In the food manufacturing world, plant and quality assurance managers are no stranger to the struggles of overworked employees, strained resources, interruptive audits, tracking snafus and testing pressures. You’re tasked with managing multiple systems at once because each one focuses on a different manufacturing need, and there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. But you don’t have to keep spinning your wheels to stay on top of critical quality and safety issues or mitigate the risk of a costly recall.
Food safety-related incidents have hit record highs in the U.S. in recent years, according to Global Finance magazine. With costs per case averaging $10 million or more, as well as stricter government oversight, there’s no room for companies to let safety standards slip through the cracks. That’s why quality management systems (QMS) are often leveraged to meet evolving demands. Yet, it’s important to understand that even though your QMS offers a number of benefits, it may not provide all the features your operation requires to avoid a food safety recall.
A poor food safety quality management system is a catalyst for recalls. If your system lacks the necessary visibility to monitor corrective actions, as well as the automated reports to prepare for ongoing audits, it’s inhibiting daily efforts and overall outcomes for the company. Check out these five reasons why an inadequate QMS elevates your recall risk, and take advantage of expert insight on how you can manage this risk in a smarter, more streamlined way.
1. Lack of Document Control
From your HARPC and SSOPs to testing results and audit trails, documentation within your operation is paramount. The process of ensuring food safety at every stage of manufacturing — from the supply chain to delivery — requires optimal recordkeeping and document control. An improper level of organization and access to this information is quite simply an invitation for chaos.
The key word here is “prevention.” Preventing a food recall means preventing ineffective or inefficient instances of food safety enforcement, and you know firsthand that this is a complex, time-consuming feat. Lags and missteps in your documentation process deteriorate your food safety standards, a problem no plant or QA manager has the luxury of ignoring. If your quality management system doesn’t offer all of the necessary features to support strong documentation control, it’s a significant part of the problem.
Proactive food safety can be achieved when you leverage a solution that eradicates the potential for documentation chaos. A prevention-centered food safety quality management system delivers the capabilities to:
- Streamline documentation efforts
- Foster transparency and visibility across the plant
- Easily control document administration and accessibility
- Unify documentation between departments
- Facilitate the audit process and comply with regulatory requirements
- Eliminate redundancies and inefficiencies
Ultimately, it’s important to rely on a system that makes your job (and that of your workers) less — not more — stressful than it already is. Minimize the recall risks that cause costly collateral damage by evaluating the true value of your QMS and determining whether your company requires a smarter solution.
2. Slow, Ineffective Record Archiving
A successful food safety plan is contingent upon having a continuously thorough recordkeeping effort. A lack of logical data archiving, comprehensive audit trail history or active reporting is bound to have ripple effects that impact the safety of your product. If you’re working tirelessly to keep the archives organized and up to date, you’re not utilizing the kind of food safety quality management system that makes this responsibility tremendously simpler.
Your operations and your people don’t stop moving, so your recordkeeping can’t either. Manual processes and/or a subpar QMS don’t enable your data tracking efforts to stay on pace with your daily food safety efforts, and your team doesn’t have time for that. They need a solution that speeds up the process and bridges the gap between action and archival.
At such a time of heightened regulation for the industry as a whole, it’s essential to ensure that your systems are sufficient to meet newly emerged expectations for compliance. Unfortunately, far too many processing plants are not properly prepared for an audit, often allowing the responsibility of routine operations to overshadow laborious recordkeeping and auditing needs.
Today, there is greater accountability for food safety on your shoulders — and more opportunities for recalls to occur. The best way to address these challenges is to prioritize the implementation of a high-quality software solution that makes record archiving and reporting a less manual, tedious, slow and inhibiting process.
3. Disjointed, Insecure Document Storage
Whether you’re implementing a food safety plan across one facility or many, there’s a lot of information to be stored, communicated, retrieved and reported on. This means there are multiple people inputting and accessing critical data related to your contamination prevention and compliance efforts. Whenever there are that many hands in the pot, it’s paramount to enforce document controls that keep the information secure and standardized.
