Collaborative Efforts Pave the Way for FSMA Compliance

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by Frederic Clulow

fresh produce

In the ever-evolving landscape of food safety, the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) stands out as a cornerstone regulation, setting forth stringent requirements for those in the food industry. The act’s complexity and scope necessitate a concerted effort from all stakeholders involved, from growers and packers to distributors.

If you are familiar with any of my other posts on this topic you know how often I’ve highlighted the triple challenges of interoperability, integrability and scalability – or, in the case of growers, replacing manufacturing & distribution system integration with easy data acquisition. The hard truth is that complying with Section 204 is a multi-faceted endeavor that requires a cooperative approach between the industry, technology providers, and operators. 

Interoperability

While FSMA Section 204 is lengthy on what data needs to be collected, it is short on the specifics of how the data must be transacted.Yet a common understanding and data exchange model would set the basis for industry-wide compatibility and interoperability regardless of technology. Different actors across the supply chain would benefit from a unifying syntax to share data irrespective of the systems they use. This would be to the benefit of the industry at large – not to mention the improvements in compliance and consumer safety. This is precisely the work undertaken by GS1 US FSMA 204 workgroup.

Unified Approach to FSMA Compliance

This coalition brings together a diverse array of industry players, including retailers, manufacturers, and solution providers. At the heart of this collaboration is defining implementation guidelines and the leveraging of GS1 standards to ensure seamless communication across the supply chain. I strongly believe that finding this common language, facilitated by GS1 Standards, is crucial for the efficient exchange of information and compliance with FSMA requirements.

But this of course assumes that you are capturing Key Data Elements. And for growers in particular, this can be a specially challenging process: an extremely heterogeneous supply-chain, low levels of operational digitization, and outdated infrastructure all contribute to creating friction for growers to comply with proper KDE collection.

Streamlined Compliance Tools

To aid growers and packers in navigating these complexities, Provision Analytics has developed a customizable tool that not only simplifies compliance but also enhances operational efficiency. This tool excels in capturing and managing critical tracking events and documentation, ensuring that companies remain audit-ready and in line with regulatory demands. It is a mobile-first approach to field-data acquisition purpose-built to simplify the workload on the user. 

Which brings us to the last point: how do you scale your data management to cope with the influx of new data that Section 204 compliance requires? Worse still, how do you ensure that this data is available with minimal latency when you need it most? The typical answer would be to entrust that challenge to your ERP, but it is our belief that ERPs will struggle managing the complexity of increased data, lack the appropriate interoperability and will face challenges in coordinating the multiple KDEs needed across different systems.

Addressing scalability challenges with a fresh perspective

Kezzler’s Connected Products Platform (CPP) is a specialized system designed to address challenges related to large-scale traceability requirements, where multiple data elements across disparate systems need coordination. It excels in data performance, scalability, and interoperability. The objective of any platform used for FSMA 204 compliance should be to maintain record retrieval performance even as data complexity grows. It should serve as a unified source for collating data elements and enabling efficient traceability across diverse entities and production records, making it adept at managing complex data scenarios. All built upon an interoperable foundation. 

A milestone in Food Safety Innovation

We strongly believe that cooperation between vastly different industry members contributes to our common journey towards a safer, more transparent food industry. By combining our varied expertise we are not just facilitating compliance with FSMA 204; we are fostering a culture of collaboration and innovation to empower collective action in overcoming challenges and safeguarding consumer health.

  • Watch our latest joint webinar on “How to scale FSMA 204 Solutions in Fresh Produce Supply Chains”

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