4 minute read

Tools of the Trade: Choosing the Right Devices for Food Safety

Nathaniel Sheetz, Senior Director of Product Management
Neeta Dash, Senior Product Specialist

Previously in this series on achieving food safety goals through the implementation of technology solutions, we’ve explored the importance of understanding the current state, defining the project scope, and identifying how software can guide users to follow food safety best practices. But the success of even the best software is dependent on hardware, so today we turn our attention to ensuring that users have the right physical tools to interact with the new solution.

Choosing the right mobile device

Besides the software solution itself, the devices that employees will use day in and day out to perform and record food safety activities are perhaps the biggest key to success. From the employees’ perspective, reliability and simplicity are essential, while corporate managers must also consider the cost, adaptability and durability of the food safety hardware.

Typically, the first component of the overall hardware decision is identifying the mobile device that employees will use to capture temperatures and document the completion of other food safety tasks. Two main options are available: use mobile devices already deployed to stores or obtain new devices that are (at least initially) dedicated to food safety. Whenever possible, a single cross-functional device is best because it simplifies the user experience, but sometimes other factors drive adoption of new devices.

Choosing the right measurement devices

Besides the mobile device, project stakeholders must also decide how temperatures and other food safety measurements will be completed. Here a variety of options are available:

Notifications and supervision

Of course, the right choice of hardware, particularly with respect to mobile devices, does more than just facilitate temperature capture and other food safety activities. It also serves as a launching point for a variety of other benefits.

Perhaps the most universal benefit is the availability of configurable notifications. Depending on each organization’s needs and culture, audible and visual notifications can be delivered to the right stakeholders at appropriate times. For example:

In addition to delivering notifications, mobile devices can also simplify food safety management by providing easy access to three key supervisory tools: reviews, reports and metrics. While there can be some overlap between them, reviews typically entail any type of manager sign-off associated with specific tasks or temperature captures, reports deliver views of preset or custom sets of data for informational or auditing purposes, and metrics show high-level summary data of department and store compliance.

Review procedures are typically most useful for establishing accountability within departments and stores for food safety. Review tasks can prompt managers to provide explanations for non-compliant conditions and document steps for improvement.

Reporting, on the other hand, exposes temperature data to appropriate store, district and corporate personnel, as well as to internal or external auditors as appropriate. Each category of user will often prefer to examine the data in different ways, making filtering and formatting capabilities essential.

Finally, metrics serve to summarize data in meaningful ways in order to quickly communicate the state of food safety in each department, store and district. A quick glance at metrics like number of non-compliant temperature readings and late tasks can give key stakeholders the information they need to identify opportunities for greater attention and follow-up.


Choosing hardware in a food safety implementation project can be cumbersome, but with an understanding of the project scope, input from the right stakeholders, and the advice of an experienced implementation partner, the devices that best support each company’s food safety goals can be identified and deployed.

In our next blog entry, we will finish this series with a discussion that pulls together the topics we have addressed so far to prepare a strategy for piloting and rolling out the new food safety solution.

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