Does your quality management system give you the power to assign accessibility rights to certain individuals? Does it enable testing and operational data to be entered in a uniform, templated way? Does it feature automated notifications and alerts that can be relayed instantly to designated recipients? These types of capabilities help ease the burden of data mishandling, mismanagement and misalignment.
Think of your food safety documents and information as the cogs in your risk-reduction machine. You need to keep these components functioning in top shape if you want to mitigate the major costs and challenges that follow a food recall. Don’t let a poor quality management system sabotage your food safety initiatives. Make sure you’re using a solution that protects those cogs and keeps your manufacturing operation running smoothly.
4. Dysfunctional Paper Filing
The majority of manufacturers in the food and beverage industry are still using outdated, manual food safety processes to some degree. If you’re relying on paper-based systems to record, file and store food safety data and documents, you’re probably feeling the pain of diminished resources, impossible time constraints, frustrating storage limits and stressful audit preparation activities. Your food safety plan is vulnerable to experiencing:
- Lost or misplaced documents
- Disorganized filing systems
- A mounting pile of paper
- Lack of storage options
- Tedious reporting tasks
- Failure to provide adequate compliance documentation
- Extra costs and man hours
Now is the time to leave these inefficiencies and headaches behind. Given today’s modern technological advancements, increased government pressure, more informed and discerning consumer base, social media-driven markets and massively shifted industry landscape, you can no longer continue to approach critical food safety needs with paper-based methods. You need a smart, cost-effective, cloud-based solution that eradicates the chaos of manual effort and minimizes the risk of recall occurrences.
Consider the advantages you stand to gain with a system that features:
- Automatic scheduling and monitoring properties
- Holistic plant visualization through color-coded floor plans
- Immediate, accurate communication between departments
- Customized and detailed workflows
- Robust reporting
- Functional checklists for effective change management
- Digital, efficient means of documentation, archival and auditing preparation
What used to require excessive time and manpower to manage via paper-based methods and cumbersome monitoring strategies has been revolutionized through digitization. Labor-intensive processes for ensuring food quality and safety are now highly automated. In fact, implementing comprehensive software is no longer a luxury, but rather a necessity to protect your brand.
5. Crippled Improvement Process
You know better than anyone that every food safety decision, action and plan that unfolds throughout the course of a day is only as effective as the data upon which it is based. So if your quality management system doesn’t deliver up-to-date, accurate information in a straightforward, comprehensive way, you’re operating blindfolded and with your hands tied behind your back.
What value can be garnered from labor-intensive efforts to document and sift through food safety data if it can’t be accessed and leveraged properly to improve your processes? A genuine focus on prevention — the kind that proves effective at averting devastating food recalls — requires fact-based insight. Insight like that can only be realized with a top-notch food safety QMS with intelligence that facilitates:
- Creation of detailed audit trails
- Informed decisions about corrective and preventive actions
- Generation of industry-standard and customized reports
- Ability to review results in the floor plan to see patterns or gaps
- Use of a comprehensive filtering engine to segment your data
- Comparison of results between multiple plants, for different programs, at any point in time
You have an obligation to ensure the safety and quality of your products. Whenever a failure to meet that obligation occurs within your process, it is essential to collect that information and take advantage of it to the fullest. For any multi-department, multi-system operation to enable the kind of powerful communication and visibility that’s needed to achieve this level of process improvement, first-rate tracking and reporting is vital.
The Path to Food Safety CONTROL
With all of the friction that typically follows reliance on a poor quality management system, there’s real motivation to reassess your reality. You’re in a position that requires smart strategies and proven methods of success. You CAN attain the kind of control over your food safety and quality program that diminishes the threat of a food recall.
Innovative technology like the CONTROL-PRO software puts that power at your fingertips, with focused features that support:
- Powerful scheduling
- Visual monitoring of your entire plant
- More accurate analysis
- Automated reporting
- Document security
- Dynamic communication
- Visibility for cross-functional transparency
- Efficiency and organization
Learn more about the role that a superior food safety QMS plays in solving corrective action challenges and reducing the risk of a recall. Download your free guide now.