What is food safety compliance & why is it so important?

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Efficiently catering to the needs of modern-day consumer demand for transparency, maintaining food safety, and meeting ever-changing regulations are major challenges for virtually all food and beverage manufacturers regardless of size. At stake are the health of consumers, damage to the brand, and exorbitantly costly recalls. Having a transparent supply chain and the ability to track and trace ingredients can provide confidence, while detailed documentation of all ingredients and processes can provide the foundation of public trust. 

Customers, consumers, and regulators all expect food and beverage manufacturers to take both a proactive and responsive approach to food safety. When something goes wrong, it’s imperative to have the processes, documentation, and tools to quickly find the root cause, identify which customers were impacted, notify regulators, and contain the issue.

What is food safety and compliance? 

The primary goal of food safety is—perhaps not surprisingly—to protect consumers from foodborne illnesses and health risks related to allergens. Because food products are for human consumption, few industries deal with regulations as complex as those of the food and beverage industry. Requirements are rigorous and the risks associated with failure are high.

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.

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Why is food safety important for food and beverage businesses? 

The US’s Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that roughly 48 million Americans get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die of foodborne diseases—every year. Foodborne illness breakouts are obviously an important public health issue, but they also represent one of the greatest financial risks that food and beverage companies face.

While the direct impact and cost of a food safety breach can be calculated, the indirect damage to a brand is much harder to quantify. Business partners, both on the supply and demand side, may start to move their business elsewhere because being associated with the issue is a potential risk for their brand. This could force a company into having to focus on survival efforts, instead of proactively developing the business.

6 key components of food safety compliance

Managing food safety compliance requirements with modern software

Supply chain transparency and traceability should be part of the overall food safety initiative—as opposed to pursuing a traceability endeavor all on its own. This level of commitment increases the odds that a company will not only make progress on traceability capabilities, it also demonstrates that the company regards lot traceability as an integral part of food safety. Everyone from the executive level to the factory floor needs to be trained and involved.

Here's how to get started on your journey towards improving food safety and compliance in your business:

1. A cloud-based, preconfigured ERP platform

To start with, determine what, if any, traceability functionality is already present in your enterprise resource planning (ERP) system. A modern, robust ERP system is likely to have this functionality already built in. Ease of use is also critical because the very people who would need it the most—internal quality assurance managers—rarely use the ERP system, and they must be able to search the database quickly. An easy-to-use interface with a graphic representation of trace lines makes it simple for them to quickly find root causes.

2. Determine data to track

Traceability is a full system that combines data collection with unique identifiers for tracking, all of which can be shared and analyzed. Determine how granular the data needs to be. The data can be tracked at a very broad level, such as capturing an individual truck load as a single lot, or at a deeper level, such as recording the day and time that pallets of fresh ingredient shipments arrive. If a manufacturer produces products that are marketed as organic, non-GMO, or free-range, the company might even choose to track ingredients at the farm level.

3. Connect the dots in the supply chain from farm to fork

Integrating these capabilities into the supply chain ecosystem requires digitally transforming the supply chain to be able to trace ingredients and products upstream and downstream across a number of suppliers, logistics providers, and partners. Integral to tracking and locating suspect ingredients and isolating problems is a reliance on the internet of things (IoT) technologies to automate the capturing of data from the supply chain and blockchain to pass on information on lot and transaction level from farming, via processing and distribution to retail.

Many food and beverage manufacturers realize that their business processes may be currently unable to support the level of supply chain transparency and food traceability required in today’s highly competitive, global market. The key to enabling and leveraging these capabilities, however, is to take advantage of the technologies that automate and simplify processes so you can focus on what matters most, providing the world with sustainable, safe food.

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Infor Food & Beverage

Simplified food and beverage industry software to transform your business

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