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Observing World Food Safety Day: 4 Ways to Reinforce Your Efforts

Observing World Food Safety Day: 4 Ways to Reinforce Your Efforts

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Observing World Food Safety Day: 4 Ways to Reinforce Your Efforts

Jun 7, 2022

Jack Payne
Food facility workers practice proper safety procedures.

Today’s date marks the fifth official World Food Safety Day. This international observance was first established by the United Nations General Assembly in 2018 and backed by a 2020 resolution from the World Health Assembly to further strengthen global efforts on the critically important front of reducing foodborne illnesses.

This year’s theme of “safer food, better health” is particularly relevant considering two high-profile food safety emergencies occurred in the United States in May 2022, the first involving General Mills’s Lucky Charms cereal and the second forcing a recall of select Jif peanut butter products due to a potential salmonella contamination.

The statistics demonstrate the toll that incidents like these take everyday on people around the world. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), some 600 million individuals fall ill after eating contaminated food each year—and children under 5 carry a disproportionate part of the burden, with 40% of cases and 125,000 deaths in that demographic annually.

That alone is likely enough to make you wonder whether your food and beverage business is truly doing all it can to protect your end consumers, and World Food Safety Day certainly makes for a logical point in time to revisit your organization’s approach to this vital matter. Here, we’ll take a look at 4 ways to drive better food safety outcomes and preparedness in emergency situations.

1. Ensure Strict Regulatory Compliance

Governments across the globe are stepping up their food safety regulations, and with good reason considering the figures above. In the U.S., the standards established by the Food Safety Modernization Act in 2011 are being revised as part of the FDA’s New Era of Smarter Food Safety, and the Proposed Rule for Traceability would put the onus on manufacturers to maintain greater transparency and visibility of all their materials.

Meanwhile, the European Union last year bolstered its General Food Law with Regulation (EU) 2019/1381 regarding the use of additives and flavorings, and the Food Standards Agency (FSA) in the UK recently set out its official strategy for the next five years focused on providing consumers with “food you can trust.” Put it all together, and it’s clear that food safety is of the utmost importance in order to avoid fines, penalties and possible closure of your facilities.

That’s why it’s vital that your company adheres to all pertinent local regulations and can prove compliance in case of an audit. An industry-specific enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution can serve an integral role in fulfilling this mission, providing you with bidirectional tracking capabilities and modules that ensure all checks are carried out and requirements are satisfied before products are dispatched.

2. Manage Allergens Effectively

Undeclared allergens represent one of the most significant food safety risks, with more than 220 million people affected by sensitivities globally and symptoms ranging from mild discomfort to life-threatening cases of anaphylactic shock. In the U.S. alone, approximately 200,000 individuals require emergency medical care for allergic reactions to food annually.

The first step in combatting this issue is knowing the most problematic ingredients. The FDA originally identified the eight major offenders—eggs, wheat, dairy, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish and soy—and sesame is frequently tacked on to the list by other health organizations. The FSA has also flagged celery, mustard, lupin and cereals containing gluten as additional materials to treat with care.

The robust traceability features of a purpose-built platform like Aptean Food & Beverage ERP are what your company needs in order to maintain lock-tight allergen management within your operations. By importing information from your supply chain partners and keeping tabs on all surfaces and equipment with which your products come in contact, such a system can help you keep the chance of a contamination to a minimum.

200,000

individuals in the U.S. require emergency medical care for allergic reactions to food annually

3. Establish a Comprehensive Recall Plan

While your business is likely motivated to avoid product recalls as much as possible—the average cost of $10 million represents a substantial financial outlay, and that’s without getting into the damage to your reputation and lost value in future sales—it’s important to recognize that they are at times unavoidable. That being said, the more prepared your organization is before emergencies arise, the better you’ll be able to mitigate the detrimental effects.

The first step in establishing a solid recall plan is to form a core team that will focus on preparation and be ready to jump into action should an incident occur. The members of this group should come together and outline the steps to take in the case of a contamination, including isolation of the affected products, tracking back to the source and physically withdrawing and disposing of compromised items that are still within your facilities.

ERP software built for the food and beverage industry can be an invaluable asset in managing the recall process and ensuring that you’re able to act with agility when time is of the essence. A good solution can automate certain actions, including the generation of necessary documentation and the issuance of key communications to clients downstream and enforcement agencies.

4. Seek Food Safety Certifications for Your Facilities and Staff

One final measure to consider is pursuing food safety certifications through third-party audit services. This goes for both your physical facilities where you process and manufacture food and beverage products, as well as your employees—there is no shortage of options, and which will serve your company best will depend upon your circumstances and location.

Some of the most widely accepted certifications are those associated with Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP), Safe Quality Food Institute (SQF), BRC Global Standards (BRCGS), the International Organization of Standardization’s ISO 22000 and the Foundation Food Safety System Certification's FSSC 22000.

Individual team members—especially those in leadership roles—should look into obtaining their Food Handlers Card, Food Safety Manager designation or any of the well-regarded ServSafe certifications. In the U.S., other programs administered at the state level may also be useful for educating and preparing your personnel for the complex and crucial task of maintaining excellent food safety.

There’s So Much More to ERP

We’ve pointed out several times in this post how an ERP platform can power thorough and reliable food safety procedures, but it’s worth briefly exploring how these systems can serve as an ideal foundation for a holistic digital transformation. By acting as a “single source of truth” across departments within your business, a food ERP facilitates collaboration, promotes visibility of information and helps prevent data duplication and rework.

Advanced offerings—like our own aforementioned Aptean Food & Beverage ERP—also come with purposefully designed features for other areas of focus, including inventory and expiration management; financial analysis; recipe formulation; and quality assurance. The best even come with sector-specific functions for catch weight, consignment tracking and more.

An additional advantage of our solution is the availability of flexible cloud deployments on a software as a service (SaaS) model, which optimizes your organizational agility and provides employees with mobile access for their on-the-go lifestyles. We also offer support via dedicated IT teams and robust industry-specific technology built on an underlying Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central platform.

So, ready to hear more about Aptean Food & Beverage ERP and how it can help your organization tackle the challenge of ensuring food safety? Contact us today, or schedule a personalized demo.

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