Food safety is a top priority for anyone operating in the Food & Beverage industry. Only when companies consistently provide safety and quality will customers make repeat purchases.
Without standardized procedures in place, companies may be unable to control the quality of their end-product. If consumed, these contaminated products will result in the consumer developing a host of health problems. If left unchecked, mistakes in the product manufacturing process can lead to fatalities.
To ensure food safety, it is necessary for standardized processes and procedures within the company’s operations. Additionally, there should be comprehensive rules and regulations framed by regulators that companies must follow when it comes to manufacturing, handling, packaging, transporting and storing products.
Food specification management can be challenging. It isn’t enough for companies to have a record of the processes they follow. They should have access to various sources of information – ingredient lists, organic certifications for ingredients, chemical formulas used, details of temperate settings used for heating and cooling, and so on. Only when companies have easy access to such information are they able to exert proper control over food safety and quality.
Companies often choose to utilize specialized software and technologies to make specification management easier. One of the software tools companies around the world use for this purpose is SpecPage’s SpecPDM application.
This platform offers users a centrally-designed specification management system which is used to record and store all details relating to products. SpecPDM serves as a go-to hub for all of the company’s information needs. From ingredient lists to labeling details; data pertaining to every stage of the product’s lifecycle is available here.
Tools such as SpecPDM are extremely beneficial to a company’s R&D efforts. With all product information centrally located, it is much easier for managers to access pertinent product specifications.
One of the greatest advantages of utilizing technology when managing food safety and quality is the ability to customize functionality when catering to the unique requirements of individual companies. Many of these applications work on a modular set-up, meaning there is a host of modules companies can choose from to suit their needs.
These applications also make Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) easier. When companies are aware of what materials go into the product at each stage and what processes are used, it becomes easier to identify and combat problems in advance. Coupled with R&D, innovations can be made to the product where quality takes center stage. The higher the quality of the product, the longer it remains in the market.
Legal Aspects of Food Specification Management
Only when there are standards and rules set up by regulatory bodies, will there be a codified method of handling products in the Food & Beverages industry. The ISO 22000 Certification, which deals with Food Safety Management, helps identify and control potential hazards to food safety. The Certification clearly states all things a company must do to effectively control, reduce and prevent contamination of food and beverages.
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has recently put forth rules regarding the additives which can and cannot be used while manufacturing products. Per the law, product labels must clearly specify why a particular additive is used and whether or not it is harmful upon consumption. The study carried out by the EFSA’s expert panel on Food Additives and Nutrient Sources Added to Food (ANS) helped to identify potential hazards to food safety and quality.
The Swiss Federal Office for Food Safety and Veterinary Affairs (FSVO) has released an Ordinance on Materials and Articles, which contains regulations about the types and kinds of materials that can and cannot come in contact with products. According to the ordinance, materials such as plastic utensils, cloth, packaging boxes, consumable inks and other items potentially containing contaminants compromising food safety and quality must not be used in the manufacture, packaging or transportation of products. The ordinance also lists permitted substances to be used by companies.
Food specification management also extends to labeling. The Food Standards Code of the Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) specifies rules about what the product label should contain and what information it should provide the customer. The code also helps them understand what ingredients can and cannot be used during production.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA)’s and USDA Foods Specifications have put forth detailed standards of quality and wholesomeness every product must possess in order to be approved for the market. The USDA grade shields, official seals and labels are symbolic of a product’s complete adherence to standards of quality. For a company to be eligible to earn these various accreditations, it must go through multiple food audits and prove that it has adhered to all food safety requirements.
What are the 5 Essentials for Food Specification Management?
- Purchasing Decisions
Companies must decide whether they wish to manufacture certain ingredients such as chemicals and inks or purchase them from another company. Buying these items from an outside source would entail exerting control over the manufacturing process of another company. This may quickly become difficult. Using global databases and software, companies can create partnerships and work together to create and maintain high-quality products.
- Leveraging the Information from Production Reports
Production reports help managers understand the nuances of food manufacturing. They also help control costs and quality. Acting on the information in the production report will help companies rectify problems immediately and ensure the quality and safety of the product in the long run.
- Setting up Control and Measuring Systems
Control systems and certifications such as the ISO 22000 Certification and the Safe Quality Food certification schemes help companies keep track of how their operations are being conducted and whether changes are needed to ensure the elimination of product contamination at any stage.
- Inventory Management
Stale or contaminated inventory can impact the quality of the end-product by utilizing control systems companies can measure the quality of inventory available and ensure their final products are safe for consumption. Furthermore, inventory management helps keep track of important information such as the manufacturing date, expiration date, and so on.
- Sanitation in Storage
Storage and transportation are the sources of the greatest potential for contamination due to pests and the external environment. Whether the company sets up its’ own storage and transportation or hires them from a third-party-vendor, it’s essential there is a thorough inspection of the premises and processes used. This helps control the quality of the product.
To ensure food safety, companies need to evaluate all activities from the cellular level. Every step must be done followed, keeping in mind the quality and safety requirements as laid down by law. By using software applications such as SpecPDM, companies can access past information to be used to create products of superior-quality in the future.
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