Simplify Compliance Management with Icicle ERP
For food and beverage manufacturers, one hallmark of success is being able to leverage your success from one market to another. Whether you are expanding sales across a border or regulatory jurisdiction or targeting specialty markets like organic, allergen-free, or kosher, the ability to secure high-value compliance certifications with savvy compliance management is essential.
The trouble comes in the details. Even without pursuing new certifications, food businesses can face compliance challenges when regulatory requirements change or expand – like they just did in the United States when the new FSMA Final Traceability Rule came into effect this year. Suddenly, not only do you have to maintain your existing documentation on top of all other aspects of your business, but you now have to learn about new requirements, figure out how to meet them, and manage to implement changes on schedule.
So how can food manufacturers stay on top of regulatory compliance, let alone open up capacity to achieve new certifications for capturing business opportunities? With the right compliance strategy and integrated technology to implement it, managing multiple compliance programs transforms from a challenge to an advantage.
FSMA Traceability Rule Signals Regulatory Compliance Challenges in “The New Era of Food Safety”
Regulatory compliance in the food industry is undergoing a seismic shift as new technologies overtake traditional practices. A major part of that shift came into effect in February 2023 with FSMA 204, a new Traceability Rule that will require elevated standards of traceability for any company manufacturing, processing, packing, or holding foods on the FDA Food Traceability List. Like all regulations in the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), FSMA 204 doesn’t only affect American companies: all businesses that operate in or import to the United States must demonstrate compliance, including suppliers outside of the U.S. who may not even sell directly to any American company.
The new traceability requirements, which indicate a trend in industry standards globally, are intended to usher in the new era of smarter food safety that massively expands supply chain visibility. Companies must be able to track and trace both food and non-food components “one step forward and one step back,” enabling regulatory authorities to respond much faster to foodborne illness outbreaks and other threats to public health.
While this is great news for all of us as consumers of food products, it’s no surprise that many food and beverage manufacturers are wondering if they’ve bit off more than they (and their systems) can chew. The base standard for traceability will now involve the tracking of thousands of Key Data Elements (KDEs) throughout the supply chain. Regulatory innovations like the FDA Traceability Rule have definitively pushed out legacy manual systems. Instead, it is more and more necessary to adopt automated traceability software, including compliance management systems, capable of tracking high volumes of data with the precision needed to protect public health and safety.
How to Leverage Certifications for Market Readiness with Icicle ERP’s Compliance Management System
Despite the emphasis on risk management, a proper compliance management system lets you do more than just prevent errors: it gives you the ability to access new markets, the agility to adapt to existing target market evolutions, and the capacity to innovate your marketing, branding, and product design. Icicle user Terry Goulah, CEO of allergen-free snack manufacturer FreeYumm, explained it like this:
“Once we decided we wanted to expand out-of-provide and into the US market, we realized we needed a robust tracking system and that is just wasn’t going to be possible without software. Some of our newer sales that we’re pursuing depend on the certification [we’ve obtained with Icicle]. Costco is going to come and audit us and they’ll be happy to see our system. It’s certainly giving us that edge to pursue those larger companies that require us to have SQF certification and others.”
Obtaining certifications that are recognized by the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI), such as SQF certification or BRC certification, are surefire ways to ensure that your products come across as trustworthy and safe to your target customers. These GFSI-recognized programs present you with the opportunity to expand market access based on higher safety and quality standards. Third-party certifications are especially relevant for food manufacturers selling to major brands like Costco, Sobeys, Target, Tesco, and Walmart, who increasingly demand that their suppliers demonstrate higher levels of safety and quality controls than required by government regulators.
Third-party accreditations also amplify or create opportunities for marketing and sales via product labels targeted toward consumers, like the Upcycled Certified program that expanded into Canada last year. Icicle ERP integrates your food manufacturing operations with the compliance standards that form the basis of your business. Here are four steps to simplified compliance management with Icicle:
Step 1: Streamline Documentation Compliance to Maximize Certifications
If you already have your hands full with compliance management for regulations required by law, it is a big challenge to duplicate or exponentially increase the regulatory burden to maintain other certifications too. Manufacturers of high-risk products are especially occupied with the sheer volume of documentation and labour required for inspections and audits – even before thousands of KPIs came onto their radar.
Icicle integrates these food safety and traceability requirements into your production, warehouse, and maintenance operations. By leveraging the data you already need to collect for food safety programs based in HACCP principles (or Preventative Control Plans), Icicle’s compliance management system creates a solid base for any food safety, quality, or other certification standard on your horizon. The flexibility of Icicle’s sophisticated data models allow food manufacturers to achieve the highest levels of compliance while also seamlessly replicating proven systems across product lines or facilities without having to do any paperwork or running the risk of human error.
“Icicle is phenomenal at handling that complexity. Once Icicle is set up, it’s so easy to add a new product or do a product extension and implement that into the HACCP program because [Icicle] is already pulling from the generic product that has already been set up.”
