The rapid evolution of today’s global food market and the rate of new food trends means manufacturers are constantly at risk of violating food safety standards. The 2022 FDA Food Code was released in January 2022 and provides a comprehensive set of guidelines for ensuring the safety of food products amidst all these changes.
The number one reason for food-related recalls is due to product labeling mistakes. These mistakes are typically a result of the ever-changing food labeling regulations that continue to evolve and become more complex, forcing many manufacturers to quickly update their current operating practices. Without the proper checks in place, incorrect product information is being sent out. The risk of a label error goes beyond a recall - if not quickly detected, it could impact consumer health (for example, an undisclosed allergen), damaging your brand reputation.
Manufacturers are always at risk of recall because at any time, at any location along the supply chain, the FDA may sample a product for contamination. Recall preparation involves more input and supply chain alignment than HACCP plans. This is mainly because recalls have elements that manufacturers cannot control, whereas HACCP plans run on their own if production is stable.
In November, the FDA released the final Food Traceability Rule, detailing the requirements for record-keeping of foods on the Food Traceability List (FTL). The purpose of the Food Traceability Rule is to make it faster and easier for the FDA and other regulators to pinpoint locations in the supply chain where food contamination occurs.
During a FSMA presentation covering updates to PFAS regulations, the Director of Food Safety at the Acheson Group, Dr. Brent Kobielush, shared updates to PFAS regulations in an effort to equip attendees with the information needed to operate their companies proactively and feel prepared for the future.
There are three essential aspects for driving food safety training for a diverse workforce: accessibility, inclusivity, and dynamic responsiveness. The key to food safety education is to meet people where they are and commit to food safety training and education. Document everything: if it doesn’t get documented, then it didn’t happen. For good food safety education to work, there has to be a commitment from the top down, but also a bottom-up education and knowledge transfer. The employees on the floor should be an integral part of the food safety training curriculum. This approach is similar to cultivating a food safety culture.
Traceability is a tool, and as such, it is not an answer or the solution; it’s a means of getting there. Companies often state that they wish to have greater traceability. It is crucial that companies identify what they hope to achieve with traceability because understanding the goal can guide them in how best to use traceability. As a tool, traceability can be an effective marketing technique or a way to authenticate a product. Companies can also use traceability to increase supply chain efficiency or facilitate simpler and easier recalls. Many companies are examining traceability as a way to improve in all of these areas. The technology exists to support all of these goals, but it is helpful for companies to clarify the goals first before attempting to implement traceability.
Regulations in recent years have sought to assist allergen-aware consumers by requiring changes in labeling to reflect individual ingredients and sourcing, but challenges remain in creating labeling clarity and providing relatable education that can facilitate a better understanding for consumers of what labels mean.
The commitment to understanding and protecting the food allergen consumer continues to be a priority for food manufacturers. The impact from a safety and purchasing standpoint is significant. 32 million Americans live with food allergies that impact their well-being and quality of life. Retail establishments, food companies are key players in building empathy and trust with the customer.
Modern impressions of the word ‘chemical’ are often negative. Consumers often express disgust, fear, and other negative emotions. Data suggests that consumers have many misconceptions about chemicals, which drive negative feelings about chemicals. Some of the confusion may stem from how the food industry characterizes chemicals. For example, an ingredient deck can be misleading. Consumers may perceive a shortlist of only four or five ingredients to be a cleaner food, but in fact, there are harmful substances that only require four or five ingredients, and there are healthy foods that include dozens of ingredients.