"Every year tens of millions of people are affected by tainted food supplies containing bacteria such as E. coli and salmonella," said Venkat Rajaji, global PLM product manager for Infor. "In addition, the Pew Charitable Trust reports that foodborne illnesses cost the US $152 billion annually. These significant issues have caused the FDA to take a closer look at the processes behind food manufacturing."
In an effort to mitigate the issues, the House recently passed The Food Safety Modernisation Act. This bill aims to make food safer by giving the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) increased power to inspect food processing facilities and force companies to recall tainted food. And while it has been met with its fair share of controversy, most agree that additional processes need to be put in place to ensure the quality of food manufacturing.
Technology solutions can aid in this effort by helping companies "better manage their internal processes and, where possible, implement solutions to prevent future outbreaks," added Rajaji. "Savvy companies throughout the United States have already implemented technology solutions that provide better visibility into their operating processes and address manufacturing problems before they happen." However, with this new regulation in place, more companies will likely invest in technology solutions to complement their processes to ensure quality and prevent the lofty expense of food recalls. A recent study by Aberdeen Group conducted with 160 manufacturing executives noted that the leading strategy for manufacturing companies is to improve control of quality processes across operations and the supply chain.
Venkat Rajaji has been at the forefront of the food manufacturing industry for years, having held positions in Accenture's and IBM's consulting divisions focused on supply chain management. In his current role as the head of the Product Lifecycle Management group at Infor, Rajaji helps companies maximize profits, reduce time to market and ensure better safety and regulatory compliance by harnessing the full visibility and control offered by Infor PLM solutions.
While the proposed bill is a significant step toward better food safety, it will not come without challenges and companies will need to make sure they have the right tools in place to implement the changes. "Food processors should review current production processes and be prepared to invest in internal policies, procedures and technology solutions to prepare for the change and minimize disruption," reiterated Rajaji.