Food Safety & Traceability: What Will it Look Like in 2017?

Many cases of food contamination kept the detection, response, recovery and prevention of food recalls in the news. And traceability in food safety was a hot topic within the supply chain this year. The first set of FSMA rules was only released by the FDA this September. As a result, manufacturers enter the New Year continuing to work towards compliance. On their heels are concerns about handling allergens and food packaging chemicals. Thus, 2017 might see a push for food safety beyond processing and into labeling and packaging. How will we realize traceability in food safety?
Packaging Moves the Forefront
Thus far, most food safety measures have focused on the sourcing and preparation of food. As such, packaging has not been front and center in the food safety conversation. This is despite the fact that it’s a critical component in the safety of consumer products. Food packaging and labeling constitute almost as many quality concerns as food processing. Missing ingredients details, and chemicals used in containers and packaging can all impact safety. All these aspects are critical to the safety of our food. As a result, each has attracted the attention of consumers, regulators, and the media alike.
These concerns continue to trickle down throughout the supply chain. Moving forward, food manufacturers should be reviewing standards and initiating risk-assessments. Specifically, evaluating their packaging suppliers should be a priority. For some manufacturers, efforts to track the origin of ingredients through processing may no longer be enough. Traceability records might also have to contain information about their packaging.
The Food & Beverage industry continues to streamline and automate quality and traceability. As such, the need will grow for the packaging industry as well. Large consumer packaged goods companies have begun to see the writing on the wall. As a result they’ve formed the Food Safety Alliance for Packaging. This organization is a technical committee of the IoPP (Institute of Packaging Professionals.) Their initiative has developed HACCP models for packaging material categories. Specifically, cartons, rigid plastics, cut and stack labels and composite cans.
The Impact of Globalization
It should come as no surprise that the globalization of food distribution is on the rise. Thus, it’s more important than ever to consider the vital role packaging plays in food safety. Over the coming years packaging suppliers might see more demand for traceability data. Also, they might be expected to adhere to new safety and quality standards. Too, GSFI certification requirements might become the norm in order to do business.
It’s safe to assume that food safety will be just as important in the New Year as it’s been in years prior. We will continue to see standards and requirements trickle down within the industry. These standards affect food manufacturers and the suppliers who support them. Customers will encourage, if not mandate, companies to follow FEMA guidelines.
Technology to the Rescue
However, the technology industry has been developing ways to help companies be compliant. These solutions include “food to fork” ingredient tracking, or full traceability platforms. As a result, food and beverage manufacturers have tools to access critical traceability in food safety. The industry gains greater inventory visibility, automated data collection and streamlined processes. 
Contributed by Amanda M. Smith, Radley Corporation