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Manufacturing journalist, Thomas R. Cutler recently contributed a feature article titled, “FSMA: Nearly Two Years Later”. According to Cutler, “January 2013 will mark the two year anniversary since President Obama signed the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). Some in the food industry applaud the effort, others are critical.” Greg Braun, Director with Houston-based Systems Application Engineering (SAE) observed, “The food industry is falling into three general camps…the most forward leaning companies are already moving with FSMA preventive control preparation. This is partly because these companies want to be ahead and partly because much of FSMA preventive control requirements make a lot of sense for protecting a company’s brand. The second group is the “wait and see” group – those who simply don’t want to take FSMA seriously until they have to; and the third group are those who simply have not seen FSMA coming and happily have their heads in the sand – for now.”
There is little dispute that all food companies strive to provide safe and reliable product. Some companies are going to invest in technology and go to the extreme in order to provide their customers with the safest possible product. Some savvy food executives recognize this attention to safety and quality is a wise brand marketing strategy providing a market differentiator from the competition. Braun believes that there is a “feel good” message built into the FSMA regulatory requirement.
This complete chain of custody tracking is precisely the metric required by FSMA. Braun also suggested that, “Global Location Number or GLN information should be updated so each lot item is accounted for providing step forward and step backward traceability. In the event of a recall, drivers can be dispatched to customers that received the tainted product to retrieve the recalled items. The driver has the ability to scan the GS1 case label to make sure that the recalled item by lot is being captured for return and non-recall item can stay with the customer.”
Braun noted the importance of tracing systems that are GS1 compliant for traceability. He also suggested that, “By combining scanning with voice guided technology best-practice solutions capture traceability elements from the GS1 barcode on an item-by-item basis (providing immediate feedback where each case has gone).” Trying to do this with pure voice recognition technology would be too slow and prone to error. Total case level traceability from the pick slot to the customer makes food manufacturers and distributors audit ready and able to respond on-demand to an FDA audit under
SAE supports GS1 because it ensures interoperability with trading partners and allows efficient recall or tracing of raw materials origin from upstream suppliers. This business process standard describes the traceability process and defines minimum requirements for companies of all sizes across industry sectors.