The stated theme for this issue is Managing Your Supply Chain with a focus on all the “TRs”—transportation, tracking, transparency, and traceability—that examining such a subject entails. But as the interviews were conducted and the articles written, an unintentional, underlying theme developed: The importance of proactive action by the industry.
The need for the industry, as well as individual food and beverage processors, to take a proactive stance toward food protection came up in the discussions on virtually every topic and article: Taking cohesive action to set standards before they are set for you (Transportation, pg. 14); linking your supply chain before there is a problem (Tracking and Traceability, pg. 44); reviewing your quality practices beyond audit specifications (Advisory Board, pg. 66); and increasing sanitation to prevent small fly adulteration (The Usual Suspects, pg. 60).
In all cases, the warning against lack of action is the same: If you don’t help create something you can live with, you may end up with something you can’t. That is: FSMA or transportation regulations that are less than practical for your operations; traceability guidance causing you to revamp your entire system; increased audit requirements for which you’re not prepared; or a citation for adulterated product due to small fruit fly presence.
On the positive side, the continuing crusade toward proactive food protection is being seen as a benefit by forward-looking processors who seek to go beyond compliance and take advantage of new practices, systems, and technologies to make their processes even better (Tracking and Traceability, pg. 44).
It is a direction toward which the industry has been evolving for several years, in part, self driven and, in part, grudgingly pulled by external forces, including customers, consumers, and government. But it is a drive and a call that is getting stronger and louder, both internally and externally, so that those who are not looking ahead and seeking to be an active part of the answer are likely to find their processes grinding to a halt with questions.
The author is Editor of QA magazine. She can be reached at email@example.com.