According to a report by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), approximately 48 million people become ill from foodborne illnesses in the United States each year. When it comes to food safety, reactivity simply is not enough. Preventive and traceability measures within the food manufacturing industry must be used to combat food borne illnesses.
Traceability has become a necessity in manufacturing, allowing manufacturers to provide suppliers with the data they need to ensure a product has been prepared properly, and is validated with the quality of ingredients and the accuracy of processes specified. From there, suppliers can continuously improve efficiencies and find cost savings opportunities without sacrificing safety and quality.
Traceability provides both businesses and consumers peace of mind knowing a facility is executing best practices and producing quality products.
The benefits of traceability
An increased focus on prevention and traceability benefits all parties – from consumers and food suppliers to producers and distributors.
Protecting customers. Consumers are becoming more educated and aware when it comes to food borne illnesses. When businesses establish verifiable, accountable food safety processes and methods to keep their products and brands out of the news and off the recall lists – customers become happier and more trusting.
Encouraging risk management. Food safety encourages risk management, which ensures businesses are using objective methods to anticipate and mitigate risks that could lead to contaminated food products. Implementing preventive methods that will help businesses identify potential problems upstream in the manufacturing process means you can react sooner, resulting in fewer recalls or production issues.
Improved efficiency and quality. Process control, which helps you ensure your processes result in safe food products, is a key method in prevention. This data can also help you uncover inefficient processes that, once corrected, result in safe food for consumers and improved productivity and process yield.
Optimizing traceability tools for improved productivity and cost savings
While implementing a system like this can seem daunting, there are a few critical tools that will allow a business to ensure compliance while also experiencing the benefits of a proactive food safety approach, such as improvements in process efficiency and cost savings.
- Centralized quality hub. Solving problems upstream in the production process is much harder when businesses are monitoring multiple data views across lines, plants, and sites. Siloed data makes it nearly impossible to truly know where potential problems exist, so centralizing your product quality and safety data provides increased visibility. Once data is centralized, businesses can more easily identify potential issues, and focus time and resources on solving those problems.
- Real-time statistical process control (SPC). Prevention isn’t possible if businesses are reviewing old data about products that have already come off the line or defect data with little-to-no context. With SPC data and control charts that update in real-time, businesses can catch potential problems before they result in ruined food. With increased access to manufacturing intelligence, businesses can benefit from improved processes and, as a result, better, safer food products.
- Cloud-based food safety management. Cloud-based quality management technologies offer distinct benefits for food manufacturers. For manufacturers with limited IT resources, they eliminate the burden of hardware and software maintenance while also enabling food safety prevention across the supply chain. With enterprise data views that include suppliers’ operations, suppliers can remedy potential issues before the product reaches facilities. Data visualizations and reports provide quick and easy proof of compliance in the event of an audit. With a quality management solution, food safety prevention and traceability become an embedded part of a business’ manufacturing processes.
When fully optimized, prevention and traceability in food manufacturing can have positive operational outcomes while also ensuring compliance, offering businesses an opportunity to invest in the tools that drive higher levels of manufacturing productivity and quality. With the adoption of traceability tools, businesses are empowered to make informed decisions in real-time that analyze trends, solve problems, and move the business forward.