The Quality Conundrum

December 3, 2019

The Quality Conundrum

Maintaining Quality Control in Food & Beverage

By Joe Sheeran

According to consumers surveyed by The Center for Food Integrity, food safety is the fifth most concerning of all ‘life issues’ for individuals—just behind the state of the U.S. economy—with 59% of consumers expressing high concern for the integrity of both domestic and imported goods. Such insight follows suit with consumer internet search patterns, as the top three most searched food topics on Google and Bing are ‘Ingredients in Food’, ‘Impact of Food on Health’, and ‘Food Safety’.

Beyond consumer concern, food and beverage producers and manufacturers are also charged with standardizing quality across the supply chain to eliminate compromises. In fact, a recent report found that U.S. food recalls increased 10% from 2013 to 2018. This comes in the wake of a recent romaine lettuce recall due to an outbreak of E. coli, the same pathogen that led to a national lettuce recall in December of 2018.

To meet the ever-evolving challenges of the global supply chain, a truly successful food and beverage manufacturer must therefore prioritize quality control and insight across a food item’s entire lifecycle—from harvest to the factory to distribution, store shelves, and consumers’ homes. Here are three solutions to common quality control challenges food and beverage producers and manufacturers face:

To meet the ever-evolving challenges of the global supply chain, a truly successful food and beverage manufacturer must therefore

prioritize quality control and insight across a food item’s entire lifecycle.

Challenge #1: Maintaining Quality from Field to Factory to Fork

When it comes to food manufacturing, the quality of each ingredient matters for the integrity of the final food item. Even when one producer has a comprehensive solution for quality control in place, outsourced ingredients from other suppliers introduce new risks and blind spots. Upholding these standards becomes even more complex when international suppliers are added to the mix, where differing regulations may result in inconsistencies across food items. Under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), the government attempts to standardize quality through rules that state producers must be able to verify that international suppliers uphold all applicable FDA regulatory requirements; however, for many, gaining supply chain insight at scale proves to be difficult.

The Solution: Standardizing quality from field to fork requires complete supply chain traceability. The right solution makes quality a priority by applying serialized labels to every ingredient and storing them in a Blockchain-enabled database that can be accessed in real time for continuous, reliable oversite over suppliers and producers.

Challenge #2: Adhering to Stringent Regulatory Standards

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates 48 million people get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die each year from a foodborne illness. At the same time, recalls pose a major financial risk to companies as well, with the average food recall caused by an outbreak costing $15 million per incident. While Quality Management Systems (QMS) provide high-level insight into supply chain practices designed to address such challenges, they often fail to provide the granular-level traceability required to isolate causality and resolve these compromises in real time.

The Solution: In order to make quality standard practice throughout the food and beverage supply chain—protecting both consumers and credibility—companies must extend the capabilities of their existing factory systems beyond that which is possible by a standard QMS. Rather, they require a solution that provides ingredient-level insight into every food item, with digital genealogies for every ingredient, food item, and batch stored in a secure database for real-time access.

Challenge #3: Catering to the Rising Expectations of Consumers

Just under half of consumers surveyed by The Center for Food Integrity have a positive attitude towards food manufacturing, and 63% of individuals—particularly young consumers, early adopters, and foodies—report that they are interested in knowing more. As consumers continue to demand more from the brands from which they purchase, capturing and maintaining long-lasting consumer loyalty requires food and beverage companies to prioritize supply chain traceability. That means manufacturers must extend insight beyond the factory walls, empowering all stakeholders with access to the information they need.

The Solution: In order to provide supply-chain wide insight, food and beverage manufacturers must be able to trace high volumes of food items from farm to table, documenting information on origin, harvesting, storage conditions, and more. Doing so requires a solution that creates a single digital identify for every product, incorporating equipment data from sensors located throughout the factory floor for granular-level insight.

Guaranteeing Quality with Ashton Potter

To standardize quality and unleash global traceability, food and beverage manufacturers require an unprecedented level of supply chain insight. With ProLinc®, by Ashton Potter, food manufacturers are able to access data at scale through the unique combination of secure labels and highly detailed digital identities. Plus, by integrating seamlessly into existing systems and processes, ProLinc brings immediate value to food and beverage manufacturers, ensuring that quality and integrity remain a top priority across the supply chain. Speak to an expert today to learn how to get started.

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