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Focusing on Food Safety Management for World Food Safety Day 2021

Focusing on Food Safety Management for World Food Safety Day 2021

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Focusing on Food Safety Management for World Food Safety Day 2021

Jun 7, 2021

Jack Payne
rainbow of produce

As a food and beverage professional, you know well the vital importance of ensuring the safety of your facilities, employees, products and customers. But for those outside the industry, it might not be apparent just how crucial this topic is, let alone why the United Nations established World Food Safety Day as a yearly observance in 2018.

A single statistic makes it very clear why this issue remains a hot topic and worthy of an annual reminder on the calendar. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 600 million people—about 1 in 10—fall ill after eating contaminated food, and a staggering 420,000 of those people die as a result.

With that painful truth in mind, anyone can see how critical it is that food and beverage businesses devote the necessary attention and effort to ensuring that everything that enters and leaves their supply chain is fit for consumption, properly labeled and completely traceable. The Food Safety Modernization Act of 2004 (FSMA) laid out important guidelines and made brands more accountable, but we still can’t assume that all organizations are on the same page yet in terms of implementing uncompromising safety measures.

That being said, progress toward the goal of good, risk-free nutrition for all is possible through collective action and education. With that in mind, let’s examine some of the concerns associated with food safety, some of the special considerations for certain sectors of the marketplace and how companies are tackling these challenges with technology and culture-first approach.

The Biggest Challenges in Food Safety Management

For food and beverage businesses like yours, the “to-do” list for ensuring safety may seem endless. There are many materials to monitor, processes to address, procedures to carry out and checks to complete.

Here are three of the most crucial factors to consider in your food safety management plan.

Allergens

With the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) reporting that 26% of food recalls in 2019 were due to undeclared allergens in products, it’s obvious that potentially problematic ingredients ending up in places they shouldn’t be is a major liability. It’s also a very serious threat for those who have severe reactions to these products.

In the U.S., the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004 (FALCPA), identified milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat and soy as the eight allergens that require the highest standards of labeling and control, and the Food Allergy Safety, Treatment, Education and Research Act of 2021 (FASTER) added sesame to the list. If your organization manufacturers any products that involve these foods, you absolutely must maintain strict allergen management practices from sanitation protocols to staff training on proper cleaning and prevention.

You also need total traceability of your materials in case something does go awry. With solutions like enterprise resource planning (ERP), you can drill down and see exactly which batches and lots were involved in the incident and either stop them from leaving your facilities or issue a swift recall.

Robust food ERP solutions, like Aptean Food & Beverage ERP, also assist on this front by automating certain critical steps, including the application of appropriate labels and regularly scheduled cleaning. Considering consumers’ health is on the line, the peace of mind that the platform provides can make a huge difference for businesses like yours.

Contamination

In the United States alone, there are about 48 million cases of foodborne illness each year. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has identified poultry, seafood, fresh fruits and vegetables (especially leafy greens), sprouts, raw milk and products made from it, raw eggs and raw flour as the foods most prone to causing food poisoning. This means your company must scrutinize your food safety management processes involving any of these ingredients.

In addition to rigorous sanitation, proper storage and environmental conditions are of utmost importance to prevent contamination—be that by bacteria, viruses, parasites, molds or toxins. If you’re not already taking regular checks of temperature and humidity and testing the integrity of the seals on your storage solutions, these are absolute musts for prudent prevention.

This is another area in which food ERP solutions can vastly improve your organization’s approach to controlling contamination risks. Automated checks that collect pertinent data and immediately update in your database can help your staff stay on top of any potential threats. And alerts for readings outside of tolerance ranges can facilitate quick identification and rectification of any breaches that might occur.

Splintered Supply Chains

The branching, expansive nature of today’s food supply chain is yet another complicating factor when it comes to food safety management. If your company has suppliers or partners outside your main country of operations, it becomes far more difficult to monitor your materials and control how they are handled.

Obviously, properly vetting all of the businesses that your organization works with is a critical step to take, but complete traceability of all of your materials is paramount when it comes to effectively managing a sprawling supply chain. You need to know the specifics of every stop that your goods make on their journey to and from your facilities, and you need detailed information on exactly what occurred at each stage from start to finish.

Implementing a food ERP system is really the only foolproof way to make sure that your traceability needs are met, as using manual processes opens the door for human error, memory or discrepancies to wreak havoc on the integrity of your data—and in turn, your products.

Shifting the Paradigm

We’ve already discussed some of the ways that ERP technology can serve to radically improve any food and beverage business’s safety procedures, but other features of these platforms can also assist in creating a complete safety plan. Recipe management, for instance, gives you precise control over what goes into your products and allows for the kind of fine-tuning that many formulas call for.

What’s more, the best food ERP solutions come with excellent inventory management tools, which will help you guarantee that your company operates on a “first expiry, first out” (FEFO) basis with ingredients, guaranteeing that no spoiled or otherwise invalid materials end up in the goods you ship out. The robust analytics and visualization tools these systems offer also help you identify where safety issues are cropping up most often so that you can revise your processes and head off any emergencies before they occur.

One crucially important element of food safety management that we have not yet covered, though, is company culture. Building a foundation of proactive prevention as opposed to a reactionary model is an absolute must for any brand that wants to known as a leader in mitigating risks, and investing in thorough training for all of your employees will be part of creating that kind of environment.

Whether your organization deals in farming, growing, packing, processing, manufacturing or distributing foods and beverages, you can play a part in protecting consumers and pushing the standards for risk management even higher this World Food Safety Day and in the future. You’ll be bolstering your brand’s reputation and creating a sense of trust between your company and customers at the same time, which can only have positive effects on your bottom line.

Get ready to move food safety management to the forefront by contacting us today to hear more about what Aptean’s purpose-built food ERP solutions can do for your business.

Tell us about yourself and an Aptean specialist will be in touch.