Food and Beverage Industry Compliance Plan
Regulatory compliance is important in all industries, but in the food and beverage industry, regulatory compliance can be the difference between life and death to consumers and processing plant workers alike. In the food and beverage industry, there are local, national and, in some cases, regional regulations that all center around safety and quality standards that legally require compliance.
We’ve put together a general plan that will help you navigate the oftentimes complex waters of regulatory compliance in the food and beverage industry.
International Food and Beverage Regulations and FDA Food Guidance Compliance
The first place to start in compliance is to understand all the different regulations that you must comply with. This can include, but is not limited to, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 22000 and the the FDA’s Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), among others.
Certain regulations, like FSMA, require implementation of systems that provide different tools for analysis of any potential hazards or control factors. The system required to comply with FSMA, for instance, is the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) management system. Implementing HACCP in your facility covers a variety of hazards, including physical, chemical and biological, and it’s broken down into several sections:
Policies and Procedures that Establish Regulatory Compliance
Once there is a thorough understanding of all the industry regulations requiring some form of compliance, company leadership should implement policies and procedures for adherence to the different regulations.
While we typically think of regulations for the food and beverage industry to center solely around the food and beverages themselves, it’s important to know that many regulations are specific to the production facility. These regulations might include proper installation and upkeep for freezer and cold storage doors, loading dock seals and shelters, controlling your facility's temperature and facility pest control.
With a solid procedural system in place, any troubleshooting or questions that may arise can be addressed in a knowledgeable and appropriate fashion.
Employee Training in Food and Beverage Safety Standards
Employee training may be the most important aspect of your plan for food and beverage industry regulatory compliance. Afterall, having policies and procedures won’t do any good if your workers aren’t aware of what the different regulations are or what they need to do to comply to these regulations.
During training, employees should be informed of all regulations their facility needs to comply with, and it’d be additionally beneficial to include walk-throughs to demonstrate best practices and common issues workers may face. Third-party certifications are also available to prove that your food and beverage safety plan can diligently meet standards.
Documented food safety protocols and certifications are increasing in popularity for any company doing business throughout the food supply chain. From growing the food, processing it, packaging it, shipping and distributing it, selling it -- every level of food and beverage logistics is now expected to adhere to food and beverage standards designed to ensure products are safe for consumption.
In addition to training, procedural and regulation documentation should be readily available to all facility workers.
Monitoring Regulatory Compliance and Easy Access to Data
Once you understand all regulations, implement policies and train employees on how to comply, it is highly advised to monitor all activity that would fall under the different regulations. This should include both standard, daily compliance as well as any incidents that have occurred.
Documentation was historically accomplished with pen and paper, but there are now a variety of software programs available from companies like Southeast Computer Solutions, SWK Technologies and Navex Global, among others, to create a more efficient and effective documentation process that will be particularly helpful in the case of an audit of your facilities operational practices.
While regulations and compliance standards are constantly changing, keeping up to date with your industry regulations and implementing a compliance plan is a necessary component of your facility operations to ensure your company is in compliance that will ultimately create a hazard-free work environment for employees and safe products for consumer consumption.
Additional Resources on Food and Beverage Industry Best Practices and Common Issues: