Resources and time are barriers for operations - SafetyChain and TAG

By Joseph James Whitworth contact

- Last updated on GMT

Picture: iStock/tuan_azizi
Picture: iStock/tuan_azizi
Resources and time are barriers for many operations, according to a survey by SafetyChain Software and The Acheson Group (TAG).

The survey assessed top challenges faced by food safety and quality teams and tactics to overcome them.

Resources and time were the most significant challenges with 80% of respondents indicating that both were either big barriers or somewhat of a barrier.

SafetyChain and TAG said this could impact companies’ capabilities to ensure food safety and quality and a large percentage of firms need to improve visibility into operations.

Internal and supplier performance were also areas of concern.

However, 50% said that regulatory compliance and understanding best practices and requirements were not a barrier to getting a good night’s sleep.

Food safety plans and training

The 400 survey respondents primarily came from large companies in the US and Canada involved in the production, manufacture and movement of human food.

One in ten didn’t know if their company falls under FSMA - indicating that firms are still struggling with understanding which rules apply to them.

The survey found 25% haven’t done a gap assessment which helps a company determine where they need to be.

A total of 70% of respondents are either Preventive Controls Qualified Individual (PCQI) trained or on their way to completion of such training and a slightly larger percentage are either in the process of completing a food safety plan or have completed one.

The majority had, or where in the process of, updating their record keeping system and had written a food safety plan. However, almost a third had not had a third party review their food safety plan.

Half indicated that all their team knows their role’s importance for food safety but 40% feel that is only a ‘somewhat accurate’ statement for their company’s food safety culture.

The vast majority are confident or somewhat confident in training. However, with about 50% indicating that company executives are actively involved, results indicate there is room for improvement in C-level engagement. 

GFSI and supplier monitoring

A total of 73% are GFSI certified or in the process of becoming so.

About half either found it challenging or somewhat challenging to keep their GFSI programs updated to current code requirements and demonstrate continuous improvement.

Companies recognize the importance of staying current with GFSI programs due to customer demand and with FSMA requirements for regulatory purposes.

Respondents cited visibility into non-conformances and ongoing monitoring of suppliers and ability to track and rank them as challenges.

Only one third felt they were doing satisfactorily and two thirds were not as confident about this, which is not surprising given the larger amount of records, documents and processes that have to be maintained to ensure supplier compliance.

Just below half said their supply chain control program is risk-based and less than four in 10 described work with new suppliers as a ‘successful, controlled’ process.

A very high percentage said they are prepared for a scheduled audit but find it challenging to be prepared for an unannounced one.

Role of technology

Less than half feel confident about their programs being current and records being audit ready.

Record management and documentation are particularly challenging aspects of audit preparedness for the industry.

TAG and SafetyChain said technology should be considered to manage these factors including efficiencies in accessing records and proving plans are being executed.

60% felt they were as prepared for a regulatory audit as a customer, internal or non-regulatory audit, with about a third considering themselves somewhat prepared and just a few unprepared.

12% of survey participants responded that they’re not routinely tracking operational performance and almost 40% aren’t satisfied with how well they are tracking it.

Almost half said it was somewhat accurate to say they had good visibility upstream, downstream and internally and the majority have a viable risk management strategy.

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