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Food Processing Software: Improving Salmonella Analysis Tracking and Reporting

Monday, December 21st, 2009 by Alex Smith

In 2009, the food and beverage industry saw peanuts, pistachios, and prepackaged refrigerated cookie dough recalled and pulled off the shelves at retail stores and warehouses across the country for one reason: salmonella contamination. Many food and beverage businesses were then forced to shut down their operations for good, as their food processing software solution did not give them the ability to record and track raw ingredient lot numbers from suppliers, when those lot numbers were consumed in manufacturing, finished good lot numbers, and the finished good lot numbers that were ultimately shipped to end customers. As a result, businesses were forced to recall EVERYTHING that could have potentially been produced with a contaminated ingredient, a bad situation if you make packaged nuts and trail mixes.

To gain improved salmonella analysis tracking and reporting, food processors and distributors can leverage Enterprise 21’s food ERP software and integrated lot traceability functionality in a number of ways. First, raw ingredients purchased from suppliers can be flagged to be placed on quality hold each time the ingredient arrives into inventory. When the ingredient arrives into inventory, the receiving department would record, either manually or with RF and barcode devices, the ingredient that was received, the quantity that was received, and the lot number(s) for the ingredient received. The ingredient would then be placed in a holding area awaiting quality inspection. It is important to note that the ingredient received would not yet be released into available inventory to be consumed in manufacturing. Following the receipt of the ingredient, a person in the quality control/assurance department would be automatically notified that the ingredient was awaiting his or her inspection. As quality control personnel inspected the product, they could enter inspection values directly into Enterprise 21. Assuming the product is determined to be acceptable, it would then be approved and released into available inventory. If the product does not meet inspection criteria, the product can be rejected, and the quality department can specify a reason code for why the product was rejected.

Secondly, manufactured items can automatically be placed on quality hold each time a given item is produced. Again, as items are produced, they can be placed in a holding area awaiting quality inspection and testing for salmonella. Enterprise 21 would automatically notify the quality control department that a given item has been produced and is awaiting inspection. Quality control personnel can then test the manufactured product, enter inspection data into Enterprise 21, and then approve or disapprove the product to be released into available inventory for customer purchases. Inspection data can also be used to generate a Certificate of Analysis (COA), and this COA can be set to accompany the finished good each time the product is shipped to a customer.

Aside from improving the organization’s quality control inspection process and attaining improved visibility to quality inspection data, food and beverage companies’ customers will be much more comfortable doing business with an organization that can clearly demonstrate that any product shipped to them has been rigorously tested for salmonella contamination prior to shipment. This improvement in customer service ensures that the food manufacturer or distributor is adequately prepared for a product recall should one arise and increases the likelihood of repeat customer purchases given the sophisticated quality control and reporting mechanisms the organization has in place.