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Fight Food Safety Risks on 5 Key Fronts

Fight Food Safety Risks on 5 Key Fronts

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Fight Food Safety Risks on 5 Key Fronts

Jan 5, 2022

Jack Payne
A food facility worker checks safety documents.

The next time you’re getting ready to have a snack or eat a meal, will you be worried about the safety of your food? While you might recognize the risk on some level, it’s unlikely to be a top-of-mind concern for most modern consumers.

The truth is that the threat is more serious than you might realize. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), approximately 1 out of every 6 Americans get sick due to foodborne illnesses each year. Reducing the number of cases by just 1% would spare some 500,000 people from this unpleasant and dangerous experience annually.

As a food and beverage industry professional, you should be keenly aware of what this means for your business. You have a role to play in keeping your customers healthy, and you risk your brand’s reputation and profitability by not doing all you can to ensure that your products are completely fit to consume.

In this post, we’ll walk you through the five fronts on which you can fight food safety risks at your organization. We’ll also cover how enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions help you master your food safety risk management through the use of purpose-built technology.

1. Total Bidirectional Traceability

The only way you can know that your ingredients and products are free from contamination and safe to sell is by knowing where they’ve been, where they’re headed and what they may have come in contact with along the way. That takes a comprehensive approach toward traceability, which entails the ability to track specific data on your materials both backward and forward along the supply chain.

Country of origin, expiration dates, nutritional information and shipping methods are just a few of the many facts and figures that need to be logged at every stop in order to maintain a complete and accurate picture of the journey and any hazards encountered along the way. Manual methods for recording all these details are largely inefficient and prone to inaccuracies, so putting in place a smarter system is a necessity.

That’s where food ERP platforms come in. Through integrations with barcode and QR code scanners, these solutions make capturing vital product information a streamlined, automatic process. Critically, they also act as a unified interface for all the data you collect, giving your users the accessibility and transparency they need to conduct your most important traceability exercises.  

2. Complete Regulatory Compliance

Ensuring the safety of your products isn’t just a matter of protecting consumers—it’s a matter of law in most countries. In the U.S., the FDA is the chief regulatory agency, and the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) passed into law in 2011 contains the standards to which every food and beverage organization is held. In Europe, the EU has established its General Food Law, and the UK relies on their own Food Standards Agency and its key regulations.

While the employment of compliance best practices can go a long way in meeting the demands of the enforcing bodies in your regions of operation, requirements are becoming more stringent as public health remains a key topic of discourse. The FDA’s new Proposed Rule for Food Traceability, for example, aims to improve outcomes in the U.S. by introducing a new list of ingredients with higher levels of risk, as well as the concepts of Key Data Elements (KDEs) and Critical Tracking Events (CTE) for those most problematic materials.

The best way to stay within all pertinent guidelines and adhere to the provisions of legislation is to trust in a fully digital solution designed for the purpose like a food ERP. These systems automatically schedule compliance checks, and the most advanced among them—like Aptean Food & Beverage ERP—are designed with many sets of standards in mind, helping your company apply the relevant rules and remain prepared in the event of an audit.

1%

reduction in foodborne illnesses would spare 500,000 Americans from becoming sick each year

3. Assured Allergen Management

With 6 to 8% of children and 3% of adults affected by food allergies and possible reactions ranging from itching and swelling to anaphylaxis, it’s clear that extra care must be taken when the production of your items involves ingredients with allergen concerns. The FDA lists milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat and soy as the 8 major allergens, but certain kinds of seeds like sesame and mustard are also of concern, as are many other less common items.

Keeping your production lines separate and free from allergen contamination may seem manageable, but keep in mind your efforts can’t be limited to just your own facilities. Allergens can be encountered anywhere along the supply chain, so working with your partners and knowing their approaches are sound is crucial in this area.

Only a food and beverage ERP system with the built-in traceability features discussed previously can give you the level of visibility you need to ensure that no undeclared allergens come into contact with your products. These solutions also facilitate proper labeling on all of your finished goods that do contain ingredients with allergen risks, which is part of all compliance regulations and necessary for clear communication with consumers.

4. Rigorous and Regular Sanitation

Keeping your facilities clean may seem like a simple matter, but when you think about all the work that your employees and equipment put in, as well as the volume of materials that moves in and out on a daily basis, the whole concept becomes much more daunting. Simply posting some signs to remind staff to wash their hands and conducting sanitation exercises at the end of the day will not cut it.

The USDA’s Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP) methodology includes many important measures for food and beverage businesses to take to optimize your cleaning techniques and routines. A thorough, deep sanitation of all surfaces and machinery after each production run is a minimum—in addition, you should prioritize training your team members on best practices, document your overall program and ensure that your water sources are free from foreign materials and chemicals.

The right food ERP platform can aid in your efforts to maintain a clean, safe and healthy factory floor. By automating the process of scheduling your sanitation periods, a well-designed system can keep your uptime at a maximum without compromising your cleanliness, and the interface can also aid in communication and education regarding proper procedures.

6 to 8%

of children and 3% of adults are affected by food allergies every year

5. Recall Readiness

The oft-cited figure for the average monetary cost of a food or beverage product recall is $10 million—but have you considered how much damage such an incident can do to your brand and long-term viability? A Harris Interactive consumer poll found that 15% of shoppers would swear off any brand that faced a recall, and an additional 21% would stop buying not just from the brand, but the larger manufacturing entity behind it altogether.

That should make plain just what a liability a recall represents. If you’re not able to track contaminations to the source and ready to react right away as soon as an issue is identified, you’ll simply be too slow to control the movement of affected products and effectively mitigate the harm it will cause.

Again, it’s industry-specific ERP solutions that set the bar for keeping food and beverage organizations like yours prepared in the case of a food safety emergency. The aforementioned traceability tools can make finding the root of the problem a faster and simpler exercise, and the system can even automate portions of the recall process, including issuing communications to regulatory bodies and supply chain partners and flagging finished lots that will need to be discarded due to being compromised.

Accepting the Challenge and Advancing the Possibilities

Without a doubt, food safety management and the topics closely linked to it discussed here are of utmost importance for the industry at large going forward. Consumers are increasingly discerning when it comes to the expectations for the products they buy and the brands they support, and business leaders recognize this—after all, food safety and traceability was named the top focus for risk mitigation in IDC’s Global Food and Beverage Industry Trends and Strategic Insights whitepaper commissioned by Aptean.

As a food and beverage solutions provider, we recognize the potential our products have to drive better safety efforts and eliminate liabilities in our clients’ operations. That’s why we’ve leveraged decades of collective experience and thorough understanding of best practices to pack our offerings with features that keep companies confident and supply chains resilient.

We also recognize that each food and beverage organization is unique and has needs particular to their segment of the marketplace, as well as the size of configuration of their operations. Aptean Food & Beverage ERP has the tools to tackle even the toughest vertical-specific challenges, as well as the flexibility to be deployed entirely from the cloud with 99.9% uptime.

One other key differentiator is the Microsoft Dynamics 365 foundation of our systems. This keeps us on the cutting edge in terms of offering integrations with devices, applications and technologies that can improve your food safety outcomes—and lends our interface a sense of familiarity and ease of use that makes implementation much smoother.

Ready to learn more about what impact Aptean Food & Beverage ERP can have on your food safety efforts? Contact us today.

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