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Explore This IssueDecember/January 2010
Trending, Analysis, and Risk Management: Collected data should be used to help a company detect minor problems before they become major ones, by applying risk management techniques throughout the food safety and quality program, with assessment of failures considered part of the overall product processing and packaging cycle.
Many companies continue to place risk techniques at the front or back part of the process, so that each department must individually track, trend, or analyze data. Progressive companies, however, are proactive rather than reactive. They implement and integrate risk techniques as part of the overall process so that the focus is on identifying and establishing priorities about potential problems. Management becomes more aware of critical problems, and each department identifies key areas that can improve efficacy and food safety.
Trending is key within an organization, helping to monitor the overall health of a company’s safety and quality systems. Measurement, data analysis tools, and processes should be implemented at different levels of the organization, with linkages between processes and safety and quality systems, and across multiple locations. Data should be configured so that problems related to suppliers, processes, or the quality system can be identified and acted upon quickly. Leverage as much information as possible to draw targets and assess effectiveness. Harmonization of sources, failures, and their root causes is essential to drawing meaningful conclusions.
HACCP and Process Automation
Re-engineering processes allows a company to get rid of all the waste and inefficiency in its systems. Automated, simple, and intuitive procedures and robust process architecture can result in quick navigation with a focus on problem solving rather than navigating the maze of paper. With automated workflow (business rules engine), notifications, and record tracking, companies can eliminate lengthy manual steps, streamline collaboration across the food value chain, and refine their HACCP approach to reduce risk and improve overall food safety. There are numerous examples of how companies can take many of the key information system components from International Standards Organization 22000 and see key results for HACCP from their process automation (see Table 1).
In summary, an automated food safety management system has several benefits:
- It achieves consistent yield and uniformity from product to product and batch to batch;
- It increases traceability, data accessibility, transparency, and reporting accuracy;
- It reduces supply chain risk and improves safety and quality;
- It reduces the necessity of multiple audits;
- It improves cycle time for key processes: SOP approvals, changes, corrective actions;
- It reduces overhead, waste, and costs;
- It ensures the food safety process is validated, verified, implemented, monitored, and managed;
- It increases trust along the entire production process for complete sustainability; and
- It increases awareness across the enterprise.
A great recipe is no longer enough. Today’s business climate requires continuous process improvement and implementation of an automated and integrated safety and quality system. A constant flow of information across the value chain can reduce the time required to diagnose and resolve problems, can prevent supplier failures, and will allow a company to meet consumer expectations. A well-designed and implemented safety and quality management system can reduce risk and improve performance and profitability. ■
Willett is vice president of marketing and regulatory affairs at Pilgrim Software Inc. Reach her at email@example.com or (813) 915-1663.