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6 April, 2016 - 11:51 By Kate Sweeney

Landmark Cambridge alliance boosts UK food safety

Cambridge technology innovator Checkit has joined forces with the city council to develop a next generation cloud-based food safety management system designed to revolutionise food safety compliance.

Checkit is a spin-off from product design hothouse Elektron Technology and has become a leader in automated monitoring and work management solutions across food, safety and facilities management.

The system, which builds upon the Food Standards Agency’s Safer Food Better Business, enables all food businesses – whether a single restaurant or a UK-wide chain, hospital or even a school – to replace their paper-based system with interactive digital checklists and automated cloud-based monitoring, to give improved compliance, control and visibility.

Through the Primary Authority Partnership, Cambridge City Council has approved the use of the Checkit solution as a food safety management system, clearing the way for widespread adoption of the new technology. Through the partnership, the city council is able to provide confidence and advice to Checkit customers who sign up as partner businesses, and confirmation to other food authorities across the UK that Checkit is able to fulfil the legal requirements food businesses must have.

The advanced Checkit system has been created to fully digitise the management and recording of tasks. It comprises four elements – the Memo, a handheld unit that displays scheduled tasks to staff, guiding them to ensure they comply with business processes and procedures, and then automatically recording and date-stamping their actions; handheld probes that allow the checking of temperatures and the wireless Internet–of-Things sensors that can automatically monitor temperature, humidity or door status, 24/7.

All of the data feeds to the Checkit Control Centre. This is cloud-based management and monitoring software that provides businesses with real-time control and visibility over all of their operations.

It enables managers to see at a glance which food safety tasks have been completed, and which have not. Checkit provides a verified audit trail that gives a full account of the business’s food safety activities, or an accurate, at-a-glance overview of the state of compliance. This summary is ideal for area managers, or even, if requested, for enforcement officers.

Frank Harrison, manager of the city council’s commercial team, said: “Checkit can provide a complete digital record of all of the tasks carried out by the business. It gives an accurate and verifiable record of compliance which benefits all good food businesses, and so offers the best opportunity for the business to succeed and achieve a high food rating.

“In a workplace where paper-based records are easily damaged, lost, or simply not available, a digital system which is always ready for use, makes record-keeping easy, accurate and fast, thereby saving the business time and money, while offering minimal disruption to the operations.”

As well as affecting the health of consumers, poor food safety also has a significant business impact, including leading to loss of custom, reputational damage, lower revenues, and potential prosecution. All of these can lead to the collapse of the business.

Food businesses, including restaurants, supermarkets, schools and hospitals, are rated under the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme which publicly displays the current ratings of qualifying food businesses.

The maintenance of a complete and accurate food safety management system is essential for legal compliance, and to achieve a good food hygiene rating; Checkit allows the business to achieve this, enabling checklists to be created and monitored around processes including food storage procedures and cleanliness.

“Cambridge has a global reputation for innovative ideas, and this partnership is a perfect example of public and private sectors working together to transform how task-based businesses, such as those in the food industry, operate,” said Martin Nash, Product Line Manager, Checkit.

“Digital checklists are key to automating control over previously manual processes. We believe food safety is just the first application for our technology and are already seeing multiple applications in areas as diverse as healthcare and facilities management, where we can assist organisations in increasing efficiency and real-time control.”

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