I’ve long been a proponent that the Food Safety Modernization Act is an opportunity for the industry, not a threat. Katie Beissel, Global Industry Manager – Food and Beverage, GE Intelligent Platforms agrees. In her article titled Planning for FSMA Compliance posted on Manufacturing.net she writes:
FSMA and other regulations should be viewed as an opportunity for food manufacturers to adopt a more holistic approach to solving food quality and safety concerns. One of the many benefits of FSMA compliance will be increased visualization and control over the manufacturing processes and supply chain. This ability reaches far beyond compliance and can benefit many different aspects of food manufacturing by increasing productivity, improving lean manufacturing processes and developing automated control systems.
She encourages the industry to gain clarity on the new regulations and understand how they impact food safety, risk prevention and reporting and recommends that “Producers must have in-depth visualization of the entire supply chain with the ability to quickly identify and mitigate problems before or just after they occur.”
Accomplishing this requires better data about what is happening in the supply chain from harvest or manufacture through to the retailer. Knowing the condition and history of the product from field or factory to fork is essential and traditional monitoring techniques are quite simply lacking the chops to proactively address FSMA requirements – simply put, they’re inadequate, slow and cumbersome.
Beissel cites what I consider three “abilities” to focus on:
- The ability to recall products from the market faster. The emphasis is on speed and accuracy of the notification of the FDA of a recall, which means manufacturers need to be able to quickly diagnose and act upon problems anywhere in the supply chain. Producers must, at a minimum, understand the size of the recall, what happened, where the product was produced and what steps to take.
- The ability to prevent bad quality product from reaching the public. In line with the ability to recall products faster, food manufacturers are now required to follow current good manufacturing practices (cGMP) and use hazard analysis and critical control point processes (HACCP) when developing their food quality safety programs. These new requirements are an attempt to prevent bad quality products from reaching the public and must be readily available for FDA inspection and review at any time.
- The ability to keep key quality records longer. Key quality data is now required to be kept on record for two years, allowing the FDA to review more of the process issues and the producers’ reactions to them. Previously, these key quality records were only required to be on file for 90 days.
Pallet-level temperature data loggers provide these abilities. Data about the harvest, manufacture and condition of products can be collected and stored directly on the tag with the product as it moves through the supply chain. Data can also seamlessly be shared via the cloud to speed recalls. Actionable data about the product’s condition can help prevent bad quality and reduce spoilage. Data on the tags – and more importantly shared in the cloud or stored in ERP systems – makes it easier to store and access the data.
Sounds like a great opportunity to improve food quality and safety, address regulations and even improve profitability and customer satisfaction.
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