– Chris Lerohl, CEO of Honest Dumplings
Icicle users not only simplify documentation labor, but even generate documentation like HACCP Plans based on real-time production data in just one click or tap. In a truly automated, digitized system like Icicle, changes you make in one area are automatically copied everywhere, so that you can handle even significant changes to compliance requirements with ease and confidence. If an ingredient shortage or price fluctuation forces you to change a product formulation quickly, or switch to a new supplier, these changes can rapidly be made in one centralized place.
Step 2: Minimize Labour for Compliance Audits and Assessments
With centralized, digitized documents that are drawing on real-time data from the warehouse and production floor, Icicle dramatically reduces audit prep time and makes inspections and audits smooth and easy (even remote ones). Previously complex tasks like performing mass balance calculations or mock recalls are accomplished in minutes or seconds.
“Automation takes a lot of my workload off my hands. Before Icicle, I’d sit with a binder to verify every document, spend days of my life signing these things that could have been digitally verified. Now it’s one click and done. It made no sense in hindsight to do it that way.”
The level of organization required to prepare for these audits takes months of tedious and painstaking labor, not to mention the collaborative effort of multiple groups of workers across multiple departments. This process is made doubly difficult if data is being managed manually. By implementing an effective, streamlined data management system, however, Icicle makes food safety audits a breeze.
Step 3: Secure Your Whole Supply Chain with Precise Traceability and Supplier Management Tools
FSMA 204 is only one example of how data management requirements are expanding to demand granular tracking and tracing of all inventory and processes, which you have to capture for documentation (and to pass onto customers). Keeping records of your supply chain both “one step forward and one step back” might seem difficult: but really, it constitutes an opportunity to build a chain of strong relationships that you can count on – and that can rely on you, too.
Icicle’s complete traceability features ensure that food manufacturers have both (1) the visibility required by regulatory authorities, and (2) the capability to quickly tackle food safety challenges with extreme precision and accuracy. In the event of a recall, for example, Icicle users can track the location of any product, material, or ingredient with maximum precision so that corrective actions are rapid and targeted, avoiding unnecessary waste.
Now Icicle is the one place that we have everything. When I talk to people with legacy systems – who have partially manually systems for HACCP and processes and traceability through an inventory ERP – I realize how nice it is to have everything in one bundle. We can record incidents in real-time, we can track everything and pull our inventory. Having it all as one complete package has been the most useful.” – Terry Goulah, CEO of FreeYumm
At the same time, traceability doesn’t just include monitoring your own company. You also have to manage your suppliers’ certifications, and if they lapse, or you need to switch suppliers unexpectedly due to supply chain disruptions, the costs in lost productivity can be substantial. Integrated with traceability, Icicle’s automated supplier management interface makes it easy for staff to keep certifications up to date and even keep back-up suppliers on hand for emergencies.
Step 4: Activate Compliance Training (and Food Safety Culture)
Regulatory requirements often involve dozens of procedures, which employees have to remember (especially hard for new employees or when introducing changes to long-standing processes). Icicle ERP’s Training Records Matrix makes it easy for managers to track who has been trained on which procedures, and schedule training or retraining. Tasks assigned during training or as part of everyday operations with Icicle’s task management tools reinforce workflows and build food safety culture, even with staff turnover.
“I think another really exciting function that we really like is the training records and how those tie into the SOPs. You can look at a specific person, see everything they’re trained on, or you can go to the SOP and then see who’s trained on it. And I think having all of that at your fingertips is really powerful to be able to help ensure that the team is developed and growing and getting their ability, they’re developing in their capability in the kitchen and what they’re trained to do.” – Chris from Honest Dumplings
Automating documentation maintenance ultimately does more than help you keep your head above water: Icicle frees up capacity and improves communication by centralizing data in a unified compliance management system that is accessible to authorized users from any secure, internet-enabled device.
“It’s definitely freed up a lot of time for us to focus on new projects and expand food safety. Icicle just makes our whole program stronger and stronger. We’re not messing around trying to find a paper document anymore; everything is right there in the system.” – Dave Maguire, HACCP Coordinator at Hayter’s Farm
Icicle ERP is Your Key Compliance Strategy for Unlocking New Markets
Streamlined compliance management is essential for growing food and beverage manufacturing businesses and expanding sales to new markets. Icicle ERP is the food safety backbone of manufacturers around the world, helping companies scale up with the technology and data insights they need to succeed.
That’s why government funding programs are supporting technological adoption and upgrading to foster competitiveness in the food industry. From the new federal Sustainable Canadian Agricultural Partnership program to the BC Food Processing Fund, 2023 is a crucial year for food businesses to invest in new futures. Get in touch with our team to find out how to stack grant opportunities and fund your next innovation with Icicle ERP.