Edgewater Fullscope spends a lot of time talking with industry leaders in food manufacturing. They tell us about their pains, concerns, and the things that keep them up at night. One of the big things we hear about is the dreaded food recall, and it always comes in at the top of their worry lists.
It should. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) currently estimates that each year, 76 million people will get sick, more than 300,000 people will end up in the hospital and 5,000 people will die from foodborne illnesses. If you tally up the cost of a recall to a food manufacturing company, it may be up to $30 million*, and this does not always take into consideration the hit to the brand, lost customers and legal fees.
A recall is always a possibility, so food manufacturers must plan and think about: “Can we perform recalls from an organizational standpoint? Do we have the technology in place? Can we deal with mock recalls? How does this affect our customers and how does this affect our vendors and the whole supply chain, starting with our employees?”
We’ve found that our food manufacturing customers also talk a lot about the global food safety initiative, or GFSI, compliance. They worry about things like, "Do we have the right systems that can manage compliance from start to finish across the whole supply chain? Are we able to move products upmarket and downmarket? Can we face the issues and constraints that we face as an organization on a day-in, day-out basis?"
In addition to their compliance, our customers have customers with compliance needs, which could be labeling or another unique requirement. Some things that we hear include, "Sure, we can handle the compliance requirements today, but what if we acquire someone, or introduce a new product line, or develop new recipes or formulas? How does that affect my compliance from an organizational standpoint?" From a company perspective you can't – just because you've done a new acquisition -- stop everything you're doing from a compliance perspective. You must have a system in place that can manage through change while keeping historical data while keeping you compliant.
The last thing we hear is, "From an organizational standpoint, yes, we can perform our safety practices that are in place. We can ‘do’ these food recalls, but can we ‘prove’ this ability to the proper regulatory agency, most often the FDA?” A lot of the fear expressed by these organizations stems from their lack of confidence if asked to perform a mock recall.
Addressing Food Safety Issues with Technology
So where should food manufacturers turn to help tackle these challenges head on? Selecting the right technology platform, including an enterprise resource planning system (ERP), is the ideal place to start. Here are three major traits to consider in an ERP solution:
Look for a business system that's compliant with regulatory requirements. Agencies typically look for enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems that have complete documentation control, including documentation from record management through quality procedures. Choose a solution that can provide all of the history, including details of all safety inspections. You must be able to properly provide clean, audited records so the auditors can actually prove the safety recommendations work, and that the recommendations meet compliance standards. Make sure it can help you spot trends. These aren't just trends with vendors and suppliers, but trends with customers, and more specifically, customer complaints. Tracking complaints will allow you to be proactive with issues that occur with product quality or packaging. Remember, if you're not able to record that information, you're unable to record and bring it forward.
If these are some of the issues that you're facing, let us help. We are one of the largest resellers of Microsoft Dynamics AX ERP, one of the fastest growing ERP solutions from the world’s leading software company. Sold only by partners, Dynamics AX is now available in the cloud or on premise. As for us, we have more than 20 years of experience helping process manufacturers including food processors tackle industry-specific challenges including conducting mock, or actual, recalls. With AX, we can help you:
- Track all of your corrective and preventive actions for the marketplace as well as address instrument calibration, perform flexible sampling, maintain histories
- Deal with the daily strains of food safety fundamentals and critical limits
- Keep a register of product specs and your rework product details
- Consider critical food safety limits
- Track the validations and the inspections that you provide to the market.
*Source - Ernst & Young, October 2010 Report, “Capturing Recall Costs, Measuring and Recovering the Losses
Check out these additional resources on food safety and recalls: