Executive Briefings

Food & Beverage: Safety and Traceability

Analyst Insight: The regulatory environment for food and beverage manufacturers is changing. President Obama has reinvigorated the FDA's Food Safety Working Group and change is on the way. It is more important than ever for food and beverage manufacturers to get ahead of the curve and ensure food safety and traceability across their entire supply chains, from the field to the fork.

To address upcoming regulatory concerns, as well as the needs of consumer's worldwide, food and beverage organizations are now beginning to "build in" compliance and traceability to production processes. In fact, a recent Aberdeen survey of over 230 manufacturers showed that top-performing organizations were over 40 percent more likely to be taking this strategic approach than other organizations. But what does it really mean to "build in" compliance and traceability.

It's a twofold strategy. First, it involves gaining understanding and control of the production processes itself. Compliance and traceability cannot be tested into a production process; it must be assured through continuous monitoring of the process itself. The first step to accomplishing this is in identifying those in-process critical-control points that can be measured and are predictive in regard to final product quality. Then, threshold levels for these critical control-point metrics must be established, i.e., if the production process critical-control point metric is within the threshold, the final product is within specification; conversely, if the production process critical-control point metric is outside of the specification, the final product will be as well. The final piece is to measure these critical-control points in real or near real time, which will allow for in-process adjustments and ultimately the assurance of finished product quality and compliance.

The second part of building in compliance and traceability comes down to the ability to recreate that which happened to a product through the manufacturing process - from the initial raw material to final product, including details on operators who worked on the product (or component that was built or mixed into product), equipment and tools used in the manufacturing process, rework that was done, and the status of production process control limits, among others. The ability to recreate manufacturing conditions and trace back from manufacturing conditions to supplier performance as well as product development significantly improves the ability of an enterprise to perform effective root-cause analysis in the event of a non-conformance, quality or recall event.

The Outlook

Moving forward, food and beverage manufacturers must automate product traceability across the supply chain. In the future, every manufacturer must have complete supplier, manufacturing and delivery data for every product at their finger tips and in real time. Incomplete, inaccurate or untimely data will no longer be acceptable.

To address upcoming regulatory concerns, as well as the needs of consumer's worldwide, food and beverage organizations are now beginning to "build in" compliance and traceability to production processes. In fact, a recent Aberdeen survey of over 230 manufacturers showed that top-performing organizations were over 40 percent more likely to be taking this strategic approach than other organizations. But what does it really mean to "build in" compliance and traceability.

It's a twofold strategy. First, it involves gaining understanding and control of the production processes itself. Compliance and traceability cannot be tested into a production process; it must be assured through continuous monitoring of the process itself. The first step to accomplishing this is in identifying those in-process critical-control points that can be measured and are predictive in regard to final product quality. Then, threshold levels for these critical control-point metrics must be established, i.e., if the production process critical-control point metric is within the threshold, the final product is within specification; conversely, if the production process critical-control point metric is outside of the specification, the final product will be as well. The final piece is to measure these critical-control points in real or near real time, which will allow for in-process adjustments and ultimately the assurance of finished product quality and compliance.

The second part of building in compliance and traceability comes down to the ability to recreate that which happened to a product through the manufacturing process - from the initial raw material to final product, including details on operators who worked on the product (or component that was built or mixed into product), equipment and tools used in the manufacturing process, rework that was done, and the status of production process control limits, among others. The ability to recreate manufacturing conditions and trace back from manufacturing conditions to supplier performance as well as product development significantly improves the ability of an enterprise to perform effective root-cause analysis in the event of a non-conformance, quality or recall event.

The Outlook

Moving forward, food and beverage manufacturers must automate product traceability across the supply chain. In the future, every manufacturer must have complete supplier, manufacturing and delivery data for every product at their finger tips and in real time. Incomplete, inaccurate or untimely data will no longer be acceptable.