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Five Food ERP Features for the Food Safety Modernization Act

The burden of foodborne illness is considerable. Every year, 1 out of 6 people in the United States—48 million people--suffers from foodborne illness, more than a hundred thousand are hospitalized, and thousands die.

The FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), the most sweeping reform of our food safety laws in more than 70 years, was signed into law by President Obama on January 4, 2011. It aims to ensure the U.S. food supply is safe by shifting the focus from responding to contamination to preventing it.

However, many food and beverage processors are already becoming overwhelmed as they move towards compliance with the major provisions of the FSMA, including:

  • Inspections and Recalls: The FDA now has the sweeping authority to inspect “high-risk” food products annually, and to initiate product recalls of suspected tainted foods. This is a significant transition away from relying on individual producers and distributors to voluntarily issue their own recalls.
  • Penalties and Fines: The FDA has also been given the power to levy heavy fines and limit supplies to food companies that do not cooperate with FDA inspections and recalls.
  • Food Safety Plans: Food processors are now required to develop comprehensive food safety plans, or Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points plans, that are easily accessible by the government in case of an emergency. These Food Safety Plans need to include analyses of potential biological, chemical, and physical hazards, preventive controls and corrective actions to be taken after an event.
  • Food Traceability: Over the next few years, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is required to create a food tracing system to streamline the discovery of contamination sources and accelerate the response times during an outbreak of food poisoning.
In order to meet the document management and traceability requirements of the Food Safety Modernization Act (and other Food Safety regulations), food processors need to choose innovative Food ERP solutions that provide more than just lot traceability and corrective actions. Today’s leading Food ERP solutions go beyond finance, accounting, and supply chain management - they enable you to identify, document, monitor and follow up on critical control points, thereby supporting compliance with even the most stringent regulations and reporting requirements, including FSMA, GFSI, and SQF protocols.

Here are five Food Safety software features that every Food processor must have in their ERP system to ensure that the company maintains the highest levels of quality, safety, compliance and profitability.

  1. Traceability: The increasing demands for regulation and easy access to real-time data have made traceability programs and systems a necessity for any food manufacturing and distribution company. The capability to track (farm to fork) and trace (fork to farm) details per product or per lot is critical. Tracking and tracing is the core of most global regulations. The capability to track a product from farm to fork or using the one up and one down rule combines collecting appropriate information, organizing the information, and retrieving it as required. 
  2. Recall Management: At any given moment, Food companies must be able to quickly and effectively recall products that have been deemed unsafe for the market. Failure to handle a recall successfully (either voluntary or mandatory) can have serious economic and legal consequences. Choosing an industry-specific ERP solution with comprehensive, end-to-end food recall management functionality positions a company to plan their entire recall process in advance, to perform mock recalls proactively or at a customer / regulator’s demands, to constantly measure and improve the recall process and, most importantly, to respond rapidly, accurately, and thoroughly if an actual recall is required.
  3. Quality Management: Food and beverage companies are also required to detect and react to Food Safety incidents and non-conformances and ensure that appropriate actions are taken to correct and prevent future occurrences. Still, more than half of the FDA warning letters cite Corrective Action / Preventive Action deficiencies. Using a systematic approach to correcting and preventing issues, measuring the outcome and continuously monitoring the system can ensure that a company is compliant, effective and efficient. And, having a well-thought-out Food Safety Management system can result in successful audits, fewer investigations, less product loss, better customer satisfaction, and an increase in overall operational efficiencies.
  4. Electronic Document Management: Today’s successful food companies are increasingly global. These organizations must sustain global manufacturing and distribution processes while addressing the potential operational risks, as well as overcoming the quality, safety and pricing pressures inherent in an already complex industry. As a result, many food companies seek to implement enterprise-wide food safety and compliance document management solutions that can quickly address customer and regulatory issues consistent with worldwide requirements, while simultaneously being leveraged to automate and enhance business processes. These companies need to manage unstructured data in a controlled manner and according to their food safety compliance programs - and do so efficiently without paper-based and people-intensive processes.
  5. Inventory Control: Every manufacturer must plan production, purchase and manage materials, execute the manufacturing plan, and deliver products. Food process manufacturers however, require a unique set of capabilities, including management of co-products and by-products, multiple packaging configurations, lot traceability, item weight and specification variances, and product shelf life. Food inventory management must enable companies to track and manage raw materials while taking into account the complexities of multiple inventory characteristics such as weight, container type, and expiration date. In addition, companies must be able to define, manage, and cost multiple outputs, such as co-products and by-products, from a single production process.
MAXFood Safety ERP allows organizations to grow their business instead of spending time on manual tasks, redundant data re-entry, and people-intensive processes. It enables food processing companies to simplify compliance with stringent food safety standards - including FSMA, GFSI, and SQF. MAXFood streamlines and automates recalls, and helps companies identify, document, monitor and follow up on critical control points.

