The regulatory compliance requirements for food and beverage manufactures can be overwhelming. While regulations can cover all areas of a business from environmental issues to personnel, the most challenging is often around the information that must be shared with consumers as well as what can be claimed about a product. These rules vary greatly country by country and the rules keep changing.
Australian food manufacturers, for example, are currently addressing the new country of origin labelling requirements that were passed in 2016. The new law requires more specific information, including whether a product was grown or produced in Australia. For products sourced from overseas but packed in Australia the percentage of the ingredients that are from Australia in the finished product must be declared. This requires very detailed records from their suppliers and the ability to track changes in incoming specifications.
The United States has passed laws requiring new nutritional facts panels. The law is designed to make calorie counts more prominent as well as update serving sizes to be more realistic. Additionally, it includes changes in how sugars much be specified based on whether they are naturally occurring or added. Regulations are not limited to retail. The US also has legislations that require restaurants and food service establishments to provide basic nutritional information on their menus.
Not only must food companies prepare for changing regulations, but they also need to manage the all-to-common issue of changes in enforcement dates. In both US examples (new nutritional facts panel and the restaurant labelling) the effective date has often been delayed with little notice. This not only puts a burden on the food companies, especially those that have already begun the transition, but it also further confuses the public.
In addition to keeping up with compliance changes at home, companies that export their products must also satisfy the demands of each country into which they export. For example, 64 countries already require identifying GMOs on their labels—and each country has its own specific laws and definitions of GMO ingredients. For example, all food labels in the European Union (EU) must now comply with a new set of stringent regulations. Although these rules are based on international standards, there are some key differences between countries.
In addition to the compliance with mandated label information, manufacturers have the option to include other claims that promote product attributes (e.g., organic or natural). Some of these are defined by regulations, some by trade organizations and some not at all. Regardless, these claims are under constant scrutiny by government bodies, consumer groups, and competitors. Failure to substantiate a product claim can result in product recalls and brand degradation.
All of this can be overwhelming for manufacturers, especially those that rely on paper-based or manual processes to meet regulations and consumer demands. What manufacturers need is a solution that consolidates all product-related information into a single, accurate database. This is where a product lifecycle management (PLM) solution integrated with your enterprise resource planning (ERP) system becomes an invaluable business tool.
As the backbone of your manufacturing process, a PLM solution consolidates all of your product-related information—such as suppliers, raw materials, ingredients, and formulas—into a single, accurate database. With this data directly linked to your ERP system, you can help ensure that the products you produce will comply with regulations required for where the product is produced but also where it will ultimately be sold.