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How visitor management helps solve food and beverage security challenges

How visitor management helps solve food and beverage security challenges Photo

Food and beverage manufacturing companies are expanding their facilities to meet growing demands for sustainable and innovative products. That growth has to happen within a highly regulated environment, making expansion complex. A visitor management system helps reduce the complexity of meeting stringent regulations and streamlines multiple manual processes associated with facility expansion, security and controls.

90% of businesses regard food safety as a number one priority. 88.62% say regulatory compliance is their number one priority.
Importance of managing risk in food supply chains
90% of businesses regard food safety as a number one priority. 88.62% say regulatory compliance is their number one priority.
SGS’s Supply Chain Management Survey combines data from 290 participants operating in 65 countries.

Food security, technology and compliance - Compliance bodies have set comprehensive regulatory controls in place throughout entire food manufacturing supply chains to prevent the threat of hazardous contamination of food.

Industry regulatory bodies:

Two main regulatory bodies establish compliance standards for food manufacturing facilities:

  • Food and Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) – A regulatory framework for the food industry, international in scope, focusing on the prevention of food safety hazards. An added legislative amendment to GMP
  • Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) – A broad regulatory framework covering all aspects of production from the materials, facilities, equipment and training of staff and visitors.

Companies that want to differentiate themselves in upholding the highest safety and security standards, follow a set of industry initiatives. These industry initiatives are similar to SOC2 attestation, providing a golden standard of quality. It is undertaken by manufacturing companies to show their commitment to the highest level of customer safety.

  • Food safety management system: A regulatory requirement of protocols in supply chains to control risks and hazards. Processes are assessed through compliance to hazard analysis and critical control points (HACCP) and hazard analysis and risk-based preventive controls (HARPC)
  • Global food safety Initiative (GFSI) – An industry-driven global collaboration to advance food and safety (Its authority and universal recognition, comparable to SOC 2 attestation in the technology sector). It’s regarded as the most widely accepted benchmark document for food safety requirements. It’s not a regulatory requirement but has become a condition for many companies as a prerequisite for doing business.

In order to comply with these standards, companies need to eliminate or minimize risks associated with business operations, employees, food stocks, intellectual property and any technology across their entire supply chain. Managing risk efficiently requires having the right processes and controls in place. Let’s take a look at the major risk factors:

Risks associated with visitors at F&B facilities:

  • Food adulteration, posing risks to food stock
  • Access to intellectual property and food research or innovation technologies
  • Employees, researcher’s safety
  • Confidentiality of a company’s information

Effectively managing different classes of visitors, from contractors and vendors to inspectors and temporary staff, requires air-tight controls. Regulatory bodies outline several strict guidelines that dictate processes and procedures.

The Food and Safety Modernization Act requires food processing facilities to have a written food defense plan. Visitor access and controls should be part of that plan. Auditors require detailed records of all visitors to sites, proving that the required protocols were followed. These records need to show that preventative measures have been implemented to identify potential risks, validate them and monitor the effectiveness of dealing with them.

Non-compliance can lead to court action such as seizure or injunction and even suspension of a facility’s food registration.
Frequently asked questions on FSMA.

Managing visitors successfully entails acting proactively, having processes in place to pre-empt any incidents before they happen. It requires the collaboration of multiple stakeholders, such as EHS officers, Operations and Facility managers, Security, IT and HR. Altogether these roles are responsible for the protection of facilities, employees and intellectual properties.

How does a visitor management system help streamline & automate health and safety visitor protocols?

  • Proactively confirms guest are allowed on site through pre-registration invite emails
  • Scans visitors against watchlists and triggers access protocols based on watchlist status
  • Keeps detailed visitor records across all locations for audit purposes
  • Enables customization of visitor protocols for different classes of visitors
  • Ensures correct escort protocols with host notifications via email, text or messaging
  • Presents visitors with legal documents, waivers and NDAs signed and stored digitally
  • Displays training videos such as Health & Safety with options of test quiz pages to acknowledge compliance
  • Includes visitors into emergency evacuation plans through real-time digital logbook & roll call capabilities
  • Enables visual identification with customized printed visitor ID badges with visitor information, photos and expiry options

3 Examples of visitor management systems in food and beverage manufacturing:

Sign In Enterprise has worked with leading food and beverage manufacturers to configure their visitor management platforms to their industry compliance requirements and the unique needs of their organization.

Here is a list of food and beverage best practice scenarios implemented with Sign In Enterprise:

1. Visitor health survey

To prevent unintentional food adulteration, H&S outlines prescriptive conditions to enter facilities. This might include wearing safety masks, overalls and shoe covers. In spite of these preventative measures, it is impossible to have an H&S inspector screen every visitor who might potentially carry a virus that could contaminate food stocks.

A conditional sign-in experience can be set up with a choice page that includes questions on the current personal health of visitors. A visitor who selects the option that they “feel ill” or “have an allergy” triggers an instant notification to an on-site Health & Safety official. A thorough assessment of the visitor’s condition can be completed. The visitor can be added to a watchlist that ensures they are reassessed upon future visits and flagged at other company sites.

2. Health & safety video and testing

From the iPad visitor sign-in console at reception, certain classes of visitors can have a page presented where they have to watch a short H&S training video. A multiple-choice question survey can be added afterward, ensuring visitors understand the protocols. Should they fail it, a notification is triggered to the EHS officer.

The results of the health and safety quiz is stored and automatically presented to a visitor every six months for requalification.

3. Pro-active visitor analysis

With access to consolidated visitor data, companies can pinpoint and isolate recurring visitor behavioral patterns within their Food Safety Management System (SQF). This allows them to detect and analyze essential requirements for various categories of visitors and standardize sign-in protocols to match these specific requirements.

Best practices standardized across locations

Best practice protocols can be identified and deployed across multiple sites providing auditors with consistent proof that visitors:

  • received the required health & safety as well as environmental site training
  • signed food safety, health & safety and confidentiality agreement documentation
  • received instruction on the site’s basic emergency plan activities
  • were provided with appropriately labeled, printed visitor ID badges
  • were never left unattended as hosts received notifications as soon as guests signed in.

Compliance inspector visitor type

A compliance inspector can visit facilities for a spot check at any point in time. A security officer away from their post with an open paper sign-in logbook can leave an inspector with a negative impression to start with. “Health inspector” can be included under the “visitor type” selection on the initial iPad sign-in page.

An inspector can select this option if they choose to, which provides them with a detailed map of the facilities, including information of the department managers on duty. Notifications are set to alert these managers that the inspector is on their way. A customized badge can be printed for the inspector, showing their status and giving them access to all areas they need to assess. Food processor, Bonduelle, standardized their visitor entry process for their contractors, ensuring they meet the highest standards of compliance.

Wrapping up

A visitor management system can be the differentiator that ensures your company has the most effective protocols in place to manage visitors effectively and stay in alignment with your food defense plan.

In an industry with regulatory demands akin to the aerospace sector, technology has become an enabler in driving efficient business practices, the highest standards of compliance and ultimately care for your customer’s health.

Contact our team for a demo and learn how a VMS can increase your security and compliance requirements while maintaining enterprise standard visitor experiences.

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