And with MAXFood Cloud ERP, employees can have real-time visibility and anytime, anywhere access to the critical business data they need to be successful - without compromising functionality or security.

New MAXFood ERP Website: Food Safety for Microsoft Dynamics AX

We are excited to announce the launch of our new MAXFood ERP website: http://www.maxfoodsoftware.com.

The new site provides a fresh new look and feel meant to enhance the overall user experience. It has been updated with new product information, demos, white papers, and deeper, more content-rich landing pages.

MAXFood Safety ERP streamlines how food companies operate according to the guidelines of the Food Safety Modernization Act, and according to Good Manufacturing Processes. MAXFood Safety provides more than just lot traceability and corrective actions; it enables you to identify, document, monitor and follow up on critical control points, thereby supporting compliance with even the most stringent regulations and reporting requirements, including GFSI and SQF protocols.

Learn more about MAXFood Safety:

  • Food Safety Portal: Increase control over operations, reduce the cost of compliance, and increase productivity with one integrated quality control and food safety document management solution for HACCP, Recalls, SOPs, Incidents, Audits, Complaints, GMPs and more.
  • Food Safety Incident Management: Quickly generate a Corrective Action or Preventive Action request that routes through review, root cause, corrective action taken, and verification stages. Generate multiple Food Safety Incident reports automatically, providing an effective mechanism for tracking the source and costs of problems.
  • Food Recall Management Workbench: Streamline and automate the recall process, enabling you to not only perform effective product recalls, but to provide concrete documentation and proof that you followed all FDA GMP mandated recall procedures.

With MAXFood for Microsoft Dynamics AX, food companies can minimize risk, maximize product safety, and deliver greater value to their customers. And with MAXFood Cloud ERP, you can also give your employees real-time visibility and anytime, anywhere access to the critical business data they need to be successful - without compromising functionality or security.

Food Safety Incident Management Software

Food and Beverage companies are required to detect and react to Food Safety Incidents (non-conformances) and ensure that appropriate actions are taken to correct and prevent future occurrences. Still, more than half of the FDA warning letters cite Corrective Action / Preventive Action deficiencies.

The common pitfalls and challenges of a Food Safety Incident Management system include:

  • Inability to link related problems
  • Inconsistent investigation process
  • Confusion over the difference between Corrective Action and Preventive Action
  • Time-consuming approval process
  • Changes to the action plan mid-stream
  • No means to generate metrics

Benefits of MAXFood's Food Safety Incident Management capability:

  • Quickly document Food Safety non-conformances and record all relevant incident information.
  • Automate the processes of assigning non-conformances, investigations, and corrective actions.
  • Improve management of Food Safety Incidents with root cause analysis and real-time trend reporting on food safety issues.
  • Streamline compliance with food safety regulations, including HACCP, SQF, and ISO.
  • Improve brand loyalty and customer satisfaction by continuously improving food safety and responding quickly to potential incidents.

MAXFood's Food Safety Incident Management capabilities enable you to increase control and assuredness for how your organization operates. With MAXFood, you can generate a Corrective Action or Preventive Action request that routes through review, root cause, corrective action taken, and verification stages. This Corrective Action tracking software generates multiple reports automatically, providing an effective mechanism for tracking the source and costs of problems.

Using a systematic approach to correcting and preventing issues, measuring the outcome and continuously monitoring the system can ensure that a company is compliant, effective and efficient. And, having a well-thought-out Food Safety Incident Management system can result in successful audits, fewer investigations, less product loss, better customer satisfaction, and an increase in overall operational efficiencies.

Food Safety: How Can ERP Make A Difference in a Recall?

Last month, I published a blog article entitled “The Food Safety Modernization Act: One Year Review”. In the article, I talked about the profound impact this historic legislature has had on food producers and processors in the past year.

This month, we want to discuss how a food industry-specific ERP system can help make a difference in a recall or alert situation.

Food safety recalls are not predictable - they can happen at the best of times, or the worst of times. At any given moment, food companies must be able to quickly and effectively recall products that have been deemed unsafe for the market. How a company responds to these situations is critical: failure to handle a recall successfully (either voluntary or mandatory) can have serious economic and legal consequences. With the ever increasing levels of press and public backlash associated with Food Safety and Food Recalls, it is becoming even more important for Food companies to have the proper Recall Management processes in place. Unfortunately, few Food companies today are ready to handle a recall, and are putting their company at risk.

