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Why Horizon Scanning is Essential to Food Safety

looking up at a pale sandstone building

If you aren’t using horizon scanning in your site’s health and safety processes, then you might be missing out a key stage that could result in severe problems for your company. Here’s everything that you need to know about horizon scanning for food safety, and how you can put it into practice.

What is horizon scanning?

Horizon scanning is a technique which helps you to detect potential threats, or opportunities, before they arise. In order to put it into use, you have to ask yourself what is constant, what changes, and what constantly changes. These include:

  • The persistent problems that you are always having to fix, or compensate for
  • The potential problems that might come up in the future, which would be new and unexpected
  • The areas of the business which are always throwing up new problems, including trends which are continuing to higher extremes

In order to carry out horizon scanning, you have to look at your past experience and logs, your previous trends, and also research into potential for future developments. It’s a great way to get foresight about the issues you’ll need to deal with, so that you can policies into place for when they do happen.

Horizon scanning methods

There are a few different methods for horizon scanning, and you can decide which ones you put into practice. They are as follows:

  • Best-Worst Scanning: Use expert opinions and questionnaires to determine which key issues need to be prioritized, using your own pre-determined criteria (the best areas which need to be kept running smoothly, and the worst that need serious attention)
  • Delta Scanning: Using the work and papers of global experts in foresight, which you can usually find online or through governmental portals, to understand drivers and trends across your industry
  • Expert Consultation: Bringing in expert opinions from those who know about drivers and trends, often as an outsider to your company, to identify and prioritize the potential issues that have already been appearing elsewhere in the industry
  • Manual Scanning: Using a variety of sources, but in a structed way, either to explore one particular issue or to see in general what you can find. Tracking your own data over time can give a good idea for potential future issues, and you can then verify these findings via expert consultation if required

Application to food safety

It’s clear that there are a lot of uses for horizon scanning in food safety. When it comes to the use of machinery, there are lots of things that can go wrong – even if they never have before. This is not just about the safety of your workers, but also your customers: ensuring that your food products always live up to the health and safety standards required for consumption by the general public.

Horizon scanning can save you time and money in the long run, as the problems that arise in the future are dealt with efficiently and quickly. You can even create procedures to prevent them from happening off the bat.