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Research article2023Peer reviewedOpen access

Digitalization and official food safety inspections at retail establishments

Grau-Noguer, Eduard; Suppi, Remo; Rodriguez-Sanz, Maica; Serratosa, Jordi; Bolao, Assun; Lunden, Janne; Hau, Patrick; de Vasconcelos, Filipa Melo; Aberg, Riikka; Blomgren, Cecilia; Lambert, Michel; Leppik, Keidi; Vagsholm, Ivar; Kautto, Arja Helena; Lueckl, Johannes; Abeln-Richter, Sarah; Kamphausen, Rolf; Bammens, Erno; Georgiades, Filippos; Altenburgs, Janis;
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Digital technologies offer unprecedented opportunities to modernize official food safety control. Shift from paper- to digital-based systems enable recording and reporting data directly in digital format and further analyze and disclose inspection data. Further to this, digital technologies enable the automatization of processes through rule-based instructions, a fact that could positively influence the consistency of official control. Nevertheless, the extent of the use of digital technologies during official food safety control inspections by competent authorities (CAs) of European Union (EU) countries is not known. For this reason, the aim of this study was to assess the level of use of a digital environment during inspections at retail establishments. This was performed by administering a questionnaire to CAs from EU countries. A total of 88 national, regional or local CAs from 15 EU countries responded to the questionnaire. Of them, 62.5% (55/88) used a digital environment during inspections, the majority to standardize data collection and reporting. CAs autotomize processes through digital technologies related to the management of official control and generation of inspection results, but to a lesser extent to automatize decision-making during inspections. Of the CAs not using a digital environment (37.5%; 33/88), technological constraints and lack of economic resources were the two most prevalent reasons for not using such an environment. The use of digital technologies as decision support tools to standardize official controls and improve consistency and efficiency should be enhanced for the benefit of society.


Food control; Official food safety control inspection; European Union; Retail establishments; Digital environment; Digital technologies

Published in

Food Control
2023, Volume: 154, article number: 109950Publisher: Elsevier Ltd