When companies talk of compliance, they refer to businesses meeting all the rules and regulations that cover all aspects of product development and sale. Safe and sanitary production, quality packaging, proper labeling, safe storage, and transport are a few of the areas where businesses need to be compliant.
In the Food & Beverages industry, compliance is of extreme importance because of the nature of the manufactured products. Food and beverages directly affect the health of the consumer. Businesses have a moral obligation to be aware of what goes into the production and sale of the products.
What happens when businesses ignore compliance regulations?
- They tend to make mistakes which otherwise would have been avoidable
- It results in a huge percentage of product recalls
- Businesses can be barred from engaging in manufacturing or trade
- Product lifecycle is shortened because of product failure
- Businesses are unable to anticipate and respond to potential problems
Research has shown that more than half the product companies do not have any global performance metrics or systems to check for product compliance. Additionally, many of these businesses lack knowledge about the legal, environmental and technical regulations that govern the product they are manufacturing. This is especially true of the Food & Beverages industry, where new standards of compliance are brought into force on a regular basis.
SpecPage’s SpecPDM is a platform that is revolutionizing the way the Food & Beverages industry assimilates the information needed during the product development stage. Acting as a central storage that contains information about product specifications, the SpecPDM supports all R&D and labeling activities. The platform gives product developers and regulators access to compliance regulations across the world, helping them meet product compliance requirements. SpecPage Compliance Guide comprises of more than 5 million terms from over 90,000 food and beverage regulations and compliance standards across 207 countries worldwide. This will help industry users ensure their product recipes and specifications comply with global regulatory requirements, including information on additives, nutritional values, packaging, contaminants, and Identity Standards.
Compliance starts with product development
Businesses need to keep in mind that every process and procedure they utilize during the actual design and development stage needs to be compliant with market regulations. In fact, in the USA, the Food and Drug Administration is not responsible for product safety and sanitation. Individual businesses are expected to have proper systems in place during production.
In the Food & Beverages industry, there are three basic factors that affect product compliance:
Businesses will only be able to meet compliance standards if and only if employees are trained to identify deviations. Secondly, employees need to be trained to leverage the ERP system that the business has in place.
Processes and procedures
Having the relevant metrics and measurements in place will help companies track the success of the processes and procedures they are implementing.
Sequencing and scheduling
Workflow management, machine scheduling and using lean practices can help businesses avoid bottlenecks during production and help prevent mismanagement in resource utilization.
SpecLIMS, the comprehensive Laboratory Information and Management System by SpecPage helps automate laboratory processes and workflows. This user-friendly platform helps meet quality, budgetary and regulatory compliance requirements during the manufacturing stage.
During the production phase, businesses use a variety of materials. Some of these may be environmentally-friendly and others may be hazardous. The EHSA by SpecPage is an enterprise-wide platform that businesses use to track the usage of hazardous materials. From details about the quantity used to information about suppliers, the EHSA contains a comprehensive report about various hazardous materials. The EHSA is helping businesses engage in responsible manufacturing practices.
Impact of legal practices on product compliance
Many countries are updating their existing Food & Beverages industry laws. For example, the new Safe Food for Canadians Act seeks to improve food safety by imposing tougher restrictions and penalties on businesses whose products pose a health risk to consumers. They intend to do this by making registration of establishments mandatory and by controlling imports.
The EU also has the General Food Law, which states that all people must have access to safe and wholesome food. Regulators intend to impose controls on registration of establishments, imports, procurement of raw materials, manufacturing, packaging and sale of food.
In an attempt to harmonize its food laws with the EU, Switzerland has revised its General Food Law. Now, a product can be introduced to the Swiss market provided it is safe and compliant with general Swiss food provisions such as labeling, additives, and contaminants.
Similarly, the Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) governs the Food & Beverages industry in Australia. The regulations set by the FSANZ don’t just govern manufacturers, they also cover suppliers, retailers, and restaurants. Compliance issues related to food labeling and food tampering are primary concerns of the FSANZ.
Compliance in a changing world
Changes in the political and legal system of a country can create some challenging situations for businesses. Take the UK’s exit from the EU as an example. Post-Brexit impact on the Food & Beverages industry in the UK has been tremendous. While the multiple trade models being considered – from the Norway model to the WTO legislations – do focus on product compliance, actual implementation can be tricky. How organizations handle a situation such as this will determine the success of products in the market, for existing and new products alike. Businesses will need to work with suppliers and distributors to ensure that compliance regulations are met from start to finish.
This creates a need for a platform that enables businesses to integrate product information in a single place. The Global Data Synchronization Network (GDSN) is a global database that brings together thousands of companies from the global Food & Beverages industry. There, businesses can find information about various product specifications, from ingredients used to information about product tracking.
Businesses who use the GDSN also recommend using other software and data integration tools to better leverage the power of technology in food and beverage manufacturing. SpecPage handles various tools which cater to the specific requirements of individual stakeholders in the global Food & Beverages industry.
The Supplier’s Guide is a tool that allows suppliers to provide important product specifications and attach important documents to a global repository. These specifications and certificates help businesses maintain product compliance at the production level, by helping them choose compliant suppliers.
SpecPage also provides the Buyer’s Guide, which is a collection of web-based product catalogs, but is also available in a fully responsive mode on any mobile device. These catalogs contain important information about the final product. Distributors and retailers will have access to this information, enabling them to trade with product complaint companies, thereby ensuring their own compliance.
Keeping the customer in the loop
Compliance works only when keeping the customer in mind. By involving consumers, businesses can make sure to keep customers informed about the practices they use. The Buyer’s Guide by SpecPage allows consumers to get in-depth information about the products they intend to consume. With its articles, videos, and ingredient lists, the Buyer’s Guide now makes it easier for buyers to make informed decisions.
Integrating data for successful compliance
With so much data available, the question arises as to how companies can access manage all of this data at once. SpecPage’s SAP GTIN-Connector© helps businesses update and access all product-relevant information directly by mapping it from the SAP system onto the GDSN system. The SAP GTIN-Connector© is a SAP add-on, fully integrated into the SAP system. However, it can also easily be integrated with any business’ internal database. Alternatively, for non-SAP users, SpecPage’s web-based GDSN Guide, available as an in-house or SaaS solution, allows companies to manage their GDSN publications in a similar way.
Compliance regulations seek to make both product manufacturing and final consumption safer. Maintaining product compliance helps businesses ensure a long and healthy lifecycle for their products.
Featured Image: © fotolia / vege