The Missing Link

I have always loved food with the passion it deserves. Of course this has at times resulted in an increased waistline. A little over a year ago I decided to do something about it and take back some control. I soon discovered that all the energy I once dedicated to over-eating was now directed at over-analyzing everything I consumed – in detail. One thing became clear; I had always been ignorant of what I was eating, and in such vast unhealthy quantities.

I developed a new, more knowledgeable relationship with food and became aware of some of the risks inherent in the food we consume daily. I inevitably drew a parallel with my job as Product Development Manager – Supply Chain at SYSPRO. Food safety hazards can occur at any stage in the often very long food production chain. ISO 22000:2005 – Food Safety was designed as a quality control measure specifying the requirements for a food safety management system for organizations operating in food chains. It assists them in demonstrating their ability to control food safety hazards and to deliver food that is safe for human consumption. With ISO 22000 comes the HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points), a supportive tool to Food Safety which analyzes potential hazards wherever they may arise, determines the critical control points in a food process, and develops monitoring procedures to determine if the hazards identified are being effectively controlled.

One of the most difficult aspects of all of this is the ability to trace non-conformances back to their prime sources. If a restaurant patron complains to his waiter that the chicken he just ate had a strange taste to it and he subsequently falls gravely ill, it would appear almost impossible to trace the cause of the man’s misfortune. The link between the sick patron and the infected chicken that would have cast light on the nature of the infection and its source  appears to be missing.  The chicken is gone, and even if a trace of it had been left to analyze, the lack of a traceable trail to the origin of the offending bird would make it  difficult to identify from which farm and, more specifically, from which pool or batch of chickens it had originated.  However, if it were indeed possible to trace the chicken right back to the farm and the exact pen, other birds in the same batch can be traced  to wherever they had been delivered  to withdraw any unsold meat, or to take other appropriate preventative action.

The good news is that this missing link has been unearthed. A sound Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system should enable investigators to not only to trace the bird back to its origin, but even identify what it had eaten prior to its slaughtering.  Combined with powerful Lot Traceability and Power Tailoring (Custom Forms, Electronic Signatures) and other useful features, the system should not only provide tight Inventory Control and Traceability, but also address the requirements for ISO 22000 and most HACCP principles with ease. It will offer the essential controls up front to limit the risk of infection in birds, and subsequently trace and monitor the entire food production process meticulously, to lower the risks of hazards far beyond mere human physical observation.

In my quest to reduce my waistline such a system could have warned me of the most offending morsels sooner, and steered my eating habits towards the more healthy delights. Alas, that was then – when the missing link still haunted producers.

SYSPRO has the power and the features required to manage ISO 22000 and HACCP quite comfortably, and reduce the risks of legal suits for food contamination substantially.

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This entry was posted in Business Software, Inventory management, Traceability and tagged , , , by Wouter Combrinck. Bookmark the permalink.

About Wouter Combrinck

Before I joined SYSPRO, I worked for 17 years in production, quality and IT management, where I held senior positions in these disciplines across a diversity of sectors such as construction, FMCG (fast moving consumer goods), manufacturing, assembly and packaging, not to mention a short personal venture into the restaurant business. As a certified quality management systems auditor, I have overseen the implementations of ISO 9000:2000, HACCP and Six Sigma accreditation programs, all of which have served me well in my current role. I have been at SYSPRO for three years and as SYSPRO’s Product Development Manager - Supply Chain, I am responsible for the enhancement and maintenance of the SYSPRO ERP product with a focus on functionality in the supply chain division, which includes distribution and manufacturing. I am passionate about the manufacturing environment and data management, where I strive to facilitate collaborative interaction of software and flow processes, to provide workable solutions for the manufacturing business. I completed my Industrial Engineering qualification at the University of Pretoria. Outside of work I share an environmentally friendly living space (including garden dams stocked with Koi) with my partner of 14 years and our Weimaraner dogs.

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