travel agent are long past.
  • Most banking and financial services are available online, including direct deposit and electronic bill payments with no need for paper checks. Ask yourself: When was the last time you manually balanced your checkbook?
  • Publishing may have seen the single greatest seismic shift from digital transformation, in the form of hard-copy books and periodicals versus e-books and websites. The internet absolutely has changed the way we access and consume information, whether for pleasure or for business.

When these, and many other examples of digital transformation occurred, there was resistance. You may recall the outcry: “How can we trust the internet to manage our money?!” At first, the extent of change seemed too drastic, as most major changes do. The same is true now as we advance into the “early adopter” phase of the digital transformation of food safety testing and sanitation processes. Just like then, we hear a similar refrain now: “How can we trust our testing data to the internet?!”

To answer this, we must establish a business justification for digitally transforming food safety testing and sanitation programs; business justifications are not always well understood, however.

Here are four ways to think about this based on real, proven, metric-driven business outcomes.

Risk reduction: Manually run testing programs are riddled with opportunities for error. Human error creeps in when paper and manual spreadsheet-based recordkeeping is relied on as the source of truth. Accuracy of testing program execution and diagnostic results analysis is essential, so why rely on manual paper and spreadsheet data? The exchange of information with the lab is another area where data can be mishandled or corrupted, and mistakes overlooked. Risk occurs any time that a presumed positive test result is missed or is flagged erroneously or is otherwise sent as a false positive, negative for pass/fail finding. A potential issue may be missed, or in the case of a false positive, resources may be wasted on unnecessary and expensive corrective actions. Reducing these instances of error provides immediate return on investment (ROI) by lowering both the risk and cost associated with proper management of food safety testing data.

Quality improvement: The faster an issue can be discovered and addressed, the more rapidly a problem can be identified, quarantined, and removed. Waiting for days or as long as a week to see an actionable quality management report impedes and delays the ability to address issues. Automation of this data and the analysis of trends can occur in near real-time and point to problems before they impact quality. This change provides business justification in several realms, including production continuity, customer relations, brand value, and sustainability performance.

Efficiency gains: Manually executing a testing program to verify the effectiveness of sanitation controls, even when performed precisely and in conformance with all internal policies, is an arduous, multi-step process. Neogen has found that automation of the process streamlines an environmental monitoring program (EMP) from 36 manual steps down to just 6, with the remainder being automated. This 6x gain translates to fewer resources being required to execute an EMP, while freeing up trained scientists to perform higher-level functions — such as analyzing the data rather than manually managing it within spreadsheets and pivot tables.

Staff utilization & retention: When trained scientists are freed from tedious and repetitive manual processes and can focus on their true calling, they tend to find greater job satisfaction and fulfillment. This translates to lower turnover, decreased costs for recruiting, hiring, and training, and greater business continuity. Over time, an automated EMP enables scientists to do what they do best — form hypotheses, test theories, and improve overall food safety outcomes through more effective means of testing, tracking, tracing, and eradicating harmful pathogens and contaminants from food production areas. This all translates to significant ROI.

To learn more about what ROI organizations are seeing with their digital food safety testing and sanitation programs, download our ROI white paper now!

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Category: Food Safety, Consumer Goods, Dietary Supplements, Food & Beverage, Pharmaceutical & Biotech, Microbiology, Pathogens, Environmental Monitoring