The food and beverage industry has recently experienced an increase in regulations. Some unfortunate food-related events led regulatory bodies to examine their internal processes and set forth initiatives to increase safety in the food production process. Many food chain stakeholders now require their suppliers to demonstrate compliance with initiatives such as safe quality food (SQF), hazard analysis and critical control point (HACCP), and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 22000 food safety management standard. An automated food safety management system (FSMS) is the best-in-class method for implementing these initiatives and for increasing safety and quality in the food chain.
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Explore This IssueJune/July 2009
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Automated systems allow organizations to measure quality more frequently and holistically than manual systems. According to a study conducted by AMR Research, 47% of organizations use fully automated systems for HACCP programs, while only 7% continue to use completely manual systems (see Figure 1, p. 34).1
HACCP is incorporated into the ISO 22000 standard and involves identifying and controlling hazards through prerequisite programs (PRPs) or critical control points (CCPs) throughout the food production and preparation processes. SQF combines HACCP and ISO processes into its certification standard and is the only food safety initiative that incorporates both safety and quality.
Many food chain stakeholders now demand that their suppliers demonstrate SQF certification because it provides assurance that the food a supplier has produced, handled, prepared, processed, and distributed has been held to the strictest food safety standards available and is of the highest quality.2 Less exacting quality or safety processes may result in recall.
A recall is an unforgiving, undesirable public relations event; therefore, a timely approach is key if prevention fails. Companies using automated systems can recall products in one third of the time it takes using manual systems.1 By incorporating HACCP, ISO 22000, and SQF processes into the FSMS, stakeholders increase quality throughout the process, ultimately decreasing the chances of a recall. In fact, companies that can analyze quality data hourly through the use of their quality management platforms are able to reduce the amount of products recalled by 10%.3
The Food Safety Supply Chain
The food and beverage industry relies heavily on supply chain planning solutions to track and manage supplier and product quality.1 An FSMS that incorporates automated supplier rating and supplier quality management adds another layer of assurance to the food safety process and helps stakeholders track suppliers, supplier compliance, supplier food safety, and supplier quality initiatives.
Food chain stakeholders using an automated FSMS are able to incorporate suppliers directly into their business processes, enabling suppliers to collaborate in related quality and safety events within the stakeholder’s system. Furthermore, stakeholders can rate their suppliers using these quality and safety events and, based on their overall rating, select the safest and highest quality suppliers for their brand. Similarly, suppliers can review their ratings and take action to improve compliance and become a preferred vendor for the stakeholder.
This automated supplier collaboration through an FSMS provides a high level of visibility into supply chain quality, faster collaboration on quality and safety events with suppliers, and continuous improvement through supplier rating systems.
A Best Practices Approach
HACCP is critical to food safety and can be implemented on its own or as part of an ISO 22000 program. For a smooth implementation, consider the following:
Conduct a Hazard Analysis: A hazard analysis allows a food chain stakeholder to identify points in the production process where a risk is likely to occur, determine risk severity, and identify control measures for significant risk. A risk assessment must also be conducted to determine severity of risk. Incorporating risk-based technology such as quantitative risk assessment or decision tree analysis enables a stakeholder to identify potential hazards within its system. The ability to track the hazard type, associate it with material type, identify the roles involved, and determine the control type to mitigate the hazard is key in providing accurate hazard analyses.