When it comes to ensuring customer loyalty, new food product development is certainly important. However, managing your supply chain can be just as critical to food innovation— especially if you outsource food product manufacturing and distribution.
Outsourcing puts your business’s reputation in the hands of another company. If you don't have the right partner, then everything from the safety of your food products to their taste and appearance is jeopardized.
Changes to FDA Regulations Prompt New Focus on Supply Chain Management
In January 2011, President Obama signed into law the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). The act represents the first major food safety legislation in 70 years, and granted the FDA more power to police food companies.
The FSMA was mean to improve food safety in four key areas
- inspection and compliance
The act effectively gave the FDA power over mandatory preventative controls, produce safety standards and the authority to prevent international contamination. The FDA is now, also, able to mandate inspection frequency and manage the testing by accredited laboratories—even demand a supplier or retailer to recall certain products. With this expanded administrative power, the regulatory body is able to suspend registration and track foods more closely.
As the FDA has tightened the food safety net, manufacturers and suppliers have been forced to re-evaluate their current processes, with a special focus on re-engineering safety standards for improved food innovation.
Increased focus on supply chain initiatives has led to stricter product-handling rules at every step.
And if your supply chain doesn’t offer real-time visibility, rigorous quality and inspection and fast, reliable recall management, you may find yourself at the wrong end of a food safety scare.
How to Strengthen the Supply Chain and Improve Food Safety
Earlier this year, several confirmed cases of E. coli infection were linked to hummus dip, raw clover sprouts, and walnuts, leading to major food recalls, according to CNN Reports. In May, over 14,860 pounds of hummus and dip products were voluntarily recalled along with 1.8 million pounds of ground beef products. It can sometimes seem as if every time we turn around a new food is being recalled due to contamination issues.
While the FDA has been given an unprecedented amount of oversight of the food and beverage industry, improving food safety starts with individual suppliers and a stronger, better supply chain.
- Product traceability. Product tractability begins with your supplier network.
Visibility into all food and beverage ingredients through supplier enablement systems will help to ensure clear communication between your supplier network and your manufacturing operations. A supplier enablement system that shares information via system-to-system integration or Web portals are two easy solutions for improving supply chain management and communication.
- Transportation management systems (TMS). Even before a product leaves the dock, TMS is ready to track your product and ensure it lands on the right carrier.
During the transportation process, TMS will then track visibility and ensure that shipments are delivered within an acceptable window. Upon arrival, TMS can confirm delivery, ensuring complete product tracing from farm to fork.
- Supplier collaboration for product testing. FDA legislation requires that both you and your suppliers routinely test products.
Utilizing supplier enablement software is one easy way to manage inspection records and identify potential problems before they occur. Collaborating closely with suppliers will also help to improve overall ingredient quality and push suppliers to avoid any variability in their shipments.
RFID and sensor data may include monitoring temperatures during transportation to ensure that refrigeration and/or heat do not become issues that affect product quality. The more trading partners that are involved, the more complexities may arise. Consequently, it is very important to have clear, firm agreements in place for monitoring product quality and tracking test results.
When it comes to food innovation, there’s a lot more that matters than simply coming up with creative food products. Managing each step of the supply chain process through advanced technologies—such as e a computerized transportation management system (TMS)— leads to better food safety, quality and taste for your consumers.