Tag Archives: food safety management systems

Sayed M Naim Khalid

The Imperative for an Integrated Food Safety Management System

By Sayed M Naim Khalid
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Sayed M Naim Khalid

As the global food industry continues to evolve, the importance of ensuring food safety has never been more critical. Various standards and certifications, such as GFSI, Organic, Global GAP, HACCP, and ISO standards, have been established to address different aspects of food safety. However, the proliferation of these diverse standards pose a significant challenge — especially for small businesses — in terms of cost, complexity, and overall compliance. In this article, we will explore the need for an integrated food safety management system (FSMS) that consolidates these standards into a comprehensive and unified framework.

Current Challenges in Food Safety Standards

The food industry is subject to a multitude of regulations and standards, each designed to address specific concerns related to food safety. The Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) aims to harmonize and strengthen food safety standards across the supply chain. Similarly, standards like Organic, Global GAP, HACCP, and ISO provide guidelines for organic production, agricultural practices, hazard analysis, and quality management systems, respectively.

While these standards individually contribute to enhancing food safety, their coexistence often imposes a heavy burden on businesses, particularly smaller ones. Each standard necessitates a separate certification process, involving costs related to preparation, audits, and ongoing maintenance. This fragmented approach can be overwhelming for businesses, leading to inefficiencies and potential gaps in compliance.

Cost Implications for Small Businesses

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the food industry face a unique set of challenges when it comes to adhering to multiple food safety standards. The financial implications of obtaining certifications for each standard can be prohibitive. For instance, a small-scale food producer dealing with organic products may also need to comply with GFSI standards for global market access.

Certification costs — including consulting fees, documentation, and audit expenses —  quickly accumulate. Moreover, the need for ongoing compliance monitoring and updates can strain the already limited resources of smaller businesses. This situation raises concerns about the equitable access to global markets for businesses of all sizes.

The Role of an Integrated Food Safety Management System

The call for an integrated FSMS is rooted in the idea of streamlining and unifying the various standards to create a more accessible and efficient framework. By integrating these standards, businesses could achieve a single certification that covers multiple aspects of food safety, reducing the financial and administrative burden.

Integration can lead to a more cohesive approach to food safety, eliminating redundancies and ensuring a holistic understanding of potential risks throughout the supply chain. This not only simplifies the certification process but also facilitates better communication and collaboration among stakeholders, including producers, processors, distributors, and regulators. Benefits of an integrated FSMS include:

  • Cost Efficiency. An integrated FSMS would significantly reduce the costs associated with multiple certifications. Businesses can allocate resources more efficiently, making certification attainable for a broader range of enterprises.
  • Simplified Compliance. Streamlining standards into a unified system simplifies compliance efforts. Businesses can focus on meeting a comprehensive set of requirements rather than navigating the intricacies of various individual standards.
  • Enhanced Food Safety. Integration ensures a more comprehensive and interconnected understanding of food safety risks. This can result in a more effective preventive approach, addressing potential hazards at various stages of the production and distribution process.
  • Global Market Access. A single, globally recognized certification can facilitate market access for businesses, especially SMEs. This reduces barriers to entry and fosters fair competition in the global marketplace.
  • Improved Collaboration. Stakeholders across the supply chain can better collaborate when operating under a common framework. Enhanced communication and information sharing contribute to a more resilient and responsive food safety ecosystem.
  • Adaptability to Emerging Challenges. An integrated FSMS can be designed to incorporate emerging challenges and adapt to evolving risks in the food industry. This flexibility ensures that the system remains relevant and effective over time.

Challenges in Implementing an Integrated FSMS

While the benefits of an integrated FSMS are evident, the transition from the current fragmented system to a unified framework is not without challenges. Some potential hurdles include:

  • Resistance to Change. Stakeholders accustomed to existing standards may resist the shift towards integration. Overcoming resistance through education and awareness campaigns is crucial for successful implementation.
  • Technical Harmonization. Ensuring technical harmonization across different standards requires meticulous planning and collaboration. Consensus on common terminology, risk assessment methodologies, and other technical aspects is essential.
  • Regulatory Alignment. Coordinating with regulatory bodies to align an integrated FSMS with existing regulations is necessary. This involves addressing legal and regulatory challenges to ensure widespread acceptance.
  • Resource Allocation. Developing and implementing an integrated FSMS requires significant resources. Small businesses, in particular, may need support and incentives to make the transition feasible.
  • Global Acceptance. Achieving global acceptance of an integrated FSMS may take time. International cooperation and agreement on common standards are vital to ensure recognition across borders.

