It is a common requirement that the food sold in shops, markets and restaurants has to be not only tasty, but also safe for our health. For this reason, every food operator, according to the European regulation on food safety, has to provide the traceability of food, as well as information regarding the food suppliers. This information must be retained in an official document – The Food Safety Plan – and presented to the authorities. These compulsory procedures may be a hassle for companies that manage large quantities of food, but also for small operators, and the reporting can take up to 3 weeks. Luckily, also in this field, digitization can help to make life easier.
We had a chance to speak with Katrin Liivat, Head of Sales and Marketing at FoodDocs OÜ, about the company’s innovative solution to handle the Food Safety Plan for operations in the food business.
Where did your business idea come from and who is the team behind FoodDocs?
FoodDocs started 1.5 years ago as a two-women startup. Me and Karin have altogether 30 years of experience in food industries. I have been an entrepreneur for last 8 years and Karin is a self-learned developer and has worked as a Food Department Manager in Estonian Defence Forces. Today we have a professional team of 6 who contribute their best every day to make food handlers’ lives easier.
How is the actual food vendors environment in Estonia? How much bureaucratic hassle do the companies have?
Food sellers/handlers’ life is definitely not the easiest one. Creating and managing food safety system requires specific skills, takes a lot of time, needs tracking legal regulations which keep changing constantly, and the whole system has to be in the national language. Also, as long as the Food Safety Plan is printed out, there is no overview of it. In order to open your food handling facility, in addition to the Food Safety Plan, you have to file an application of activity licence, which also takes time and know-how.
What are the main risks of filing the documents on paper?
As long as the Food Safety Plan is printed out, there is no overview of your food safety in different food handling locations. Documents on paper are usually out-of-code, they can get lost, dirty, and they don’t often work.
Digital food safety dashboard is:
- Always up-to-code;
- You have an easy overview of your different food handling businesses;
- You can use it multilingually;
- Food safety plan is easy to manage – plan and report anytime, anywhere;
- Dashboard works for you with automated notifications.
Is the software exportable to other EU countries that have a strong paper legacy? How could it help them to reshape their approach to provide e-services for their citizens?
There are 5 million food handlers in European Union and General Food Law applies to them all. In FoodDocs, there will always be a possibility to create your food safety system as pdf-file and print it out. Digital food safety system is transparent and usable for everyone, and it can even help you start a company!
How has the Estonian Ministry of Rural Affairs and the Estonian Veterinary and Food Board helped you to develop your product?
Both institutions are very open-minded about the digital food safety solutions and they have helped us with all of our questions. It has been really useful for us! Today the Ministry of Rural Affairs is introducing our solution in Brussels to other e-friendly countries.
What are the future plans of FoodDocs? Are you going to conquer the world?
We see that the whole food safety field will be digital in the future. FoodDocs will be the easy-link between food handling companies and authorities. Food safety will be a transparent and easy system for companies, and it won’t be an annoying obligation.