Are you compliant?

If you answered yes, then you already know how important it is to adhere to the constantly-changing rules and regulations that have been enacted to promote food compliance, and understand the value of food safety software that helps you maintain these standards. If you answered no, then we have a simple follow-up question: can you afford not to be?

When it comes to the food we eat, safety is paramount, and never more so than in the past decade. After years of health issues that could be directly traced back to a lack of standards within the food industry, various government and regulatory agencies started to issue new rules for food processors, manufacturers, and distributors. In an industry where food safety audits can occur at a moment’s notice, a food safety software solution that addresses the issues of traceability and compliance is critical.

Compliance 101

It would take months, if not years, to become fully knowledgeable about each of every law, methodology, and organization that is related to the topic of food safety. But as a starting point, anyone interested in compliance should be familiar with the following:

FDA Food Safety Modernization Act

A major law falling under the auspices of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) promotes a proactive approach to food safety issues. Prior to the introduction of the FSMA, the FDA was limited to a passive role in food safety issues, reacting to contamination problems once they were discovered. The FSMA includes a number of changes that make it possible for the FDA to work towards preventing issues from occurring in the first place, instead of having to play catch up once they are discovered. Signed into law in 2011, various components of the FSMA are just now starting to be implemented, with all relevant food companies being expected to adhere to its standards.

To visit the FDA’s official page on the Food Safety Modernization Act, click here.

Rice QA

Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points

Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) is a methodology for ensuring food safety by identifying of potential safety hazards throughout the length of the food production supply chain, as well as the “control points” in the chain at which preventive measures can be applied. Created in the 1960s, HACCP is utilized by corporations around the world.

HACCP is comprised of seven principles:

  • Principle 1: Conduct a hazard analysis.
  • Principle 2: Determine the critical control points (CCPs).
  • Principle 3: Establish critical limits.
  • Principle 4: Establish monitoring procedures.
  • Principle 5: Establish corrective actions.
  • Principle 6: Establish verification procedures.
  • Principle 7: Establish record-keeping and documentation procedures.

For more detailed information on the seven HACCP principles, click here.

Global Food Safety Initiative

The Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) is an international organization that is committed to the delivery of safe food to consumers around the world. Comprised of food safety experts, service providers, academics, and government officials, the GFSI seeks to achieve synchronicity in food safety standards throughout all points of the supply chain. One of its key roles has been the benchmarking of various food safety schemes against a common guidance. Food companies that obtain a certification according to one of these recognized schemes identify themselves as being compliant to GFSI standards, and therefore having a serious commitment to food safety.

The following certification schemes are currently recognized by the GFSI:

To visit the GFSI’s website, click here.

Safe Quality Food Program

As the only GFSI-recognized program headquartered outside of Europe, The Safe Quality Food (SQF) 2000 Code is one of the most commonly-obtained food safety certifications in the United States today. The SQF 2000 Code is comprised of multiple certification levels:

  • Level 1 – Food Safety Fundamentals. Incorporating very basic food safety requirements, this is an entry level certification for new businesses or companies that deal with low-risk products. Level 1 is NOT GFSI-recognized.
  • Level 2– Certified HACCP Food Safety Plans. Requires that a food safety risk analysis of a company’s products and processes be performed according to the HACCP methodology, resulting in an identification of existing hazards, as well a plan to prevent, reduce, or eliminate their occurrence. Level 2 is GFSI-recognized.
  • Level 3– Comprehensive Food Safety and Quality Management Systems. In addition to a completion of the Level 2 requirements, Level 3 also requires that a food quality risk analysis of a company’s products and processes be performed, resulting in a plan to ensure a consistent level of quality. Level 3 is GFSI-recognized.

To visit the SQF website, click here.

To obtain a full copy of the SQF 2000 Code, click here.

Ensure compliance with bcFood

Adhering to a recognized standard of safety compliance is no longer an option for food companies. bcFood is a food safety compliance software that gives you the tools to achieve and maintain the necessary standard of excellence.

Five or six years ago, we would have begun this section with the sentence, “more and more companies are requiring that their vendors obtain a GFSI-recognized certification.” Today, we can replace the phrase “more and more” with “virtually all.” After more than ten years at the forefront of governmental, regulatory, and public consciousness, it is expected that companies observe the proper procedures to guarantee safe products. The FSMA and similar laws allow regulatory agencies to inspect food processing, manufacturing, and distribution facilities, and failure to pass these inspections can result in fines, recalls, and suspensions. Besides the obvious short term financial impact of these penalties, the long term ramifications are even more serious, as an inability to achieve safety compliance will erode an organization’s reputation in the eyes of its customers.

With bcFood and Microsoft Dynamics NAV, you can make certain that this does not happen with your company. The software has a number of features designed to help you maintain the level of SQF compliance you need. The following elements of the Safe Quality Food 2000 Code are addressed directly in your bcFood solution (element number presented in parentheses):

  • Complaint Management (4.1.5)
  • Document Control (4.2.1)
  • Raw Material Specifications (4.3.2)
  • Packaging Specifications (4.3.3)
  • Packaging Specifications (4.3.6)
  • Incoming Goods and Services Safety (4.4.5)
  • Corrective and Preventive Action (4.4.6)
  • Non-Conforming Product and Equipment Safety (4.4.7)
  • Product Sampling, Inspection and Analysis (4.5.4)
  • Product Identification (4.6.1)
  • Product Tracking (4.6.2)
  • Product Recall (4.6.3)

At Beck Consulting, we understand that the realm of food safety is very fluid, and that what constitutes “compliance” today may be out-of-date five years from now. We continuously monitor the landscape of food safety compliance to anticipate and prepare for upcoming changes, and thanks to the flexibility and scalability of Dynamics NAV, can quickly expand upon bcFood’s functionality to ensure you don’t miss a step when it comes to maintaining your compliance.

Just as the rules, regulations, and best practices in food safety compliance change, so too will bcFood.

Additional Resources

The issue of compliance in the food industry is vast, and will not recede from the forefront of concern at any time in the foreseeable future. Luckily, there is no shortage of resources when it comes to expanding one’s knowledge in this area. The following materials can help you stay up-to-date with the latest news, findings, and trends in food compliance.

  • Recall Index, 2016 Q4: every quarter, Stericycle indexes and analyzes recall data from a number of different agencies, including the FDA and the USDA. Their Q4 report from 2016 offers insight into recall activity from all of 2016. Read the index here.
  • 2014 Food & Health Survey: in 2014, the International Food Information Council Foundation conducted an online survey of over 1,000 Americans regarding their knowledge of and attitudes towards current food and health issues. Read the full report here.