Dr Philip Ashurst is a Food Industry Consultant with over 40 years of experience in the food manufacturing industry. Philip Ashurst has prepared a paper on Food Manufacturing and the Changing Regulatory Environment. This paper emphasises on different types of food software solutions available from Sanderson Australia as well as food manufacturing practices.
To the consumer, food is usually bought in a shop or restaurant and is eaten for sustenance and enjoyment. However, to a member of the legal profession, food has a rather different definition. Food can include drink, articles of no nutritional value used for human consumption and importantly, articles and substances used as ingredients in the preparation of food.
The inclusion of ingredients means that the statutory rules and regulations governing food manufacture cover much more than the finished product. Many companies manufacture food ingredients, such as additives, with important functions in the finished food. These additives include synthetic chemicals which could not remotely be considered as food. Yet the end product is still a synthetic chemical substance that becomes food by statutory definition; despite the fact that it could not be consumed directly or may even be toxic unless used in minute quantities.
The total number of companies producing food is much greater than those producing what is recognised by the consumer as food. Food manufacturers throughout the supply chain must now face the obligations and issues surrounding the production of food and a culture of regulation, risk assessment, inspection and compliance.
At the consumer end, food products must be appropriately packaged and labelled with nutritional and batch information in order to identify products in the event of a defect being discovered. Thus any manufacturer in the supply chain (including manufacturers of ingredients) must be able to trace each component of each batch of material in terms of at least one step up the chain (the supplier) or one step down the chain (the customer).
Traceability covers a broad spectrum. For example, any system must be able to identify the course of a contaminant. Traceability is also used to confirm that all ingredients in a product designated for example, organic, meet the required standard. There are now so many concerns relating to the production of food that the traceability system employed must be tailored to meet the specific requirements of the company concerned as well as basic legal obligations.
Many manufacturers now insist on the ingredients (and thus products) being GMO-Free, so systems must be capable of tracing the origin of all ingredients. Any allergen declared on food labels and the country of origin of the main component must also be traceable.
The key requirement of any traceability system, which must be linked to the company’s procurement, stockholding, manufacturing and quality control system, must be speed of response. Manufacturers must be capable of carrying out a full traceability scan to effect a product recall within as short a period as possible, certainly no longer than 24 hours.