Tag Archives: Cloud Management

Randy Fields, Repositrak
FST Soapbox

Technology’s Role In The Future Of Food Safety

By Randy Fields
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Randy Fields, Repositrak

As we have all read in the media, when a food safety emergency occurs, a company’s reputation stands to take a significant hit that may be unrecoverable. This phenomenon isn’t going away soon, nor are compliance requirements that pose a threat to the personal freedom of executives. If these aren’t enough reasons to get busy automating your food safety programs, read on.

Randy Fields will be speaking as part of a panel of experts during the Food Safety: Past, Present & Future Plenary Session during the Food Safety Consortium, November 29th at 4:00pm.

The trends toward social and health-related product claims, like organic, the ‘free-froms’ and locally-grown, have had the impact of adding dozens if not hundreds of new suppliers to a retailer’s procurement list. And, it’s important to note, that these generally smaller suppliers are just now approaching their compliance deadlines for FSMA, and if they are very small, still have another year. New trends appear every year, and they will compound the challenge for retailers and wholesalers of knowing exactly who all of their suppliers are, which in turn will worsen compliance issues.

Our studies show that at least 12% of documents that certify organic, ‘free-froms’ and other product label claims have some level of discrepancy or inaccuracy making them invalid, and rendering the systems that rely on vendor self-disclosure near useless. With sales expected to skyrocket within these categories during the next few years, companies need to leverage technology to protect the supply chain, and consider having the system hold purchase orders generated for vendors who are not compliant with requirements.

An alternative is to have the system add a compliance fee to the purchase order that escalates over time or swiftly replace suppliers if they are not willing or not able to comply. That also speeds compliance as news travels quickly if there is a hard-hitting consequence for non-compliance. Either way, it’s important to be able to substantiate any claims to the consumer, since if those assertions are deemed unreliable, retailers and their suppliers risk a breach in consumer confidence and will suffer economically when shoppers turn away from them at the shelf.

And while retailers and wholesalers have begun to turn the Titanic on regulatory and business compliance, they need to continue to diligently find the risks in their supply chain, working even more aggressively to automate their current food safety and quality programs using new technology and procedures. Otherwise, their reputation and their existence are in jeopardy.

Cloud-based compliance management solutions that help retailers, wholesalers and suppliers meet the new food safety requirements can be configured to manage documentation requirements by supplier type vs. requiring the same documents from all suppliers. These systems also go beyond just storing digital copies of documents, and actually manage any form of compliance by reading inside the document to confirm it meets requirements. The benefits of these compliance management tools extend to streamlining new vendor approvals, which can save time and enable the redeployment of resources to more productive business-building activities.

Make no mistake: business and regulatory compliance will continue to be a focal point in the future. This includes addressing potential safety, certification and quality challenges throughout the extended supply chain as nearly one-third of all recalls are due to ingredient suppliers. We believe that in less than three years, retailers will require supply chain visibility from the shelf all the way back to “dirt”. It’s been proven too risky not to have that kind of visibility for ultimately everyone’s customer – the consumer. And now technology companies are on the hook to deliver it.

FST Soapbox

Hey You – Get On to My Cloud!

By Barbara Levin
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Adoption of cloud-based technologies for food safety and quality assurance: It’s going to happen. It has to happen. It should happen.

There’s been a lot of chat in the blogosphere recently about adoption of cloud-based technologies for food safety and quality assurance (FSQA). When it comes to uncertainty about the cloud, the Food and Beverage industry needs to – and I truly say this with no offense intended – get over it! It’s going to happen. It has to happen. It should happen.

  1. FSQA compliance is only going to get more complex – with testing and audit trails required by law, non-regulatory standards and by customers. This means that all participants in a supply chain are going to have to be connected to get information collected, analyzed and reported in realtime.
  2. It’s not practical, and probably not feasible – particularly in a global food supply chain – to connect participants using ERP-type solutions that are expensive, take a lot of time to deploy and many, many dollars to maintain. 
  3. Most emerging food safety and quality solutions are cloud-based for just that reason. They make it easy to connect suppliers, manufacturers and services/retail customers – without expensive hardware installations – and with affordable, fast to deploy and easy-to-use solutions that have actual hard-dollar return on investment.

So what’s the fuss?

Most concerns seem to be centered around security, so let’s consider some industries which represent the most prominent users of cloud solutions today. Two of the largest are banks, who heavily promote online banking including international cloud banking, and human resources departments of large companies, who rely on cloud-based employee portals for open enrollment, paystub viewing and more. We are talking about some of the most sensitive information out there: individuals’ personal information, social security numbers, salaries, bank accounts, etc. And cloud adoption is growing rapidly in other industries too – like insurance, healthcare and more.

Early cloud adopters in the F&B industry know what industries like banking and human resources know:

  1. There’s as much security in cloud-based solutions as there are in non-cloud technologies – and cloud security is highly configurable to fit the specific needs of individual users. If you want, for example, downstream customers to see only COAs and not see failed FSQA tests – then that’s how your vendor will configure your solution. If you want full transparency you can have that too. And for information that you don’t want anyone to see – like recipes – that is also a part of the security. 
  2. Cloud solution vendors generally exceed government and customer security requirements because they go the extra mile to ensure customer confidence and confidentiality.
  3. And as much as everyone thinks participants in a supply chain will balk about using a cloud system to send/receive FSQA information – the reality is that it makes it easier for everyone to work together – speeding throughput and preventing non-compliant products from coming in or going out. 

So I encourage you to talk to your vendors. Learn more about their cloud security. And, to paraphrase Mr. Jagger, Hey you – get on to my cloud!