Somewhere on almost every city, county or state web site across the U.S., you can find information about that government’s food inspection process. An example of how involved and detailed the process is can be is found on the Larimer County, Colorado web site, which lists all the critical and non-critical items that need to be checked on a regular basis to prevent food borne illness. One quick glance tells you that this is a process that screams for a mobile checklist form app that can be accessed via the cloud on a tablet computer.
Traditionally, food safety inspections and audits were conducted in the field using a clipboard, pen, and paper then transcribed to working documents and reports back at the office. Even web-based auditing solutions still require paper forms and computers to enter the data back into the system.
The development of mobile apps for handheld devices and smartphones has minimized administrative tasks. Mobile apps can be a faster, simpler and more cost-effective way of carrying out audits than paper based solutions.
Sadly, not nearly enough of these governments are availing themselves of the simple, yet robust, technology solutions that would make their jobs far easier, more contemporary, and more comprehensive, resulting in improved food safety for their citizenry and reduced cost for their organizations.
Our EZFORMS Checklist and Audit Compliance app is a great tool for government food inspection organizations. The app functionality guides a user through the inspection process in a checklist format, while allowing them to write extensive comments and even capture images from the inspection. The app can be customized by the user to cover key elements of the inspection process such as evidence of pests, employee cleanliness, and workplace safety, equipment and cooking /storage temperatures. The app can also be customized to meet specific auditing requirements. Once the checklist app is completed, a report, in PDF format, is automatically generated that can be emailed and is stored in a web portal, so that paper forms do not need to be carried around during an audit. There is also ability for the Inspector's signature and date of the audit to be captured.
These are the kinds of tools that exist with the potential to materially improve the food inspection processes at all levels of government. Food quality incidents will probably never be completely eliminated, but having the means to minimize the quantity, scale, and scope of incidents and failing to equip food inspection teams with those means would be a failure of leadership.