Five challenges for process manufacturers in the food and beverage industry

Process manufacturers face problems keeping up with strict regulations in labeling, traceablility, recipe management, and the manufacturing process.
By Analiese Trimber June 25, 2017

Image courtesy: Bob Vavra, CFE MediaProcess manufacturers working in the food, pharmaceutical, and chemical enterprise resource planning (ERP) spaces face difficult and stringent requirements from both regulatory agencies such as the FDA, GFSI, USDA, etc.—and customers.

Customer requirements may oftentimes be more demanding than ones put in place by the government, which is reflective of the huge food moment the country is currently experiencing. With a new perspective on health and nutrition comes more stringent requirements for process manufacturers that are increasingly more difficult to achieve. For example, certain dietary lifestyles are becoming increasingly popular, like gluten-free and dairy-free diets. There are several steps a manufacturer must take to have their product deemed fully free of gluten, including additional requirements put in place by the FDA to garner their seal of approval.

Not to mention more carefully detailed plant inspections than a regular product.

Another example of a scenario that would greatly benefit from certain technology is in the case of a recall. Several major brands have been forced to recall their products for listeria recently. When a product is recalled, batch management is crucial so the company knows which locations received contaminated product, and how to properly remove said product from stores.

Because of delicate situations like these, the necessity for features and functions that address important issues like quality assurance and recipe management is at an all-time high. Process manufacturers should be aware of potential challenges in these areas. 

1. Ensuring label claims. Food products are required to have nutritional labels. Manufacturers must be able to support the information provided on those labels by being fully transparent about all ingredients used. In the chemical and pharmaceutical industries, the equivalent would be the requirement for nutraceutical supplemental facts panels.

2. Managing labels and reports. For a product to go to market, there are a number of certificates and reports that must be generated. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Authenticity
  • Analysis
  • Quality testing
  • Safety data sheets (SDS)
  • Electronic signatures.

3. Speed traceability. Manufacturers are required to be able to trace raw materials through to the finished product. They also must be able to trace the products in reverse, by tracking back to the raw materials from a finished product. This is especially necessary if there happens to be a recall on a certain product. To accomplish this, the software solution must have adequate lot tracking and serialization capabilities for successful and effective traceability. Supporting traceability requires the ability to drill down into purchase orders, specifications, batch jobs, QC tests, inventory, sales orders, and shipments. Having it well organized and structured appropriately within the system allows for quick analysis.

4. Recipe management and version control. It is important to be able to tightly manage and control recipes and formulas for several reasons, one of which being consistency and making sure every product is identical to another. Or, if a product is altered, exactly how it is altered so it can be replicated if need be. This is executed through version control and detailed approval of material specifications.

5. Managing the manufacturing process. Managing manufacturing-related issues is also important. This includes being able to produce certain documents like non-conformance reports (NCR), root cause analysis, corrective action and preventive action (CAPA).

Analiese Trimber is administrative consultant at Ultra Consultants. This article originally appeared on Ultra Consultants’ blog. Ultra Consultants is a CFE Media content partner. Edited by Carly Marchal, content specialist, CFE Media, cmarchal@cfemedia.com

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