Food safety and public protection is vital, even more so during the response to COVID. With restrictions being varied over time, many food businesses remain open to the public, and others are rapidly altering their normal operations, including offering takeaway only services for the first time, potentially increasing the risks to food safety.
At the same time, and in accordance with advice from the Food Standards Agency (FSA), food regulators are currently cancelling many proactive face to face interventions to reduce the risks of COVID transfer for both visiting officers and food business employees.
As guided by the FSA, local authorities are investigating the options for remote intervention in appropriate food businesses using the latest technologies to provide assurance that food hygiene and safety standards are being maintained. This provides an opportunity to continue to carry out regulation in relevant food sectors, now under COVID, but also into the future to bring long term efficiencies. It is acknowledged that remote interventions will not be suitable in all circumstances, such as where higher risk arises, or where enforcement action is likely, and in these circumstances a formal visit will often be preferred.
SOTD is an established and trusted platform and was the original website to publish food hygiene ratings on behalf of Local Authorities.
As such, SOTD already holds a number of key pieces of information relevant to local authority food interventions:
The platform has the capability to enable multiple intervention types in food businesses, from advice and support, through to various forms of official controls. We provide a secure (two factor authenticated) interface between LA's and food businesses via a simple one-time link. This enables businesses to upload their documentation with a full compliant audit trial.
The platform has been developed to support Digital Interventions, enabling an inspector to securely:
The SOTD platform offers the FBO:
The SOTD platform is entirely separate from the LA's back office system. Once the intervention and any rectification work are complete (with the necessary records being saved to the LA database digitally), all data is purged from the platform.
By offering remote support and regulation of food businesses digitally, significant financial and environmental savings can be made from a reduced number of face-to-face monitoring interventions and a paperless system.
The SOTD Digital Intervention platform allows regulators to continue to deliver appropriate interventions remotely, saving time and resources.
An average standard inspection costs the taxpayer around £150(2) . Across England, Wales and NI there are 534,000 food businesses. Not all will be inspected each year, but in 2018/19, 238,000 inspections took place, with 110,000 'other' interventions recorded (3). [As stated earlier, not all of these will be candidates for digital inspections]
Remote, Digital Intervention provides an effective regulatory tool during the COVID response and on into the future. It will save on travel time, and carbon footprint. It can provide all the required data in digital form which is then saved to back office systems paperlessly. There is no requirement for further scanning or photocopying, thereby reducing administration costs.
To find out more, contact us at Sales AT Transparencydata DOT co DOT uk1. Food Business Operators