These days, headlines warning consumers of food recalls from prominent brands are not few or far between. From Tyson Foods pulling 36,000 pounds of chicken nugget products due to complaints of rubber contamination, to Boston Market recalling 86 tons of boneless pork rib patties for potential glass or plastic contamination, to Butterball calling back more than 78,000 pounds of raw ground turkey over Salmonella fears, there’s no shortage of reminders that food safety is an ongoing challenge. In fact, the CDC’s official list of foodborne outbreaks for 2018 was larger than any previous year shown on their website, which goes back to 2006.
Food safety risk is a top-of-mind concern for food manufacturing companies everywhere. Unfortunately, many of the people responsible for implementing and overseeing food safety protocols are continuing to follow the same old approaches and routines they’ve always relied on – and that simply doesn’t cut it anymore. To embrace a truly proactive, risk-focused, recall-preventative food safety mentality, there’s more to consider than just checking off your boxes for regulatory compliance. It’s time to go beyond the basics of your food safety program requirements.
What Do We Mean by “the Basics”?
According to the FDA, regulated facilities are required to have a Food Safety Plan (FSP) detailing “a preventive controls food safety system that provides a systematic approach to the identification of food safety hazards that must be controlled to prevent or minimize the likelihood of foodborne illness or injury.” Essentially, this is your collection of documents describing the “activities that ensure the safety of food during manufacturing, processing, packing, and holding,” which include:
- Hazard analysis to identify whether there are hazards requiring preventive control
- Preventive controls, as appropriate to the facility and the food, to ensure safe food is produced (e.g., controls for process, food allergens, sanitation, supply chain and recall plan)
- Procedures for monitoring the implementation of preventive controls, as
appropriate to the nature of each preventive control and its role in the facility’s food
- Corrective action procedures, as appropriate to the nature of each hazard and preventive control
- Verification procedures, as appropriate to the nature of each preventive control and its
role in the facility’s food safety system
But even if your organization has established protocols and behaviors that satisfy all of these requirements for compliance, you may still be missing the bigger picture and putting your brand at risk.
Why “the Basics” Don’t Suffice Anymore?
An HACCP plan and monitoring system are certainly integral to your food safety program, but they’re just the beginning. There’s more to consider in terms of protecting your company from the kind of risk that can cause irreparable damage. The overall concern must be to safeguard consumers and maintain trust in your brand. Unless you can adapt your entire food safety approach to support these priorities, you’re not poised to mitigate the wide array of potential risks.
Food Safety Program Requirements You NEED to Adopt?
Don’t make the mistake of focusing too narrowly on regulatory compliance and not broadly enough on your entire approach to food safety. To readjust your perspective and develop a more holistic program that both satisfies government regulations and prioritizes your brand, it is critical to address these food safety requirements:
Efficient, Informed Corrective Actions
Even with a comprehensive food safety approach in place, there are always opportunities for deviations from the established processes to occur. That’s what makes corrective action so important. Given the many factors and moving parts that comprise a comprehensive corrective action plan, the best course is to invest in a smart, efficient software solution that streamlines all of your corrective action functions. Corvium CONTROL-PRO has mapped the full corrective action process to its software functionality, which simplifies your efforts and significantly reduces the food safety risks posed to your company.
Any failure to correct contamination issues in your production process is apt to do more than cause serious compliance challenges; it can majorly erode trust with distributors, customers and consumers. But with a healthy corrective action process and an effective solution to support it at every juncture, you have the power to minimize risk and improve the overall quality and safety of your products.
Consumers want visibility into the handling of their foods, and the government demands transparency into contamination prevention and remediation efforts. Therefore, traceability in your supply chain is paramount. In the case of a recall, it is used to differentiate and isolate safe products from the source of the problem. With a digitally connected supply chain, manufacturers are empowered to:
- Improve supply management
- Market foods with difficult-to-detect attributes
- Maximize quality control
- Lessen recalls and related expenses
- Make distribution systems cheaper
- Increase the sales of high-value products
- Fortify food safety systems
Traceability is key in decreasing the production and distribution of unsafe or low-quality food products. Being able to record and track every step of your product’s journey from farm to fork is invaluable to both your consumers and their trust in your brand.
Widespread Transparency and Visibility
Transparency has to be default throughout your organization and across all facilities. Food safety touches every department from top to bottom, and if any one of them does not have the requisite visibility into food safety data, activities and communications, they cannot effectively contribute to your overall goals. Because your food safety systems are only as successful as the knowledge and insights on which they are based, it is imperative to implement a framework that supports:
- Visibility into your entire testing program
- Tracking of all new and historical data
- Creation of audit trails and reports
- Corrective and preventive actions based on informed decisions
- Documentation of every safety and compliance effort
- Holistic view of your plant’s food safety approach
Dynamic Recall Plan and Management
As a result of the industry’s greater focus on prevention and the government’s higher standards for evaluation, food recalls continue to rise in frequency. More advanced contamination identification efforts have led to increased positives in testing samples. And while this is great news for the evolution of food safety, it also necessitates quicker reactions.
Your brand is the collective representation of your company, and when a recall occurs, people can lose faith in its integrity. Often, news of a recall hits the public in an aggressive, damaging way and if poorly managed, it can do irreversible harm to your reputation. Consumers have been known to change their purchasing and consumption practices, rejecting a product for years after a recall, so the sooner and more proactively your organization can identify and communicate food safety issues, the more effectively you can avoid jeopardizing your brand.
Food safety software enables manufacturing companies to both pinpoint recall precursors more quickly and relay alerts and notifications immediately, saving you immeasurably on recalled product and other damage-control efforts. An investment in this kind of technology is an investment in your brand, your consumer base and your bottom line.
The truth is maintaining the status quo is no longer an option in the food safety arena. If you’re going to prevent your organization from becoming the next big headline, you have to exceed the basics of your food safety program requirements and embrace a more brand- and consumer-centered approach.
To see exactly how comprehensive food intelligence software supports your efforts to minimize risk, prevent recalls and prioritize your brand far beyond “the basics” of food safety, download this free, informative guide.