The desire and need to reduce risks at more points in the food and beverage production process, along with new regulations on the use of preventive controls, has led to a renewed focus on supplier management. Beyond verbal assurances, manufacturers increasingly seek information and verification from suppliers about goods sent to their facility, a shift that ultimately sets the bar higher for food safety. Suppliers who use x-ray inspection systems can use the accompanying data as proof to their manufacturer partners. While manufacturers, whose suppliers do not use x-ray on outgoing goods, can deploy x-ray technology to scan incoming goods as a way of keeping them in check.
The farm-to-fork chain is more interlinked than ever, with a greater number of safety measures and checks in place to keep food safe. A more comprehensive, holistic approach to food safety includes the enhanced assessment and management of risks in the earliest stages of food and beverage production.
Today’s food and beverage companies are more conscious of supply chain metrics, overseeing and managing their suppliers to not only check if incoming goods were received but to assess the quality of those goods and how they affect their products. Through better supplier management manufacturers are working to minimize risks and optimize quality essentially at every turn.
Part of this expanded emphasis on supplier management stems from a wide-ranging culture of food safety and manufacturers’ goals of running a tight operation while staying out of the news with recalls or incidents. Another driver of enhanced supplier management is legislation like the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), which regulates preventive controls for human food, including supply chain preventive controls.
In addition to staying compliant with regulations, better supplier management and verification programs offer several benefits. Manufacturers who work with suppliers that do their own x-ray inspection can ensure that they are receiving goods that have been scanned for contaminants prior to arriving at their facility, something that is verifiable through data and images generated by the advanced imaging and control software in the x-ray system. This prevents problems later on in the process, whether it’s damaged equipment from rocks or stone or downtime due to a detected contaminant or an incorrect product. Many manufacturers, in fact, increasingly require such demonstrable risk mitigation from their suppliers, especially as regulations and verification requirements become more stringent.
On a broader level, relationships with suppliers are strengthened when products are tested and verified as hazard-free at the point of receipt. Suppliers who want to continue working with manufacturers can be encouraged to take a proactive approach to safety and quality, whether that means using x-ray systems to inspect their goods before they are shipped to manufacturers and processors, or taking other preventive steps to reduce risks.
Meanwhile, manufacturers can elevate safety and quality expectations for suppliers that do not currently inspect their products with x-ray systems. By performing x-ray inspection on incoming goods, manufacturers can determine if there are repeat issues with contaminants or irregular products among certain suppliers, and set high expectations among all suppliers for items received for further processing in their facilities.
Early inspections and interventions set the right tone for a stronger culture of safety and quality. They say a rising tide lifts all boats, and that’s truer than ever in the food and beverage supply chain, as companies navigate a course toward safe, satisfying products and profitable business.