Viewing food safety through the lens of risk management is the prevailing practice today. However, if the focus changed, companies would find that food safety can move beyond risk mitigation to become a source of growth and economic progress.
Successful partnerships between Ecolab and customers across the food supply chain have spawned a strategic and philosophical outlook and the belief that it’s time for a fresh perspective. Ecolab is now demonstrating this every day through products and programs designed to enhance food safety and increase profitability for their partners by enabling them to seize new opportunities for growth.
Recent shifts in consumer preferences, ingredient supply chains and government regulations are putting new pressure on the brewing industry.
Traditionally, brewing has been focused on cleanliness and employing operational practices focused on quality. Relying primarily on malt, yeast, hops and water as ingredients and the inherent hurdles to biological growth in the brewing process left little that could go wrong. This has been changing in reaction to evolving consumer tastes and the need to differentiate through new beer styles. Today, brewers employ all sorts of flavorings including spices, fruits, nuts, starches, and shellfish to create new beers. The intrinsic properties of beer responsible for many of the antimicrobial characteristics such as alcohol, CO2, pH, IBUs are pushed to their limits.
In the U.S., breweries have been regulated by the Department of the Treasury’s Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) and not by the FDA. This has influenced the mindset that beer is not food and thus should not be subject to the types of food safety regulations imposed on food. This mindset has been shaken to the core with the inclusion of alcoholic beverages as products covered under the FDA’s Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), the latest amendment to the Food Drug and Cosmetic Act. Designed and aimed at prevention of contamination rather than response to it, the law addresses the materials and rules most breweries and other food producers function under today.
Through FSMA, manufacturers of alcoholic beverages must comply with current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMP). A basic outline of cGMP includes:
To meet FSMA requirements and address the Master Brewers Association of Americas (MBAA) and industry recommended food safety practices, brewers are challenged to employ a systematic approach to controlling significant food safety hazards from raw materials acquisition through to consumption of their product. This starts with the implementation of cGMP as part of FSMA compliance and going beyond simply compliance by implementing a risk-based approach to food safety.
MBAA has partnered with Ecolab to develop brewery-specific food safety training to help brewers apply the methodology outlined in Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP). The challenges facing the brewing industry underscore the mounting need on the part of all food and beverage manufacturers for connected technologies. An IoT-empowered food safety system facilitates informed action – increasing agility, flexibility and speed through:
Partnering with food safety experts who can deliver innovative technology and provide guidance from consulting through implementation opens new opportunities for new product offerings, efficient production and increased food safety protections for the business and for consumers.
For more information go to MBAA Publications “Why should the Malting and Brewing Industry Be Concerned About Food Safety?”
See Ecolab and our brewing industry partners in action by participating in the Food Safety Discovery Tours. Learn more about our vision of food safety as a growth-driver at the GFSI Global Food Safety Conference, and contribute your insights at booth #310. Or visit at Ecolab.com/FoodSafety.
This post was written and contributed by:
Tatiana Lorca, PhD
Senior Manager, Food Safety Education & Training, Food & Beverage.