3 Ways Food Manufacturers Are Adjusting to Food Safety Changes
Food safety rules and regulations are undergoing a big, tectonic shift. Most recently, manufacturers have had to adapt to these new mandates introduced by the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). These laws turn the focus from reactive food safety measures to proactive and preventive approaches.
What does this mean for the manufacturer? It means adjusting processes and procedures in order to comply with various requirements for monitoring, testing, documentation, risk assessment and more. Regardless of the size of your operation, all of these food safety changes can be overwhelming, and you may feel like it’s impossible for the plant to keep up.
There is however no other option but to stay on top of current regulations and ensure compliance even as the industry landscape evolves. Fortunately, there are ways you can make this effort a lot simpler and keep your operation in check. In this article, you’ll uncover three important ways that food manufacturers are successfully adjusting to the myriad of food safety changes facing the industry. Learn how to embrace these transitions without major difficulty.
1. Standardize Safety Processes With Software
You can’t effectively comply with shifting food safety regulationsand keep your operation running efficiently if you don’t have standardized processes in place. Many manufacturers have found that the simplest and most valuable way to implement this standardization for their food safety is through implementation of software-assisted environmental management programs (EMPs).
The food manufacturing plant is a complex operation -- one that can pose a number of food safety challenges, reputational risks and costly outcomes. To meet these issues head on, a well-tailored software package provides a way to strengthen communication between departments, collect and assess critical data, identify food safety plan patterns, manage the scheduling of testing and preventive protocol and, ultimately, address compliance requirements.
With proper software in place, you have the ability to:
- Analyze your historical data for trending and predictive testing of control points
- Increase productivity by automating repetitive, manual processes like testing schedule setup
- Eliminate duplicate systems and documentation
- Integrate data with mission-critical systems and third-party labs
- Standardize practices and optimization across all plants
- Send email alerts on reports, actions and KPIs
- Shift key resources from one plant to another plant seamlessly
- Respond quickly when corrective actions are necessary
- Document remediations
- Verify performance and effectiveness of preventive controls
- Create reports for evaluating the efficacy of your food safety plan
2. Use Data to Meet Compliance Standards
Complying with the latest food safety changes requires much more than simply testing your finished products. That may have been sufficient in the past, but now your manufacturing plant is tasked with identifying areas of weakness in the production process that may lead to contamination or other safety issues, and then enforcing controls to minimize or eliminate those risks. The only way to achieve the kind of visibility needed to pinpoint these areas of weakness and overcome them is to place a major focus on data.
By implementing an effective EMP software package, you equip your company with valuable access to robust data that enables you to meet compliance standards. Having these data accessible 24/7 through the cloud provides three key benefits for the business in terms of maintaining compliance:
How quickly are you able to identify areas that need to be addressed in your food safety plan if you don’t have the proper data available? In fact, you may never see them … until it’s too late. Centralized data allows you to visualize your environmental results on a floor plan to determine where action should be taken. It also gives you the capacity to respond quickly with corrective actions when your environmental testing results warrant it -- sending out automatic email notifications to the relevant departments and ensuring that corrective actions are handled and documented according to your food safety plan. Plus, it keeps your compliance scheduling on track so you’re always working in a proactive fashion, not a reactive one that slows down your operations.
With modern data management approaches, food manufacturers have the potential to significantly reduce time and effort, particularly with regard to compliance audits. Preparation for an audit can be a complex, time-consuming endeavor without easy access to the necessary data. Armed with the proper organization of data, however, these efforts become immensely less difficult and tedious -- and your success rate increases.
Decisions, actions and plans regarding food safety compliance within your manufacturing plant are only as constructive and effective as the knowledge and insight upon which they are based. With the right software, you can manage your entire testing program, track all new and historical data, create audit trails and reports, make informed decisions about corrective and preventive actions and document every compliance effort. You have a clearer, more holistic picture of your food safety approach, and you can function based on tangible information.
3. Employ Quick Testing Solutions
Environmental, incoming ingredients as well as finished product testing are all vital components of your plans to reduce the risk of contamination issues and subsequent recalls. Unfortunately, many of the testing procedures out there require shipping time to a central facility and then at least a 24-hour turnaround time for results. Think about how much of your production could be impacted within that time frame; contamination is not properly quarantined, or product is shipped at risk!
This is no way to operate -- and it certainly isn’t an effective or efficient means of meeting the many food safety changes and compliance requirements challenging your plant. You should be taking advantage of fast testing solutions that enable you to significantly reduce risk and manage your food safety plan in a more efficient way. Sample6, for example, has developed the world’s fastest AOAC-approved pathogen tests for the food industry, the BioIllumination platform is designed such that it can be used directly at the plant or in a lab - depending on the preference. It enables you to get environmental Listeria swab results same day, so you don’t have to worry about the lag time between taking the test and receiving the results several days later.
With this kind of same day, on-site results, you can make food processing, shipping and sanitation decisions much more quickly. You can enforce preventive controls much more promptly. And you can reduce the risk of recall much more effectively.
Don’t let the changes in food safety and compliance overwhelm your operations and cause problems for your plant. Adopt these three approaches to ease your worries and simplify your efforts. You can begin by accessing the industry knowledge and expert insight in this free guide to solving corrective action challenges.