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How to Win a Food Fight with the Competition: Quality & Compliance

Smart Manufacturing, Food & Beverage, Quality Management System (QMS)
June 18, 2024

Have you ever sat down at a local restaurant and ordered your favorite meal, only to discover a change in the recipe or ingredients has completely altered the taste? You’re now a thoroughly unsatisfied customer – even if there are plenty of good reasons for menu changes behind the scenes.

That same scenario plays out at all levels of the food & beverage manufacturing industry, with the quality impact of changes working their way down to the customer and reducing satisfaction. However, taking the right approach can prepare your team to tackle any changes that come your way without compromising on quality.

The Rapidly Evolving Food & Beverage Compliance Landscape

Ideally, you’ll keep your output steady to maintain quality and avoid potential complaints. That’s a tough task on its own, requiring careful production monitoring and supply chain planning. However, some changes are entirely out of your control.

The food & beverage industry is subject to a wide range of regulations, and rightfully so, considering the potential for health risks. Your team has to stay in line with FDA Current Good Manufacturing Practice (CGMP) regulations and avoid compliance issues by following a variety of standards such as Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), Safe Quality Food (SQF), British Retail Consortium (BRC), ISO 22000, and Food Safety System Certification (FSSC).

This might still sound manageable, but the real challenges come when these regulations and standards change. When that happens, your operations must also change – ready or not.

The Traditional Approach: Reactive Compliance

The traditional solution has been to spring into action as quickly as possible when regulatory changes arise, making manual updates to recipes and processes. With so little time and no preparation, this often leads to compromises in quality that impacts the final product.

There’s also an increased risk of errors and oversights that lead to non-compliance. With so many systems for managing different aspects of your operations, it’s all too easy to overlook seemingly minor details like updating labels, communicating new workflows, or omitting documentation. Unfortunately, this reasoning gets you little sympathy from the FDA and other regulators.

The Smart Solution: Proactive Compliance

Instead of scrambling to catch up, you can take a proactive approach to compliance and quality management. With Plex’s Smart Manufacturing Platform, your team has a unified system that provides all the tools you need to manage regulatory changes without compromising quality.

First, you can automate the enforcement of your HACCP/HARPC plans by continuously monitoring critical control points. This reduces the risk of non-compliant products working their way through, ensuring food safety.

Achieving real-time traceability with lot track-and-trace capabilities lets you trace ingredients from their initial source to the final product. You maintain complete visibility and can initiate an efficient recall at a moment’s notice.

Automated data collection ensures that you maintain proper documentation for compliance at all times while letting your team focus on more value-added tasks. You can automate your quality checksheets to streamline audits and comply with all regulatory requirements.

This proactive approach protects your organization when new compliance practices - like the approaching January 2026 compliance deadline of FSMA Rule 204 on food traceability - need to be implemented in a hurry, without compromising the consistent quality your buyers demand.

Staying Ahead of Compliance Issues With Smart Manufacturing

With Plex’s Smart Manufacturing Platform, you have a complete quality control package in one. You can easily keep up with the latest food & beverage manufacturing regulations and standards, and implement supplier quality management and real-time production monitoring to optimize quality.

Interested in seeing the real-world impact of Plex MES for yourself? Take a look at our case study featuring Hausbeck Pickles and Peppers to discover just how much Plex benefits food & beverage manufacturing operations.

About the Author

Plex Team

Plex Systems, Inc., a Rockwell Automation company, is the leader in cloud-delivered smart manufacturing solutions, empowering the world’s manufacturers to make awesome products. Our platform gives manufacturers the ability to connect, automate, track and analyze every aspect of their business to drive transformation. The Plex Smart Manufacturing Platform includes solutions for manufacturing execution (MES), ERP, quality, supply chain planning and management, Industrial IoT and analytics to connect people, systems, machines, and supply chains, enabling them to lead with precision, efficiency and agility.