With a solid foundation in place, quality, food safety, and traceability become more easily managed and accessed.
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Explore This IssueApril/May 2012
Cloud-based food safety management systems that deliver manufacturing operations management and a dynamic, database-driven HACCP — and can produce traceability records instantly — are taking the lead in compliance.
The FDA and USDA have adopted HACCP as the standard for risk-based quality monitoring during food production. FSMA not only mandates a preventive approach to quality for all food manufacturers but also introduces additional oversight and gives unprecedented authority to the FDA for enforcement and compliance. The ultimate goal of structured HACCP planning is to scientifically approach prevention through proactive measures, rather than the reactive approaches of the past.
The origins of HACCP can be traced to the early days of the U.S. space program and the munitions manufacturing industry’s use of failure modes and effects analysis to predict and control high-risk manufacturing processes. Over time the primary objective has remained unchanged: Identify how contaminants or hazards can enter the manufacturing process and determine the severity of the risk, the likelihood it could happen, and how likely it is the problem will be detected. These three factors determine the priority for eliminating each risk. The producer is then expected to address each identified risk and take positive action to eliminate the risk or reduce its probability as much as possible. Meanwhile, this enhanced understanding of the risks provides a baseline for formulating contingency and remediation plans should the problem actually present itself.
While creating an HACCP plan may seem simple on the surface, managing the details can become quite complex. Implementing the plan involves establishing tight control over quality, understanding when a process is operating in or out of control, maintaining extensive document control, and determining whether or not record keeping proves the food was produced safely. Simply keeping up with the plan as it changes with evolving production processes can be daunting. In most companies, all HACCP plans are managed and maintained in disconnected spreadsheets, three-ring binders, and multiple paper logbooks and HACCP checklists.
According to a recent Aberdeen Group report, best-in-class (top 20%) food processors and manufacturers are nearly 50% more likely than laggards to integrate automatically captured quality testing data with production systems. With the advancement of technology and the availability of modern FSMS, all quality, statistical process control, corrective and preventive action, record keeping, and general administrative document control functions should be database driven and fully integrated. As the production process changes, the eHACCP system should reflect those changes immediately. This ultimately simplifies risk-based quality control as most best-in-class processors have done.
Traceability: The Cornerstone
Yesterday, knowing what item you sent to whom was the extent of the requirement for traceability. In today’s world, you must know the items, the logistics path, and lot details manufacturing genealogy for every product and ingredient anywhere in your supply chain, past or present. In most cases, a manufacturer needs to produce this information within a small window of time.
While this may sound like an unrealistic expectation, the effective implementation of MOM enables manufacturers to keep pace. The disciplined use of systems with integrated traceability functions creates a real-time product genealogy for products through the capture of information on receipt, the creation of bar-coded labeling, and tracking ingredients consumed during production.
Standards organizations are working to connect manufacturers’ information beyond the four walls through programs like the Foodservice GS1 U.S. Standards Initiative and the Produce Traceability Initiative. Soon it will not only be a requirement to trace within your own business but also to provide information to a third party, connecting all links in a global supply chain of food production.
A new phenomenon has hit the software world recently. Terms like cloud computing and software as a service, often used interchangeably, are driving changes in the industry. Previously, the only option a food manufacturer had for managing software systems to help with these problems was to buy the software and hardware, hire the IT professionals to manage the infrastructure, and hope it all worked. This was very costly, especially in the low-margin business of food and beverage. But cloud computing is changing the way we do business.