Risk seems to be the new buzzword in the Food and Beverage industry. Whether you are talking about the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), Hazard Analysis and Risk-based Preventive Controls (HARPC), ISO standards or Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) certification, identifying and mitigating risk is a top priority for all of us. Risk has become the focal point for compliance initiatives. And risk assessment is becoming more complex as our supply chain expands. It is important to look at risk within your own facilities and it is becoming more critical than ever to also look at it throughout the whole supply chain, from farm to fork. Thankfully technology has been evolving to help address this increased risk focus. You must look beyond Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) to manage your hazards, and using risk management tools will ensure you have covered all your bases.
So, what do we Mean by Risk Management?
Risk assessment and prioritization determines the probability, severity and impact of risk to your business. It should also identify how quickly any given problem can be recognized and addressed.
If you are looking for an automated Food Safety Management System (FSMS) solution to assist with your risk-based preventive controls program, it is important that you look for a strong risk management tool that is integrated throughout the food safety process applications.
There are a number of areas within the supply chain that you should focus on when assessing risk. Below are just a few examples.
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You will need to ensure you build strategic relationships with your external partners (suppliers, contract manufacturers, service providers, etc.) across the supply chain. Many often rely heavily on these outside partners but don’t always have the same visibility or control as they do within their own internal processes. Building trust through good communication and collaboration is essential in knowing you can rely on your partners to do the right thing for both you and themselves.
There are many hazards that can be introduced into a facility through raw materials, whether in the form of raw ingredients, packaging materials, chemicals or other components used to produce your product. Some hazards to assess include pathogens, allergens, chemical residues, pests, and foreign material.
Storage & Handling
There are three hazards that are key to address when looking at risk during Storage and Handling.
- Allergen Control: It is critical that you have defined, documented and trained your employees on your Allergen Control program to ensure proper storage, handling and cleanup occurs at all times.
- Temperature Control: Temperature control during Storage and Handling tends to be a part of your pre-requisite program but will still require close monitoring and documentation to ensure that you’re compliant with both regulatory and internal requirements.
- Foreign Material Control: A comprehensive Foreign Material Control program should take into account all the different physical hazards that could pose a risk to food safety—metal, wood, glass, brittle plastic, etc. Employees should receive routine training on your program to ensure attention is laser focused on this at all times.
There a number of areas in processing that can introduce hazards and therefore should be included in your risk assessment. Improper sanitation can lead to potential issues from pathogens, allergens or chemical residues. Cross contamination/contact can occur due to improper handling of equipment, tools, ingredients, etc. Foreign material contamination could get missed if proper testing and monitoring processes aren’t completed. CCP deviation could lead to identified hazards not being properly controlled. Prerequisite program failures can lead to control points not being managed. Mislabeling could be overlooked if proper employee training is not provided. Ensure that your FSMS program addresses each of these areas and provides for corrective and preventive actions (CAPA) should deviations or non-conformances occur.
Lastly, you will need to safeguard your Shipping and Transportation procedures in order to account for any potential risk once the product has left your facility. Areas to consider during your risk assessment include:
- Temperature Control: Is the vehicle at the right temperature, are your products stored in the right location on the vehicle?
- Truck/Storage Unit Conditions: Is there any dirt/debris, signs of pests, damage, leaks, or moisture?
- Truck/Storage Unit Sanitation: Is the vehicle clean, well-maintained and free of any off odors, if a tanker – what was previously carried and was it a hazard?
- Loading/Unloading Practices: Are food items being load/unloaded without incurring damage?
- Security/Tampering: Has the load be properly secured to avoid tampering?
- Accident/Emergency Recovery: How will you respond if the vehicle is in an accident, what is your emergency plan?
- Traceability: Have you ensured traceability will be maintained through the distribution cycle?
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