- fooddocs in media
Katrin Liivat: Why not e-Food Board?
In fact, for a whole year now there has been an e-solution that is used by many well-known Estonian companies and that helps them to assure food safety compliance really easily.
Recently the so far impeccable reputation of Estonian food has suffered a number of blows, and there are indeed some problematic issues with food safety. In particular, this is applies to organisational aspects. Small businesses have limited understanding of food safety and requirements applicable to them, because respective guidelines are written in a language, which is incomprehensible for regular people. Large corporations do not have any real-time overview of the state of their food safety, because all related documents exist on paper. Migrant workers, on whom the Estonian food sector is becoming increasingly reliant, simply do not understand documents written in Estonian.
These problems do not worry just the business community but the state sector as well: officials are overloaded with work, information does not flow fast enough even in a normal situation, let alone in a crisis.
What would be the solution?
Estonian e-Tax system has been successfully running in Estonia for years. This solution has proven its benefits to both companies and private individuals. It is so simple that last year 98 per cent of the population filed their tax returns digitally. Thanks to the paperless administration, each month Estonia saves a pile of paper, the height of which reaches that of the Eiffel Tower!
In the same way that we cannot imagine our life without the e-Tax system, there is no reason why the e-Food Board (let's use this provisional name) would be less successful. The solution could be used by companies, supervisory authorities, the Ministry of Rural Affairs, and – why not – by final consumers. This e-solution would cover the entire supply chain, starting with primary producers and ending with the consumers, while each aspect of safety and origin of food would be transparent at every stage of the chain. Such approach to food safety is unparalleled in the world, and with this new e-state government project Estonia could earn some recognition again.
Estonian businesses would likely have easier access to foreign markets if the origin of their goods could be monitored digitally. Such approach would also improve awareness of food safety aspects among companies and consumers.
Transition to paperless administration would free up quite significant resources in various agencies, giving civil servants a possibility to work on more important topics. Moreover, digitally communicated information would reach businesses much quicker than today. This is very important, particularly in a crisis situation.
The bicycle has already been invented
There is no need to start building the digital food safety system from scratch, it is already available. Perhaps you remember that last season the winner of the Brainhunt TV contest (Ajujaht) was the start-up FoodDocs, whose objective is to help companies operating in the food industry to ensure that their food safety documents are always compliant and that all requirements are always satisfied. A platform was created that has already been implemented by most of Estonia’s major retail and catering chains, such as Selver, Stockmann, Prisma, CoMarket, Coop, Dussmann, Biomarket, Tallink, Tokumaru restaurants and several hundreds of smaller businesses. The goal of these companies is to transit fully to paperless food safety system, which would involve not just making operations more environment friendly, but also providing companies a program that helps to ensure ongoing compliance. For instance, this means that should any food poisoning suspicion arise, it will be easy for the company to demonstrate that all their processes have been compliant.
It is a pleasure to see that the FoodDocs product has been successfully adopted by clients from Germany and Ukraine, and that another start-up from Estonia has begun its worldwide conquest.