Food Safety, it Can Build or Break a Business

Posted by on Jul 22, 2015 3:55:59 PM


In order for restaurants, grocers and food suppliers to maintain a solid reputation, they need to make sure they are properly managing their supply chain, especially when dealing with perishable items. There are several ways that supply chain managers can be sure everything is running properly, and implementing the proper data collection procedures is a crucial part of this process.

There are on average 3 unique food products recalled by the FDA every single day.

One of the ways to improve supply chain management is to set standards for products ahead of time. By establishing guidelines for the products and specifying what is needed from the supplier with regard to product codes and units of measure, restaurant owners, grocers and others in the food industry will be able to facilitate and track products efficiently and with ease. Another important factor is to ensure that there is a specific hub that will contain all of the relevant tracking information regarding the product data.

“Build a centralized data repository that contains the standardized data reviewed above, along with test results and other data collected during production and inspections,” the news source suggested. “Define an entity for each measurement and specify the linkages between test results, operators, processes and time stamps. This will enable full traceability – forward and backward – easily meeting [Food and Drug Administration] regulations.” - Michael Lyle

As more consumers become interested in supporting companies that have a specific reputation, developing and maintaining a culture of quality is important for stakeholders at every level of the food service industry.

There are 5 key steps that food companies can take to avoid food recalls, and respond to a recall in an efficient manner to mitigate damage to their brand. 

1. Set standards for quality

Every employee should understand the importance of quality to the business. Sometimes this importance is hard to quantify in the short term, so there needs to be a culture centered around quality to ensure that only the best products are sold. 

2. Automate the collection of data

Establish guidelines that will standardize data such as product codes, units of measure, bills of material, specifications, process parameters and lot numbering to plants and suppliers. This can be done with the help of food distribution software and is necessary to ensure normalization of data across functions, processes and suppliers. Access to global standards should be controllable, easily accessible and readily deployable across production facilities and supply chain partners.

3. Establish a global hub

Develop a centralized data repository, make sure to define an entity for each measurement and specify the linkages between test results, operators, processes and time stamps. This will enable full traceability, efficiently meeting FDA regulations. A global hub also preserves data integrity, establishes the system of record and sets parameters to support continuous advancement programs.

4. Establish real-time visibility

Technology such as RFID can increase inventory accuracy to 99.9%. Adopting an RFID-based inventory system would allow food distributors and retailers to always know where a product is in the case of food recall. To go beyond this, a food product can be tagged at harvest to ensure full knowledge of its history and potential contamination sites. 

5. Establish KPI's (Key Performance Indicators)

This will establish a scorecard that includes product quality metrics for ingredients, intermediates, and finished product, along with process quality metrics that monitor the performance of various pieces of equipment throughout production. Provide training and open communication for KPI goals and work with managers and partners to ensure that these metrics are included into departmental objectives and supplier agreements.

By adopting smart data collection practices, organizations in the food industry will find it easier to meet government food safety compliance thresholds and win increased business while avoiding the costly and damaging prospect of a recall. As well as catering to a class of consumers that with each year become increasingly more interested in where their food came from and that it is from a reputable source.

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Topics: RFID, Asset Tracking

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