Crisis Averted

June 1, 2022

Crisis Averted

Mitigating Issues in the Food & Beverage Supply Chain Through Traceability

By Kelly Smith

It’s no secret that food and beverage is a fast-paced, high-demand industry and in the U.S. alone, there are 9.5 million links between the counties that produce food and where the food is then distributed for sale. Adding to this complexity, government agencies are regularly introducing new regulations surrounding food safety and traceability.

The most sweeping reform of national food safety law happened when the U.S. passed the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) which aimed to enhanced traceability, create more rapid responses to illness outbreaks, reduce food contamination, and more. The FSMA laws gave more authority to the FDA to implement food safety regulations as well as usher in the New Era of Smarter Food Safety Blueprint which added more requirements for tracking and tracing. Today, it’s important for organizations to adhere to these stringent regulations.

This blog post explores how using a traceability solution can help mitigate issues in the food and beverage supply chain and enable companies to meet the FDA’s FSMA requirements for safety.

Foodborne illnesses affect one in six Americans each year,

causing 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths.

Following FSMA Requirements to Ensure Safety

Some facilities have begun to adopt digital tracking through their enterprise resource planning software, (ERPs) but these often fail to provide the granular traceability required in food and beverage demanded by regulations like the FSMA. And requirements are only growing—new laws and legislation have been implemented with the overall goal of decreasing food waste by 50% by 2030. All food establishments that are regulated by the FDA must comply with FSMA regulations which account for at least 75% of the food industry. FSMA regulations aim to shift the focus of food producers and handlers towards the prevention of food safety issues before they happen.

Among the FSMA regulations, the Food Traceability amendment is considered one of the key requirements of the FDA’s New Era of Smarter Food Safety Blueprint. It aims to devise a way to easily track down recipients of contaminated products and effectively mitigate the effects of an outbreak. To ensure targets are met and compliance is maintained, food and beverage companies must be able to leverage a platform like Ashton Potter’s ProLinc® to quickly access traceability data to ensure safety.

ProLinc® has the ability to integrate with existing systems, working in tandem with other platforms to provide real-time data, allowing for full and timely operational visibility. This instant access to critical information makes it easier for organizations to manage—and prevent—problems that can arise.

Managing Crisis in the Food & Beverage Industry

Food recalls have lasting and damaging effects for both consumer well-being and market perception of a food brand. Yet, increasingly rigorous food safety and compliance standards has led to a steady rise in the frequency of recalls. In 2014, over 1.2 million cottage cheese containers were recalled because the products hadn’t been stored at the right temperature. Food contamination is another problem that can put the health of consumers in danger and result in recalls. Foodborne illnesses affect around one in six Americans each year, causing 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths.

With increased regulations, it’s important to put steps in place to help manage a crisis. Traceability solutions like Ashton Potter’s ProLinc® allow for crisis prevention and resolution by empowering food and beverage companies to trace the genealogy of a product to determine which batches and lot numbers were impacted and then trace each of these food items to their final destination so they can be removed from shelves.

Additionally, utilizing a traceability solution can provide global, granular insight into every ingredient, food item, and batch for proactive recall prevention. With the ability to track high level data on every aspect of the food and beverage supply chain because of easy integration with existing systems, companies can pick up on inconsistencies faster and step in to prevent potential contamination or recalls. Manufacturers also have the ability to pinpoint where an issue is occurring and take steps to correct the issue. And once there is enough data, it becomes easier to find trends in the analytics to help mitigate future problems.

Minimizing Potential Issues in the Supply Chain

Many manufacturers tend to intervene only when machinery has already failed rather than operating on a reactive maintenance model. Checking equipment on a regular basis and switching to reactive maintenance can help pinpoint potential problems before they actually occur. It may be tricky to completely tackle contaminated food and forced recalls but companies can follow a few useful steps to mitigate the rise of potential issues. Instead of relying on only one or two suppliers for a key ingredient, consider bringing on a more diverse supplier list as a way to avoid disruptions since these suppliers may experience issues themselves.

Additionally, food companies can tap into unprecedented insights of food genealogy by tracking ingredients and food item level data to ensure quality and safety. This allows contamination to be identified within the factory walls, resolving potential recall scenarios before a food item leaves the factory. But with an effective traceability solution like ProLinc® in place, food and beverage companies can help proactively prevent recalls and ensure government requirements are always being met.

By pairing serialized labels with digital product identities, companies gain complete transparency into food origin and safety. This forensic insight into the supply chain allows for identifying and isolating issues to happen with ease. ProLinc® empowers food and beverage companies with production monitoring and management functionality to individually track every product and component so recalls occur quickly and efficiently. To mitigate the risk of food recalls, traceability must become an automated aspect of the supply chain and integrated with other systems being utilized to enable push notifications when issues arise for real-time resolution.

Finding the Right Traceability Solution Partner

Selecting a powerful traceability platform for insight across the food supply chain that integrates easily with already existing platforms is among the most important actions food and beverage companies can take. Ashton Potter’s ProLinc® software is uniquely capable of serving the needs of companies by managing the food supply chain from field to factory to fork. Providing customizable dashboards and reporting to offer departments visibility into specific KPIs, this forensic traceability solution provides a view into the entire lifecycle of a food item, filling in the gaps that manual tracking and ERP modules leave behind.

Ashton Potter is the reliable partner you need to reach your goals for food and beverage supply chain transparency and traceability. Recognizing that each food company has its own unique processes, Ashton Potter ensures a seamless implementation tailored to every unique environment within food & beverage.

Speak with an expert today to learn more about how ProLinc® can help mitigate issues in the food and beverage supply chain through traceability.