A new era of food safety is on the horizon, and the FDA is looking into technology and innovative approaches to solve some of the most significant food safety challenges in established and emerging markets. In its recently released blueprint, “Food for Thought: Ideas on How to Begin a New Era of Smarter Food Safety,” the FDA outlines four key areas of focus:
Tech-enabled traceability and foodborne outbreak response
Smarter tools and approaches for prevention
New business models and retail modernization
Food safety culture
Most impactful, and perhaps most disruptive, is likely the FDA’s heavy emphasis on modernizing food traceability by leveraging automated systems, enabling manufacturers to trace contaminated lots in minutes and seconds, rather than days and weeks.
While many large manufacturers have embraced solutions that automate traceability (either standalone or within an ERP/MRP), a significant majority of small and mid-size manufacturers are still using manual or Excel-based tracking. For many, it made practical sense in the early stages of operations when the cost and complexity of automation far outweighed the need. However, as a business expands its product offerings, adding suppliers and distributors, tracking becomes cumbersome. Resolving the issue is then paramount, yet constraints are threefold: a lack of budget, time, and personnel to research, implement, and learn a new system.
Timing is everything.
With the popularity of subscription software applications that provide traceability (along with many other tools) at a fraction of the cost of legacy manufacturing solutions, the FDA’s blueprint couldn’t have come out at a better time.
Emerging food and beverage companies that implement a system early benefit from not only traceability but also many other automated tasks, such as recipe and inventory management, and, more importantly, standardization, giving them more bang for their buck.
By embracing an automated traceability solution now, small and mid-size organizations can get ahead of future FDA requirements, respond quickly to recalls, and use this as an opportunity to start automating tasks, freeing up resources, and becoming strategic about growth. Some solutions focus solely on traceability, while other solutions, such as Wherefour, offer additional functionality tools around forecast planning and inventory and supply management at a very reasonable cost.
Simply put, the traceability game has changed, and the value of automated traceability, before, during, and after a recall, is immense.
What are your takeaways from the FDA’s New Era Blueprint? Please share your thoughts in the comments.