Keeping up with challenges to food safety

by Sean Riley, PMMI
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FSMA is affecting bakeries in a myriad of ways.
 

Consumers always purchase packaged snacks and baked goods with the expectation that the products they select will be safe. With the supply chain growing more and more every day, however, brand manufacturers continue to source from an ever-growing list of ingredients and suppliers, whether it be fresher items or lower cost. Slowly but surely, counterfeit elements have made their way into the supply chain to the degree that food now represents the fourth most valuable counterfeit market according to the Brand Protection and Product Traceability Market Research Report from PMMI, the Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies.

Bogus food has created such an increase in inspection, detection and track and trace solutions that the global anti-counterfeiting market is expected to witness significant growth in the next five years with CAGRs ranging from 12.8% to 16.1%. In fact, the increase of the global anti-counterfeiting market will outpace the overall market segment growth of food, beverage and pharmaceutical industries by roughly two to three times in the next five years.

The entire supply chain requires checks-and-balances to close the gaps when inspecting, tracking and authenticating products. In most instances, these solutions will go far beyond the idea of a simple fix, creating a layered suite of solutions.

Within the layered approach to ensuring properly sourced foods are overt — bar codes, holograms, watermarks, embossing and etching — and covert technologies — taggants, UV, infrared and fluorescent inks, Smart technology and radio frequency identification (RFID).

Another factor that will ensure protection in the U.S. food supply chain is the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). While large food companies and OEMs are well on their way towards compliance with FSMA, many food companies are still struggling to understand all aspects of the new law.

According to the latest FSMA Update Report by PMMI food companies are expected to have the most difficulty with compliance. With only limited regulatory oversight before FSMA, these businesses have been making more investments in new equipment to help meet compliance. Additionally, small food companies and farms are challenged with overhead costs while those that source ingredients from foreign-based suppliers must now ensure that their suppliers comply with the law’s food supplier program.

Despite difficulties, most companies are not investing in new equipment or equipment upgrades because of FSMA. They are primarily making procedural changes, such as how the manufacturing environment is organized, operated, cleaned and maintained; what people are trained on; and how activities are documented. Changes to cleaning processes and operations can often make up for machines’ less-than-ideal food safety designs.

No event in North America will offer more inspection, detection and traceability solutions then Pack Expo Las Vegas and the co-located Healthcare Packaging Expo (Sept. 25–27, Las Vegas Convention Center). Owned and produced by PMMI, the show will feature baking and snack food safety solutions among its more than 2000 exhibitors covering 900,000 net square feet of exhibit space.

In addition to providing access to a wide range of technologies, Pack Expo Las Vegas will offer a robust schedule of educational sessions covering food safety strategies, regulatory issues and consumer trends.

For example, on the Innovation Stage Bob Ries from Thermo Fisher Scientific will present “How Multiscan Technology Will Revolutionize Metal Detection and Food Safety” and SNAC International vice-president David Walsh and president and chief executive officer Elizabeth Avery will discuss “U.S. Snack Industry: Emerging Snacking Trends and Regulatory Issues Shaping the Market.” Like all Innovation Stage sessions, these 30-minute education programs are free of charge.

Registration, which includes access to both Pack Expo Las Vegas and Healthcare Packaging Expo, is $30 until Sept. 1, when the price increases to $100. For more information and to register on-line, visit www.packexpolasvegas.com.
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