Food Safety Compliance: Can I Track Production Across All Food Plants?
The short answer? Absolutely. In fact, tracking production across all of your food processing plants is a critical component of food safety compliance, recall prevention and brand preservation. What’s more, it does NOT have to consume your resources or cause major impediments to your daily production goals IF you understand how to leverage the proper technology.
There’s no denying the fact that advancing technology is quickly permeating every area of life and business. Over the years, it has made remarkable strides in transforming operations, strategies and outcomes, as well as creating unprecedented efficiencies and elevating outdated processes to faster, more streamlined ones. The advantages reaped from technology are no less apparent in the world of food safety compliance and recall prevention. Automation and innovation have just about upended the tables on traditional approaches for food manufacturing companies.
What often keeps food safety managers up at night is the reality that there are immeasurable opportunities for product quality and safety risks at any point in the processing journey. This holds true at just one production facility, let alone multiple locations. The good news is that your organization can effectively manage non-conformances and food safety compliance across all plants by recognizing and embracing the power of technology. Here’s what you need to know to get started.
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Technology Breeds Food Safety Transparency
The food and beverage industry continues to evolve in response to consumer needs, regulatory requirements and operational realities. Today, there is an abundance of technology to accommodate emerging needs, and manufacturers are challenged to identify the most valuable options. At the center of this selection process is the critical concept of transparency.
Technology has made it possible to gather information from as far back in the food chain as the farming fields. From sensors for air, soil, equipment, livestock and crops, to the monitoring of crop gases throughout the ripening process, spectral imaging for plant health and even pathology detection, these innovations significantly impact manufacturers’ efforts to maintain a commitment to food safety.
Because traceability is key to minimizing the production and distribution of unsafe or low-quality foods, it’s incredibly important for plants to record and track every step of the product’s journey from farm to fork. You must be able to elicit successful outcomes based on data management, communication and accessibility features that all focus on supporting powerful transparency – across the supply chain and spanning every facility within your organization.
It’s no misnomer that developing a comprehensive, dynamic food safety and compliance program can be an overwhelming effort, especially when more than one plant is involved. Managing testing processes, tracking data points, fostering quick and accurate communication of results, taking corrective actions and implementing verification activities are all critical components of a compliant and successful plan.
To this end, it is essential to promote organization-wide transparency. Innovative technology can eliminate the need for manual, time-consuming and error-prone processes, equipping users to tackle food safety challenges head on. Smart food safety software like CONTROL offers dynamic capabilities, such as:
Visualizing control points on intuitive floor plans
Quickly identifying locations and patterns within each facility’s food safety plan
Communicating effectively between plants, departments and management levels
Automating notifications and alerts
Systematizing the scheduling of preventative controls and testing
Easily accessing all sampling data, testing results and corrective action records
Technology Streamlines Food Safety Documentation
Today’s manufacturers face a time of heightened regulation, and with stricter enforcement comes greater requirements for documentation. From facility registrations and foreign supplier verifications to food safety plans and sanitary transportation data, everything must be recorded, updated and secured in a highly structured way. As a result, technology has become more integral to the management of food safety and compliance, both within each plant and across a spectrum of facilities.
Consider your current record-keeping procedures, and ask yourself:
Are your teams struggling to manage the documentation process?
Is data falling through the cracks?
Are disorganized, manual processes slowing things down or resulting in incomplete files?
Are you and your teams scrambling to assemble reports?
Are you noticing gaps or inaccuracies in the findings?
Any failure to maintain a robust audit trail history and active, timely reporting is going to negatively impact the safety of your product, the success rate of your compliance audits, the risk of experiencing a recall and the overall stability of your operations. Simply put: If it’s not being measured and shared in a standardized way, it can’t improve.
It’s time to abdicate the old-school documentation methods involving paper, notebooks and Excel spreadsheets. They’re highly prone to resulting in lost or misplaced documents, disorganized filing systems, mounting piles of paper, a lack of storage options, tedious reporting tasks and inadequate compliance documentation. If you’re managing food safety compliance in more than one plant, these tactics create an even bigger headache.
A cloud-based software program that manages all data and workflows through one centralized database across the enterprise unlocks your data and enables everyone within the organization to interact with it. Your team can finally move away from repetitive, manual processes and spend more time on critical analysis of food safety and compliance data, which powerfully informs your strategic decision-making process and streamlines your audit preparation efforts across all facilities.
It’s easy to lose control over multi-location documentation in the midst of an evolving compliance landscape and a wide array of plant responsibilities. But you don’t have to stay overwhelmed and noncompliant. As the food safety industry has changed, so has innovation. By adopting a modernized system, you can equip your company with the controls it needs to fulfill all of your food safety requirements.
Technology Supports Food Safety Automation
When a food safety compliance program consists of labor-intensive processes riddled with gaps in communication, every facility in the organization is vulnerable to experiencing severe operational challenges. There’s only one way to overcome those hurdles, and that’s with automation. Here are a few critical reasons why:
Multi-Plant Process Improvement
You can’t keep up with shifting food safety regulations and operational efficiency unless you have streamlined processes in place. All locations, departments, functions, schedules and data must be tightly managed if you have any chance of overcoming food safety risks. Automated controls and workflow management software equip your organization to strengthen communication; collect, assess and report on critical data; manage testing schedules; prepare for audits and respond quickly when corrective actions are warranted.
At its best, food safety is a wholly shared responsibility across every facility, from top-level stakeholders to maintenance, QA and the lab. A fully automated system empowers each entity to gain a strong understanding of food safety and take part in risk management by supporting:
Easy access to an organized database of policies, workflows and reporting
A way to seamlessly exchange information
Features to support scheduling, standardization and compliance
When it comes to ensuring quality and safety, control is key. You must be able to detect and control all aspects from personnel cleanliness and hygiene to equipment sanitation protocols, temperature requirements, chemical reactions, ingredient mixing and package storage. For every component of your quality and safety plan, there must be a verification process, documentation, evaluation, reporting and more. Without the control that automation provides, your efforts to meet these needs are rendered far less effective.
To implement the appropriate and necessary steps for monitoring, corrective action and verification, you must be able to access and evaluate collected data. Automated reporting helps you stay on the pulse of your operation, enabling early detection and action based on tracking and trending of quantitative and qualitative testing data, pathogenic and hygienic testing data, and indicator organisms, allergens, toxins and residue.
Bottom Line Savings
Revenue plummets, expensive food recalls, wasted investments, reputational damage and even business failure are some of the prices paid for lack of automation in your food safety practices. These are serious financial reasons to make automated preventive controls and workflow management software a high priority.
At the end of the day, automation transforms your schedules, corrective action workflows and reporting practices, and each plant benefits from enormous productivity savings per individual. Plus, audit performance is improved, all with less strain on your resources. There’s no reason to cling to outdated food safety compliance approaches when technology can dramatically improve every component across all of your facilities.
So let’s circle back to the initial question at hand: Can I track production across all food plants?
Answer: When you embrace food safety technology in its most dynamic form, YES, you most certainly can.
To get a closer look at the cloud-based, comprehensive food safety solution that supports multi-plant responsibilities and significantly minimizes risk, download your free CONTROL guide now.
Get Your Free Food Safety Software Guide
CONTROL: Simplify Your Food Safety ComplianceDownload Now
About David Hatch
Dave Hatch has spent over 30 years solving data management, information security and analytics challenges across multiple industries, including food/beverage, healthcare, publishing, manufacturing and financial services. As Chief Strategy Officer at Corvium, Dave focuses on the emerging digital transformation occurring in the food industry, and its impact on the advancement of food safety programs across the food supply chain.
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