The need for an integrated food safety management system is evident in the face of an ever-evolving food industry. As standards such as GFSI, Organic, Global GAP, HACCP, and ISO play crucial roles in ensuring food safety, their integration into a comprehensive framework is imperative. The benefits, including cost efficiency, simplified compliance, enhanced food safety, global market access, improved collaboration, and adaptability to emerging challenges, make a compelling case for the adoption of an integrated FSMS.

While challenges in implementation exist, the long-term advantages for businesses, consumers, and the industry as a whole outweigh the difficulties. Governments, regulatory bodies, industry associations, and businesses should collaboratively work towards the development and adoption of an integrated FSMS that strengthens food safety practices, fosters innovation, and promotes equitable access to global markets. In doing so, the global food industry can move towards a more unified and resilient future, ensuring the safety and quality of food products for generations to come.

Paul Damaren

The New Era of Quality Management Solutions

By Paul Damaren
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Paul Damaren

Food businesses must prioritize safety and quality by taking every known precaution to protect their foods, customers, employees, and businesses. The most effective way for food brands to ensure safety, quality, and compliance is to use technology to elevate their quality management programs.

Technology, including artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT), blockchain, and machine learning, can make food significantly safer by improving food safety protocols, quality control, compliance, and supply chain management.

The Importance of Quality Management

Whether you’re a processor, manufacturer, distributor, retailer, or other food business, you must ensure that your safety and quality practices are consistent and properly maintained. And you must confirm that all employees follow gold standard safety protocols to minimize risks and maximize safety. But that isn’t enough on its own. You must also manage your entire supply chain to be certain that foods are safe and proper protocols are followed through every step of the journey.

Businesses need to maintain high-quality standards while also scaling production, introducing new products, providing exceptional customer service, and meeting evolving consumer demands. That’s no small feat! Fortunately, several tech tools now exist that can help food brands elevate their quality management programs and safety efforts.

Quality Management Tools Have Improved Dramatically

The way that organizations manage their food safety and quality programs has improved significantly over the years. Savvy food businesses have ditched their manual paper systems due to drawbacks such as being unable to provide real-time, integrated data across an enterprise. Manual systems also come with compliance risks, as employees could do sloppy or incomplete work on inspections, audits, and safety checks — or skip them altogether. Tech solutions offer more efficient and accurate ways to conduct and track quality management programs.

Food businesses should rely on digital quality management solutions that:

  • Are made specifically for the food sector, addressing food brands’ unique challenges and needs.
  • Are comprehensive, offering audit management, compliance tracking, risk assessment, supplier quality management, and quality control in one easy-to-use solution.
  • Include mobile auditing features to enhance on-site inspection efficiency, which is crucial for maintaining quality in fast-paced environments.
  • Feature compliance and reporting capabilities to ensure adherence to the latest regulatory requirements.
  • Allow brands to manage their suppliers, ensuring everyone is committed to the highest safety and quality standards, as any weak link in the supply chain can jeopardize the integrity of the food, leaving end-users vulnerable.

Technologies To Elevate Quality Programs

The integration of technology in the food sector has been exciting, and we have learned much about which technologies offer the greatest benefit. Some of the most valuable solutions include:

  • Busy food brands can leverage automation to reduce administrative burdens and time-consuming tasks and improve efficiency, consistency, accuracy, and productivity.
  • AI and machine learning. These solutions offer predictive maintenance of equipment, quality control, and yield optimization, and give business owners critical, real-time data to drive more informed decision-making. Additionally, machine learning algorithms can predict food safety risks based on various parameters, such as storage conditions and handling.
  • IoT devices monitor safety and quality parameters, including temperature, humidity, and vibration to identify and either resolve or alert companies to safety and quality risks. IoT provides constant feedback, so food brands can quickly prevent (or remediate) safety breaches and quality degradation.
  • Blockchain can provide food authentication through increased transparency and enhanced food traceability. Food brands can leverage blockchain technology to ensure the food they’re getting is safe, authentic, and high-quality. Blockchain can trace food back to its source to prevent food fraud, increase food safety, and improve recalls in the event of a safety breach.

