The highly regulated food and beverage industry—with strict quality control standards and increasing product awareness—continues to drive manufacturers to deliver safer consumables than ever before. As a manufacturer, one of the main goals of your business is to ensure the quality and safety of your products. Prior to finished goods reaching the store shelves, manufacturers must adhere to food safety protocols, which is driven by Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP), most effectively implemented within an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system. Utilizing this systematic approach enables manufacturers in reducing and even preventing the contamination of food and beverage products before reaching the hands of consumers.

What is HACCP? 

As a requirement of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), food and beverage manufacturers are required to develop and implement a HACCP plan to address food safety by analyzing and controlling biological, chemical and physical hazards. This includes all processes from raw materials’ production, procurement and handling, to manufacturing, distribution and consumption of the final product.

Preventative measures outlined in a company’s plan should include attainable strategies for avoiding product and material loss before safety is compromised. HACCP has a tremendous impact on food safety by greatly reducing the number of inferior or defective products reaching the market, which eventually lessens the likelihood of a recall and the negative consequences associated with this type of event.

ERP infrastructure for HACCP support

The complexities of HACCP protocols make the procedures difficult to follow without proper infrastructure, such as industry-specific technology and software solutions. By automating processes, following standard operating procedures (SOPs) and observing best practices within an ERP solution, hazards are not only identified and tracked, but can also be reduced, eliminated or prevented from occurring altogether. ERP software provides support with managing HACCP requirements in several areas to meet food safety protocols and procedures.

Data management and record keeping. In order to effectively comply with HACCP protocols, gathering, managing and reporting data is essential and efficiently handled with a real-time ERP solution that can streamline data management in a centralized database. Security is heightened with user-defined permissions for logins and electronic signatures, providing accountability throughout all record-keeping procedures. By maintaining the mandated five years of historical data within the solution, records are immediately available upon request for FDA-compliance check inspections.

Supplier verifications. Established supplier relationships are imperative, as they ensure underlying raw ingredients are of the highest quality and meet established deviation limits. An ERP system maintains the required documents and audits for vendors, automates workflows and ensures materials are handled properly to maintain effective inventory management of raw materials.

Hazard analysis. As a HACCP requirement, it is necessary to compile a list of hazards that can potentially cause illness or injury if not controlled, as well as the preventative measures utilized to control the danger. An ERP solution tracks the data, analysis and reporting of these hazards, including biological, chemical and physical factors that can impact the quality of manufactured products, such as trends over time.

Preventative measures. Some of the leading causes of contamination resulting in a product recall include a lack of documented SOPs, allergen management and sanitary controls. An ERP solution helps automate and document preventative measures performed in material handling, storage and production steps, including lot tracking, stringent sanitation practices and raw material segregation to avoid allergen cross-contact or cross-contamination. 

Critical control points (CCPs). ERP software integrates quality control and recordkeeping of testing and inspections results to further help prevent or eliminate hazards identified during the manufacturing process. Tracking of critical limits, as well as automated alerts, identify exposure before further contamination can occur. Identifying non-conformance events of critical limits is an important aspect of effective HACCP protocols that requires distinguishing, implementing and reporting corrective actions. Comprehensive audit trails ensures conformance to the highest quality standards of HACCP with a detailed level of documentation.  

Traceability. With the forward and backward lot tracking and traceability available in an ERP solution through the entire supply chain from farm-to-fork, this monitoring of CCPs manages raw ingredients and work-in-progress products before deviation occurs. By quarantining items that require further inspection or disposal, it assures that unsafe products do not end up in the hands of consumers. This level of traceability guarantees that if a recall event occurs, products are efficiently located in a timely manner, thus minimizing impact. 

Written recall plan. In conjunction with an integrated ERP system, a recall plan is required for potential food or beverage hazards, detailing notification steps, verification that the recall was conducted and proper disposal of the items. Mock recalls regularly conducted by staff utilizing the recall functionality in an ERP solution ensures familiarity with procedures and helps identify inadequacies to allow plan modification as necessary. With a centralized ERP system, in the event of a raw ingredient or finished good recall, information is immediately accessible to locate potentially contaminated items and lessen the impact of a contamination event.

With current regulations, food and beverage manufacturers need to ensure that the ERP solution they utilize provides the support necessary to meet HACCP initiatives and ensures that all facets of compliance are addressed throughout the company. As FSMA regulations continue to evolve, the industry will demand ERP provider’s infrastructure stays abreast with supporting functionality. An effective ERP should include functionalities to support food safety protocols and procedures that efficiently minimizes or eliminates the hazards associated with food and beverage manufacturing. The right ERP partner will support manufacturers in providing safe, consistent, quality-driven products that inspire and ensure consumer confidence now and into the future.