Keep Your “Key Data Elements” Fresh with Automated FSMA Traceability Software
On January 20, 2023, section 204 of the US FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) came into effect, beginning the three year countdown until hundreds of food-related businesses must be able to demonstrate compliance with the data-heavy regulation on key data elements. The new requirements, targeted towards enhancing traceability in the food supply chain, also demonstrate to the industry that in the modern era of “smarter food safety,” manual systems operating off of stale, outdated data can no longer hope to keep up.
Though food manufacturers, processors, packers, and holders looking to meet FSMA 204 timelines have a big data management challenge ahead of them, compliance with the new FSMA rules also offers crucial opportunities to gain a strategic edge in a competitive market. The key is real-time data – which you can use to achieve compliance and also simplify your operations in one fell swoop. But how do you turbocharge data management and reap the rewards in time and on budget?
What FSMA 204 Means for Manufacturers on the FDA Food Traceability List
FSMA 204, as a key component of FDA’s New Era of Smarter Food Safety Blueprint, is targeted toward enhancing supply chain visibility and improving response rates to recalls and other food safety issues. The new approach amplifies the data requirements for the vast majority of the food and beverage sector, bringing the regulatory baseline up to industry best practices. Manufacturers, processors, packers, and holders of food on the Food Traceability List will now be required to maintain records of Key Data Elements (KDEs) associated with five Critical Tracking Events (CTEs): growing, receiving, transforming, creating, and shipping.
Each CTE has a list of KDEs that need to be captured and linked to a traceability code for a given item. For example, when an item is received at a facility, you need to record data that includes:
- Traceability lot code for the food
- Quantity and unit of measure of the food
- Product description for the food
- Location description for the immediate previous source (other than a transporter) for the food
- Location description for where the food was received
- Date you received the food
- Location description for the traceability lot code source or the traceability lot code source reference
- Reference document type and reference document number
Most food manufacturing facilities include four out of the five CTEs, meaning that there is an extensive list of KDEs that food manufacturers need to capture and manage across their facility. Businesses operating with manual or even partially-manual processes will soon be overwhelmed by the responsibility to maintain this level of traceability documentation – which the US FDA will be able to request with only 24 hours notice.
Icicle’s automated food safety and traceability software lifts the weight off of your shoulders by streamlining the process of capturing and managing Key Data Elements throughout your facility. With automated traceability software, you not only gain FSMA 204 compliance, but elevate your food safety practices to the highest industry standards and open doors to new customer relationships.
Streamline Key Data Element Management at the Receiving Stage for Seamless Data Transfer
The receiving stage is a KDE crucial pass off point where data must be transferred and accurately organized so that information is seamlessly communicated to the next CTEs in your facility.
Start off on the right foot by keeping staff on track with automatic prompts and task management to ensure that no information is missed in the transfer. This includes receiving instructions that allow suppliers to add image and text instructions so that warehouse staff can easily locate where to find the KDEs, such as the lot code, associated with each item.
Logistics workflows can be optimized further with Icicle ERP via barcodes that are compliant with the global GS1 standard. Think of it like setting up a universal – and affordable – traceability language that is translatable across traceability systems for manufacturing. Manufacturing data contained in GS1-compliant barcodes can be seamlessly uploaded into Icicle with smart scanners, enabling fast and accurate data transfers that deliver FSMA traceability compliance while also enhancing your logistics operations.
Indeed, Icicle’s powerful automation capabilities can leverage traceability data for a range of purposes beyond regulatory compliance. GS1-compliant barcodes make it easy for Icicle to calculate best-before dates at receiving too – and then use that information to maximize shelf life and reduce waste by prioritizing raw material usage in FIFO (first-in-first-out) order.
Capture Key Data Elements During Production, No Matter How Complex
As items enter the production line, your responsibility to transmit Key Data Elements is expanded to capture new data as well. If you manufacture a food on the Food Traceability List (or use any as ingredients), you not only have to capture new manufacturing data on high-risk items, but also data on any ingredients that are not on the Food Traceability List.
With Icicle, multiple iterations of consumed ingredients are linked by lot code to provide a full rundown of all items used in production. Even for non-linear or multistage production lines, Icicle adapts to your unique operations, providing bulletproof traceability at the lot code level.
Do you manufacture a food product that has variable ingredients or quantities? Icicle can track variances during production and ensure compliance with both traceability and quality standards. In the case of one-off production runs such as special orders, users can input information into the freeform transform feature to link traceability information to items created outside of the usual structured production run.
With these advanced systems in place, Icicle leverages the data captured during production to provide valuable analytics for business optimization. Actual production run costing takes into consideration the costs of ingredients, materials, packaging, as well as capturing overhead such as labour, rent, and utilities so that sales processes can be optimized by providing real-time profitability data.
Ship Your Products with Rich Traceability Data to Delight Your Customers
Once production is complete, products need to be prepared for shipment and KDEs need to be transformed into an accessible format to be communicated down the supply chain. Icicle continues to capture Key Data Elements after production by integrating traceability systems with warehouse management. Real-time inventory transactions give full visibility on the inventory levels in transit or at each facility and ensure rapid response in the event of recalls.
When shipping items externally to customers, KDEs need to be communicated. Different products (or customers) may require different KDEs, but Icicle allows you to generate individual packing slips for different shipments coming from the same batch so that each unique customer only receives the information they need. Shipping documents can be automatically emailed to customers whenever a shipment is verified so that customers have all necessary information at hand before the shipment arrives.
Good communication practices improve customer satisfaction, but they also improve efficiency within your business. Icicle ERP’s new shipping notices feature allows your staff to coordinate warehouse activities with shipping updates and estimated arrival times. Especially given the recent trend of supply chain disruptions, introducing automated traceability systems also means bringing more data that you can use to schedule production and warehouse activities and make sure your customers get their orders on time.
New FSMA Rules are the Keys to Success in the “Era of Smarter Food Safety”
Here at the end, let’s step back for a minute and consider the big picture. FSMA 204 compliance means that you need to be able to produce all KDE data within 24 hours of a request from the FDA, even if you’re a foreign supplier shipping into the US. With manual systems, most food manufacturers are operating with day-old data at the best of times.
Automated traceability software means that you have access to real time data for all CTEs, 24/7. You and your staff can access your Icicle ERP account from any secure, internet-enabled device and fulfil any data request, with minimal or no preparation required. You can even grant permissions for remote inspections and audits to show the highest levels of compliance and foster trust with your customers.
The implementation of FSMA 204 doesn’t have to be an intimidating turn of events for food manufacturers. Icicle’s traceability software lets you look at FSMA compliance as an opportunity to improve traceability practices and land bigger customers to expand your business.
Download FSMA compliance checklist of Key Data Elements >
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