It might seem as if the world has been idling in some form of neutral for the past year, waiting for normal practices to resume. Yet important food safety regulations and standards have been updated and released for quality assurance, with implications for food and beverage manufacturers.
By staying updated on global standards and regulations and by implementing measures like x-ray technologies, manufacturers can ensure product safety and stay compliant, thereby protecting their business and their bottom line. Some of the changes in food safety regulations have been on the calendar for a while. Others have been updated in light of certain circumstances. Either way, adherence can mean the difference between business success and business setbacks.
Here are some relevant regulations coming up this year related to hazard control, the use of remote audits, traceability and a strong food safety and quality assurance culture:
Certification schemes that address hazard control in consumable products have been updated.
ISO 22000: Due to the ongoing pandemic, the transition period for changing over accredited certifications from ISO 22000:2005 to ISO 22000:2018 has been extended to Dec. 29, 2021. Ultimately, ISO outlines what manufacturers must do to demonstrate their ability to control food safety hazards.
FSSC 22000: In November 2020, the FSSC published Version 5.1 of its FSSC 22000 certification scheme to comply with the latest benchmarking requirements of the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) . FSSC 22000 is a GFSI-benchmarked certification scheme, differentiating it from ISO 22000. The new version of FSSC also aligns more closely with the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) in the U.S. Among other updates, the revised FSSC 22000 includes a new clause on the management of purchased materials, requiring a documented procedure for procurement in an emergency situation to ensure that products still conform to specified requirements and that the supplier has been evaluated. The updated version also features language on the evaluation of the impact of product changes on a food safety management system, taking into account any new food safety hazards that might be introduced.
The use of remote audits during the global health crisis has been addressed and, in some cases, extended.
GFSI: Recognizing the ongoing impact of the pandemic, GFSI updated its position on GFSI-recognized audits and certifications. The organization issued new Benchmark Requirements version 2020.1 late 2020 to include the use of communication technologies in audits. In addition, certifications can be extended for six months if the certification program owner (CPO) believes that is a suitable option based on a risk assessment. Although fully remote food safety audits are not currently recognized by GFSI, the organization did state that suppliers and customers can work together to agree on measures to assess risks without audit verification.
Traceability is addressed in food safety regulations, including its role in recordkeeping.
FSMA: As part of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has proposed a new rule with additional traceability recordkeeping requirements for those who manufacture, process, pack or hold foods that the FDA has included on its Food Traceability List in the U.S. The proposed rule, “Requirements for Additional Traceability Records for Certain Foods”, is part of the government’s New Era of Smarter Food Safety Blueprint and was created to quickly identify food safety problems. The Food Traceability List includes products such as cheese (other than hard cheeses), leafy greens, nut butter, melons, peppers, tropical tree fruits, fin fish, crustaceans and ready to eat deli salads, among other items.
Culture of Food Safety
The importance of a strong food safety culture has been emphasized in recent years, including as a key requirement of the BRCGS Global Standard Issue 8 for food safety.
SQF: A demonstrated commitment to a strong food safety and quality assurance culture is also a new requirement in the SQF Code Edition 9 for audits starting on May 24, 2021. The code is issued by the Safe Quality Food Institute, a division of FMI, the Food Industry Association. In addition, SQF has revised audit durations for food manufacturing to be two days onsite audit time, with one day onsite for packaging.
Inspection Systems Aid Compliance
Of course, in addition to keeping your eye on the ball by understanding the latest changes, you must adhere to updated standards and requirements using the best available technologies. Advanced inspection systems are important tools that help keep products safe and demonstrate compliance with standards.
X-ray machines control food safety hazards and also validate, verify and document a company’s effort to keep their products safe for human consumption. In addition, multifunctional x-ray machines provide food quality assurance and, through advanced TraceServer™ software, provide traceability for better recordkeeping across diverse product portfolios. Leveraging a multifunctional inspection system and integrating it with other food production and processing systems on the line delivers both peace of mind and cost efficiencies, with reduced downtime, labor savings and improved process flow.
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