This is not to say that all food companies must have end-to-end food safety ERP or recall management systems. In fact, there are more food companies running on spreadsheets and manual paper processes than on industry-specific ERP. However, as these companies grow, as their business processes become more complex, as top retailers become more demanding, and as food safety protocols like GFSI and SQF keep increasing process standards - it will become more difficult for these companies to manage the two key requirements for a good recall process:

  • Recall Accuracy - Companies need to be able to respond to recalls intelligently, pulling 100% of the tainted product and 0% of products that pose no danger to consumers.
  • Recall Response Times - Companies need to be able to perform recalls and notify clients, vendors, and government agencies in the least amount of time as possible.
So how can food processors solve some of these issues with an industry-specific ERP and recall management system, like MAXFood ERP?

A good recall response requires the right mix of business tools, processes, and employee training. The correct tools (like end-to-end ERP and recall management systems) will make it easier for employees to do their job quickly and accurately. They will enforce workflows and controls that ensure the proper business processes are being followed in accordance to FDA, GFSI, SQF, and other regulations and standards. A lot of legacy systems and paper based systems don’t enforce the correct business processes, and therefore make it extremely difficult for companies to perform accurate, timely recalls. Companies using these systems want to adapt best practices and run their business more efficiently - but they don’t have the systems to support those business process changes. And personnel responsible for identifying failures or food contamination need to have a background of education and experience, or a combination thereof, to provide a high level of expertise necessary for the production and distribution of clean and safe food.

MAXFood ERP and its Recall Workbench streamline and automate the recall process, enabling companies to not only perform effective product recalls, but to provide concrete documentation and proof that your company followed all FDA recall procedures. By using MAXFood ERP, companies are given full transparency into the recall process, allowing them to better track the status of a recall, confirm that all of the recalled product was pulled, and quickly notify the customers affected by the recall.

Choosing an industry-specific ERP solution with comprehensive, end-to-end recall management functionality positions a company to plan their entire recall process in advance, to perform mock recalls proactively or at a customer / regulator’s demands, to constantly measure and improve the recall process and, most importantly, to respond rapidly, accurately, and thoroughly if an actual recall is required.

Recalls are expensive - both in terms of product cost and brand / reputation damage. Having the right ERP and recall management system can enable food processors to minimize the costs of a recall, and prevent further damage.

The Food Safety Modernization Act: One Year Later

Since President Obama signed the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) on January 4, 2011, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has made significant progress in developing proposed rules to implement the sweeping food safety reform law, publishing mandated reports, and taking important steps toward increasing overall food safety capacity in the United States. Below are brief summaries of what FDA has accomplished to date.

Highlights of FSMA during 2011:

  • Issued interim final rules on criteria for administrative detention and used this authority three times; issued interim final rules on prior notice of imported food.
  • Issued guidance to the seafood industry on food safety hazards and to the dietary supplement industry regarding new dietary ingredients.
  • Conducted extensive domestic and foreign outreach to all stakeholders to receive input in developing the proposed preventive control rules.
  • Established the Produce Safety Alliance and the Food Safety Preventive Controls Alliance.
  • Met the FSMA mandate for foreign food safety inspections, and is well on its way to meeting the 5-year inspection frequency mandate for high-risk domestic food facilities.
  • Continued to build State-Federal and global partnerships.

Moving forward, the ability to track and trace ingredients is likely going to be a major focus for food manufacturers as the FSMA is rolled out. The days of brand recognition alone will be long gone; worldwide, all the major producers of food products will now need to focus on brand reputation as well as brand recognition. Government authorities will be requiring companies to track and trace all products to the original point of origin. Today, companies only track goods at convenient points in the supply chain, such as when one ingredient leaves the warehouse and when it arrives in the manufacturing plant. Expect the future to mandate much tighter controls.

From a systems perspective, none of the Tier 1 or Tier 2 ERP vendors have announced a system that supports the mandates of the FSMA. True winners in ERP solutions will be vendors that can provide material and routing information that identifies critical control points in the manufacturing process. Likewise, the system will also need to be made aware of potential new hazardous and other airborne bacteria identified as risks. To date, the only systems tool to support the food safety initiative that is approved by the GSFI is a document management system that is not integrated to the ERP or quality management systems. While many of the Tier 1 and Tier 2 ERP vendors are hosting Food Safety webcasts, none of them are proposing a resolution for the complexity that the FDA is now mandating.

Stay tuned in the coming weeks as Merit Solutions will offer a new perspective on how Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 will support the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2012!

Food Recall Management for Microsoft Dynamics AX

Customer demands and regulatory requirements relating to food safety are accelerating every day. The bar is going up and everyone in the industry will soon be scrambling to find and implement systems that satisfy these new demands... that is, if they’re not already panicking!

One new requirement is the Food Safety Modernization Act signed by President Obama in January of 2011, which mandates that all food companies must have Food Safety Management systems in place, including document control, HACCP and recall. This is the biggest change to Food Safety legislation in over 60 years.