A New Era of Food Safety & Quality Software

As these technologies have made their way into the food industry, we are seeing continuous improvement in quality management tools, including:

  • More comprehensive functions. When multiple functions are packaged together in a single intuitive solution, it allows food brands to streamline their quality management processes, aligning with industry-specific requirements.
  • More robust compliance management. Additional compliance management features help brands better understand ever-evolving regulations and adhere to stringent safety standards. And that’s reassuring for customers and end-users, including the retailers that sell the products, the restaurants that serve them, and the consumers that eat them.
  • Focus on supply chain management. Supply chain management has seen a technological overhaul around quality assurance, providing more transparency and traceability from farm to fork. Focusing on every point across the supply chain is crucial in an industry where the quality of the end product is directly influenced by the quality of the sourced materials.
  • Mobile auditing. Mobile auditing solutions within quality monitoring programs allow organizations to facilitate real-time data collection and reporting, a critical factor for onsite inspections in food production, processing, manufacturing, and retail environments.
  • Accessible for all. As tech solutions have become more affordable, accessible, scalable, and user-friendly, they have become more attainable for food businesses of all sizes and budgets. While some brands may worry that digital quality management solutions require significant investment, think of the ROI you’ll receive by avoiding brand damaging and expensive safety and quality breaches.

Digital quality management solutions have become essential for every food business, allowing brands to avoid costly, damaging breaches. Food businesses would be wise to adopt and embrace this new era of quality management solutions to maximize safety, minimize risks, and demonstrate their commitment to quality and compliance.


FSSC 22000 to Host Focus Event During Food Safety Consortium Conference & Expo 2019

By Food Safety Tech Staff
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EDGARTOWN, MA, June 27, 2019 – Innovative Publishing Co., publisher of Food Safety Tech and organizer of the Food Safety Consortium Conference & Expo is pleased to announce a partnership with FSSC 22000 to hold the organization’s Focus Event 2019 at this year’s Food Safety Consortium in Schaumburg, IL.

FSSC 22000, GFSI
The FSSC 22000 Focus Event 2019 takes place on October 1 in Schaumburg, IL.

Taking place on October 1 as a pre-conference workshop, the FSSC 22000 Focus Event will provide a firsthand update of the FSSC 22000 program worldwide and review the new Version 5, which includes the revised ISO 22000:2018. Experts will give attendees an overview of the benefits of the ISO approach and its alignment with FSMA, as well as the role of FSSC 22000 new scopes, including Transport and Storage, with a practical example of the benefits of certification in this new sector. There will also be discussion of the application of the FSSC Global Markets Program to smaller and medium-sized organizations.

“I am excited to welcome stakeholders from the GFSI-recognized food safety management system FSSC 22000 to the Food Safety Consortium as key participants in educating an important part of this industry,” said Rick Biros, president of Innovative Publishing Co., Inc. and director of the Food Safety Consortium Conference and Expo.

Speakers include Cornelie Glerum, Managing Director, FSSC 22000; Cor Groenveld, Market Development Director, FSSC 22000; Jacqueline Southee, North America Representative, FSSC 22000; and Jim Blackmon, President of Carry Transit (invited).

Professionals within the following roles/segments should attend this event: Food and beverage companies; FSSC 22000 certified companies and companies interested in becoming FSSC 22000 certified; certification bodies and contractor auditors; accreditation bodies; and training organizations.

The FSSC 22000 Focus Event is available and included in the Food Safety Consortium Conference registration fee.

Delegates registering for the FSSC 22000 Focus Event 2019 only will also receive complimentary admission to the plenary session of the Food Safety Consortium, presented by Frank Yiannas, deputy commissioner, food policy and response at FDA, and are invited to attend the evening reception in the exhibition hall.

About Food Safety Tech

Food Safety Tech publishes news, technology, trends, regulations, and expert opinions on food safety, food quality, food business and food sustainability. We also offer educational, career advancement and networking opportunities to the global food industry. This information exchange is facilitated through ePublishing, digital and live events.

