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Randy Fields, Repositrak
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The Silver Lining of FSMA Compliance: Leverage the Cloud to Mitigate Risk

By Randy Fields
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Randy Fields, Repositrak

It may seem counter-intuitive that any government regulation could generate an opportunity for food industry manufacturers, processors and marketers. But that is exactly the case with the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). Manufacturers as well as your suppliers and customers need to invest in and change some business practices to comply with FSMA regulations, and doing so will enable them to bolster other processes and technologies to further cut costs and help mitigate risks not directly associated with food safety.

FSMA requires food manufacturers and your trading partners (both upstream and downstream) to have the documentation for regulatory compliance readily accessible for government inspection, with specific records required for companies that transport food or are deemed to be the procurer of foreign products. When you add these records to the business relationship records that food manufacturers, your suppliers and customers should already be maintaining (such as indemnifications and certificates of insurance that help manage brand risk), the databases start to become very large, very quickly.

The easy part of FSMA compliance for food manufacturers is with your largest customers and suppliers, because they likely have the processes and technologies in place to ensure both companies have the proper documentation. It’s really the group of smaller customers and ingredient providers, which can represent thousands of companies, that may not have the sophistication to supply the data points required under the law. Collecting and managing the information from these firms can be costly and labor intensive.

The good news is that cloud-based technology now exists to help all trading partners in the food supply chain meet FSMA requirements while working to prevent outbreaks and quickly limiting situations when they occur. This technology goes beyond just storing digital copies of documents—it helps to manage compliance with exception-based alerts for expired, missing or inaccurate records. It can also be the basis of an approval process for new vendors that incorporate record compliance. By linking and automating the management of compliance documentation and new vendor approvals, companies save time and allow for redeployment of resources to more productive activities. 

If you are serious about reducing brand risk, linking compliance management data with your purchase order system will swiftly and effectively accomplish that goal. Holding a purchase order for a non-compliant vendor protects the retailer, manufacturers and the consumer, and communicates a commitment to food safety within the entire supply chain. 

So, complying with government regulations such as FSMA doesn’t have to represent a significant one-time investment in technology and ongoing upkeep. Look to cloud-based technology with an eye for streamlining current processes, reducing overhead and supporting new customer or regulatory requirements.  And, being proactive to ensure the safety of your company and your customers will put you in a position to sell more and grow your market share.