Is Your Plant Ready for the FSMA in 2017?

Brent Whittaker
By Brent Whittaker | February 16, 2017
Global Account Executive
The Food Safety Modernization Act of 2011 (FSMA) is the most sweeping reform of America’s food safety laws in more than 70 years. Many manufacturers in the Food and Beverage industries have been steadily implementing FSMA requirements, especially those manufacturers with thermal divisions.

Lines that use high-temperature processing (such as for juice and sports drinks) have an inherently higher risk of contamination and food safety issues, and those plants have proactively embraced the more stringent requirements. For those plants and organizations, the task now is to roll out these requirements to the rest of their operations.
The deadline approaches
Companies must continually work to be in full compliance with the FSMA. But even companies that have implemented the requirements in some divisions face challenges. The hallmark of the FSMA is traceability, and that means that line operators will have to test and record more data than before. The biggest issue for most organizations is the balance between how much extra work to put on their operators and keeping processes efficient and compliant.
Fortunately, technology can help. The FSMA will undoubtedly mean more frequent testing for operators. A Manufacturing Intelligence (MI) solution like InfinityQS® ProFicient™, which provides powerful tracking and traceability functionality, can ease that burden. ProFicient looks at every component that goes into a product—from lots to containers to the truck on which those components arrived—to make it easier to see where a problem originated and whether those components were used in other batches or products.
Consider the example of fill testing. Operators don’t only check the fill level. They must also know where all the ingredients in that fill originated—everything from sugar to coloring to CO2—and which container the product goes into—can, carton, or bottle. They must know which suppliers the components came from and their suppliers, right down to the field in which the sugar cane was grown.
ProFicient puts all that data in one place and makes it highly available. Operators and quality managers can access the data quickly, sort it the way they need it, put it in a visual representation that’s easy to understand, and act on it immediately should the analysis indicate a problem.
What can ProFicient do for you? A cola producer that had installed the solution recently conducted a mock recall. In the past, such an exercise took about a week. With ProFicient, it took 20 minutes.
Traceability for the FSMA, proactive problem solving for manufacturers
Sure, the FSMA will mean more work for operators and the plants in which they work, and there is certainly push-back on the extra testing the law requires. But a transformative MI solution like ProFicient gives manufacturers a very real way to realize the benefits of data centralization. When all plants use the same processes, work to the same core standards (interpreted the same way), and have access to the same data, they can share best practices and get quicker answers when problems occur. In short, people can communicate and help each other.
The FSMA is essential: Both government and consumers are demanding these improvements. Fortunately, manufacturers have better tools than ever before to meet the law’s demands and keep their customers happy and safe.

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