About the Food Safety Consortium Conference and Expo

The Food Safety Consortium Conference and Expo is a premier educational and networking event for food safety solutions. Attracting the most influential minds in food safety, the Consortium enables attendees to engage conversations that are critical for advancing careers and organizations alike. Visit with exhibitors to learn about cutting edge solutions, explore diverse educational tracks for learning valuable industry trends, and network with industry executives to find solutions to improve quality, efficiency and cost effectiveness in an ever-changing, global food safety market. This year’s event takes place October 1–3 in Schaumburg, IL.

About FSSC 22000

FSSC 22000 (Food Safety System Certification 22000) offers a complete certification program for the auditing and certification of Food Safety Management Systems (FSMS) and Food Safety and Quality Management Systems (FSSC 22000-Quality). Based on the internationally accepted ISO 22000 family of standards and benchmarked by the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI), FSSC 22000 sets out the requirements for companies throughout the supply chain for meeting the highest food safety standards. FSSC 22000 is recognized and relied upon by some of the world’s largest food manufacturers, is widely accepted by Accreditation Bodies worldwide and supported by important stakeholders like FoodDrinkEurope (FDE) and the American Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA).

Debby Newslow

Strong Prerequisite Programs Half the Battle in FSMA Compliance

By Maria Fontanazza
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Debby Newslow

Having a strong prerequisite program is a key part of maintaining compliance with FSMA and food safety management systems standards. In a recent discussion with Food Safety Tech, Debby Newslow, president of DL Newslow & Associates gave a preview of some of the expertise that she will be sharing during her session at next week’s Food Safety Consortium, “Food Safety/HACCP Prerequisite Programs” (session takes place Thursday, November 19).

Food Safety Tech: What are some of the challenges that companies face in establishing prerequisite programs for HACCP?

Debby Newslow: Understanding the significance of the prerequisite program—a lot of times, employees are [going through the motions] of things like wearing hairnets or not wearing jewelry—but [they need to] understand why it’s important. There’s a weakness in the education of employees. We need to redefine the word “training”, because training should mean education, too and understanding the importance of it. Companies take it for granted—they have defined procedures that they may or may not follow. And the other challenge is commitment and an understanding from management as to why it’s important.

On Wednesday, November 18, Debby Newslow will participate in the Ask the Experts session, “Food Safety Training Challenges”. LEARN MOREFST: What are best practices that companies can implement in this area?

Newslow: They need a program established, along with commitment to and support from a food safety team that has a responsibility to the team to evaluate the effectiveness. They also need support from top management. Every group and department needs to understand their requirements and why they’re important. They need to have the tools and the knowledge to understand what’s needed. Through the food safety team or internal audit team they can have the independence to monitor and look at its effectiveness. A lot of companies hold strong that the auditors need to find everything that’s wrong, and that’s an old school way of thinking.

Educate everyone and encourage them to take ownership for compliance, and use the internal programs and teams to evaluate the effectiveness.

On Thursday, November 19, Debby Newslow will present, Food Safety Management Systems—Understanding the Three Legged Stool” LEARN MOREFST: What do you hope attendees gain from your session on food safety & HACCP PRPs at the Food Safety Consortium?

Newslow: My session is going to be focused on prerequisite programs and how they fit with FSMA and the preventive controls (they really go side-by-side)

  1. I want folks not to be so nervous about FSMA. If they have a strong program now for food safety and HACCP, and have the prerequisite programs identified and managed, they’ll be 95% there for FSMA [compliance]. Companies really need to focus on their internal programs and have a food safety program that is compliant with FSMA, and expand and confirm the effectiveness of these internal programs. Take pest control, for example. Some companies will hire the outside company and will monitor and know the effectiveness on a regular basis. Other companies will hire an outside firm and let them do whatever they want, and not have a clue what’s going on. Then there are smaller companies that have someone come in, spray, and send them a bill, and they won’t even know what the [outside] company is using as an insecticide. So you have different levels, and that’s why we have to understand each program and what is required for effectiveness and compliance.
  2. The role of the prerequisite program and preventive controls is that if you look at recalls in today’s world, 90% of recalls are caused from ineffective or nonexistent prerequisite programs [Newslow estimate]. Very seldom do we see a recall because a CCP fails. We get so hung up on other things and forget why do we take off our jewelry, for example. The odds of something going wrong are thin but when you look at it from the big picture, it can happen and it does happen. I’ll have some significant recent examples in my session.