Ensuring food safety and compliance–from farm to table

spraying field

September 10, 2020By Mikael Bengtsson

The United Nations proposed 17 Sustainable Development Goals for the world in 2015, which it positions as “the blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all”—with the aim of achieving these goals by 2030. The second prioritized goal is “Zero Hunger”. To feed a world population that is estimated to grow to 10 billion by 2050, we need to ensure sustainable and safe food production systems. According to the WHO, “Governments should make food safety a public health priority, as they play a pivotal role in developing policies and regulatory frameworks and establishing and implementing effective food safety systems.”

As government agencies (and major retailers) implement increasingly stringent rules and require more detailed information, complying with these food safety regulations is becoming more complex. Maintaining food safety compliance is made even more complicated by growing risks from the globalization of food sourcing and distribution, as well as the increased likelihood of contamination and disease that rapidly spreads across borders. This reinforces that food safety and traceability are more important now than ever before—and likely to become even more important over time. Taking steps to ensure the safety of food products from raw materials to consumers’ tables must be a top priority for food and beverage manufacturers.

Although most food and beverage manufacturers continuously improve their food handling operating procedures, it’s virtually impossible to foresee every possible event that can lead to a food safety issue. And equally important to preventing these issues from arising in the first place, is swiftly and precisely handling critical situations once they do occur. Customers, consumers, and regulators all expect food and beverage manufacturers to take both a proactive and responsive approach to quality and food safety. When something goes wrong, it’s imperative to quickly find the root cause, identify which customers were impacted, notify regulators, and contain the issue.

Companies that are prepared, will be able to minimize production downtime and cost, as well as reduce damage to the brand. A product recall is a reactive measure and does not bring the organization forward—except to potentially learn from the issue to avoid an even bigger recall in the future. Most times, there’s no advance warning that a recall is going to occur, and any recall an organization experiences can be “the one” to bring down the whole company. This has happened before, and will likely happen again. Being a step ahead is the only viable option.

It doesn’t take much to nullify a company’s traceability efforts. For instance, if a specific lot is allocated for production, transfer, or shipping, but another lot is pulled instead and that change isn’t entered into an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, the company’s tracking is now inaccurate.

Full visibility and transparency into the entire supply chain will help expedite a recall process and prevent contaminated products from reaching consumers—a safeguard that can protect a brand’s integrity, consumer confidence, and bottom line. A modern traceability solution will address these issues with precision by providing detailed information to quickly isolate and recall all finished goods and raw materials associated with any suspected product quality or safety issue.

To learn more about how to ensure food safety and compliance across the supply chain, download the best practices guide “Benefits of improving supply chain transparency in modern food and beverage manufacturing”.

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