Another is The Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI), which is a collaboration between some of the world's leading food safety experts from retailer, manufacturer and food service companies, as well as service providers associated with the food supply chain. It is coordinated by The Consumer Goods Forum, the only independent global network for consumer goods retailers and manufacturers worldwide. It serves the CEOs and senior management teams of nearly 400 members, in over 150 countries. Most major retailers mandate suppliers follow one of the 8 protocols supported by GFSI, which includes SQF and variants of ISO22000. These standards are very similar to the FSMA recently set by the FDA.

The bottom line: you don’t want to be one of the food manufacturers caught without adequate Food Safety and Food Recall ERP systems!

That's why we're so excited about the MAXFood Recall Workbench.

The MAXFood Recall Workbench exists for one purpose – to go beyond lot track and trace to enable extremely fast recall functionality. A common challenge for organizations is the quick response to client requests for “test” recalls. Many companies are making the ability to perform a quick recall a key performance metric for their suppliers. You are probably subject to this testing from your customers. Non-performance during test recalls puts your customer relationship at risk. You could lose your customers if you are unable to perform.

We reduce risk to you if your firm is subject to recall testing from your customers. Imagine being able to answer a test recall within minutes – this should improve your vendor performance score and your customer relationship. The MAXFood Recall Workbench goes beyond the time consuming labor of either paper or system based lot track and trace functionality. It provides a Rapid Food Recall capability for:

  • Recalling product shipped to customers.
  • Stopping production for any affected in-process manufacturing orders.
  • Finding and quarantining any on-hand batches subject to a recall.
  • Quarantine and Vendor notification for problem raw material lots.

Normal lot track and trace works just fine, and is an improvement over paper-based lot tracking systems. But lot track and trace doesn’t save time when customers have to be notified or on hand inventory must be quarantined. It just gives you a list of orders or inventory – then someone has to print the list, and enter transactions.

The MAXFood Recall Workbench saves companies time and money by automating and streamling the entire Food Recall process!

Need Food Safety Cloud ERP?

The Centers for Disease Control reports that as many as 76 million illnesses are caused by food contamination every year in the United States. In addition to the public cost, the impact of food safety lapses can be devastating within the food industry. While many food industry executives think of regulatory penalties as a risk, the major risks are potential shutdowns or, even worse, damage to brands and companies.

MAXFood Cloud ERP enables food manufacturing and distribution companies to meet constantly changing stringent quality and safety compliance regulations while making products faster, safer, and at more competitive costs. MAXFood Cloud ERP provides a complete, enterprise wide business software solution designed to reduce an organization's total cost of ownership and improve profitability.

For companies that need Food Safety ERP, MAXFood Cloud combines built in quality processes and recall procedures with advanced lot tracking capabilities to efficiently manage raw materials and ensure food safety.

  • Forward and Backward Lot Traceability
  • Food Recall Workbench
  • Production Specifications Reporting
  • Support for compliance with HACCP, GFSI, and SQF protocols

Learn more about MAXFood Safety Cloud ERP.

Upcoming Webinar: Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 for Food

Please join Merit Solutions on Wednesday, October 26th at 11am CST for our Food Industry Webinar: Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 for Food!

Find out how Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 helps medium to large manufacturers and distributors in the food industry to monitor food safety, streamline business processes, and enhance customer responsiveness. This next generation ERP provides a complete, enterprise wide business software solution designed to reduce an organization's total cost of ownership and improve profitability. See how Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 can impact your whole food organization - from finance and accounting to inventory, production, and distribution.

Register now!

Food Webinar Tomorrow - Register Now!

There's still time to register and attend tomorrow's Microsoft / Aberdeen Food Webinar: Food and Beverage: Preparing for Growth and Living with Change.

Join Michael Shoemaker, Director of Microsoft’s Distribution & Consumer Goods Industry Development and Kevin Prouty, Research Director for Enterprise Applications and Manufacturing Industries with Aberdeen Group, as they discuss Food and Beverage: Preparing for Growth and Living with Change. As the economy swings into recovery mode, Food and Beverage companies are getting ready for growth in both their organization and their technology infrastructure. But change and market volatility have become a way of life. From data derived from Aberdeen's rigorous research methodology, we will show that managing change, along with managing growth, are the most important challenges that Food and Beverage companies face.

In this webinar, you will see benchmark data that highlights how successful organizations respond to their challenges through Best-in-Class strategies. The speakers will also examine what capabilities and enabling technologies these successful Food and Beverage companies bring to bear to drive their strategies. You will learn how these organizations prepare themselves for growth while striving to live in a world of constant change.

Finally, the speakers will discuss how top manufacturers are answering some of the most pressing technology questions in the industry today, including:

  • What technologies to focus on to support your business strategies?
  • How do successful companies prepare for constant change in the market?
  • What benefits should you be getting from your ERP system?
  • Does social media play a role in collaboration with the business?
  • What should you do organizationally to get the most out of your systems?

Register now:
Food and Beverage: Preparing for Growth and Living with Change