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Pharmaceutical Warehouse Management: Key Challenges and Solutions

The Drug Quality and Security Act (DQSA) and the Drug Supply Chain Security Act (DSCSA) forever changed pharmaceutical warehouse management. Today, logistics professionals in the pharmaceutical industry face a host of new challenges, including stringent regulatory frameworks, shifting consumer expectations, and increasing pressure from downstream trading partners and healthcare providers.

The question is, how can you adapt your pharmaceutical warehouse inventory strategy to align with these new challenges and thrive in the global prescription drug ecosystem? This blog explores the hurdles you’ll face and provides practical solutions for overcoming them by using refined strategies, employing enhanced technologies, and taking a proactive approach to innovation.

Introduction to Pharmaceutical Warehouse Management

Overseeing the daily running of a facility that stores prescription medications might as well be called “chaos management.” After all, keeping up with pharmaceutical compliance rules, meeting the ever-changing needs of your trading partners, and maintaining a real-time account of inventory is nothing if not chaotic.

As a member of this vital supply chain, you have to navigate all of the typical order processing and inventory tracking challenges of other storage facilities while simultaneously mitigating the liabilities associated with handling prescription drugs and biologics.

The good news is that there are solutions that can make your life simpler and help you stay ahead of Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations. The key is to identify what you are up against and mobilize your entire team toward tackling those challenges.

Key Challenges in Pharmaceutical Warehouse Management

Three of the major difficulties you’ll face on your journey toward better efficiency and improved resilience are as follows:

Storage Constraints

If you want to maintain product integrity, you’ve got to invest in high-quality, climate-controlled pharmaceutical warehousing. Optimizing your inventory control processes and engaging in safe material handling is critical to preventing product waste and ensuring patient safety.

However, due to the high costs of storing medications, it’s important to stay lean and avoid carrying too much inventory. This is where things become challenging, as carrying too little stock leads to stockouts and supply shortfalls. If you overorder, you’ll encounter spoilage issues, waste, and excess expenses.

Regulatory Compliance

The DSCSA imposed stringent regulatory requirements on members of the pharmaceutical supply chain, including warehouses and distributors. In response, you must adapt your workflows to ensure ongoing compliance. Otherwise, you’ll face severe penalties and may even be restricted from participating in the U.S. pharmaceutical supply ecosystem.

As part of this process, you must implement security measures geared toward promoting transparency and guarding against fraud. Furthermore, you have to meet all labeling and packaging requirements as laid out in the DSCSA. These labels should include expiry dates, the names of the pharmaceutical companies that made the drugs, and other key information.

Inventory Accuracy

Maintaining real-time visibility of your stock plays a pivotal role in order fulfillment and the meeting of regulatory standards. At any given moment, you should know which medications you have in stock, where they are stored, and the quantity of each item. Due to the fast-paced nature of this industry, it’s nearly impossible to achieve this level of visibility using manual processes.

You can remedy your inventory woes with a pharmaceutical warehouse management system. The best solutions offer up-to-the-minute insights into stock levels, allowing you to avoid shortages while meeting your clients’ needs.

Regulatory Compliance and Good Distribution Practices (GDP)

Good distribution practices (GDP) are established minimum standards that your organization should follow to ensure medication integrity and quality. Make sure to familiarize yourself with both domestic and international GDPs, including those published by the FDA and the European Medicines Agency.

Additionally, you need to adopt the rules laid out in federal acts like the DSCSA. These regulations apply to key members of the prescription drug sector, including manufacturers, distributors, and suppliers. You cannot treat these regulations as an afterthought. Instead, you must integrate them into the company culture and your standard operational procedures.

It’s also important to train your staff on the legal requirements that apply to your company. Equip them with the tools and resources they need to meet these regulations, such as barcode scanners, user-friendly software, and efficient workflows.

Inventory Management Systems and Technologies

Adopting automated tech tools can drastically reduce the likelihood of costly human errors in your supply chain. Start by assessing the quality of your current software. Is it cloud-based and nimble, or are you due for an upgrade?

Don’t stop there, though. Shift your attention to frontline tools like RFID or barcode scanners and automated picking systems. Streamlining these key parts of your workflows will make the organization more flexible and resilient to shifting regulatory frameworks.

Temperature-Controlled Storage and Cold Chain Management

Not all drugs can be tossed on a shelf. Temperature-sensitive pharmaceuticals are often particularly challenging to manage and store. You must keep these goods within established temperature thresholds during every link in the delivery process, including storage and transportation.

As part of these efforts, ensure you partner with reputable carriers that understand the stringent temperature constraints associated with transporting such medications. Even a temporary change in storage conditions can cause raw materials in certain substances to spoil.

Also, implement strict quality control protocols that include ongoing monitoring and alerts. The sooner you identify issues with temperature management equipment, the better your odds of resolving them before it leads to a greater problem.

Risk Management and Security

Product tampering and theft represent the two most prominent threats facing your pharmaceutical warehouse. By implementing robust monitoring and access control protocols, you can track every person who enters your facility and ensure that they are authorized to be there.

You can begin to do so by implementing multiple layers of security and monitoring, including keycard-based door controls and camera systems. It’s also a good idea to enact physical measures such as:

  • Fencing around your facility
  • Multiple layers of access control
  • On-site security personnel

Cumulatively, these deterrents will drastically reduce the likelihood of theft or tampering while also protecting your reputation.

Optimization Strategies and Best Practices

Pharmaceutical warehouse management is an expensive endeavor, but taking certain steps can reduce your expenses and make the organization leaner. First, make sure to optimize your warehouse’s layout. Organize your shelving and storage systems in a way that promotes easy access to products, and take advantage of vertical space.

Where practical, adopt lean principles like just-in-time ordering. Use analytics tools and inventory management software to monitor consumption trends and set optimal reorder points. These tactics will reduce overordering while preventing stockouts and decreasing your storage costs.

While you need to retain a healthy inventory of vital medications, it’s important to stay nimble and leave yourself room to adapt to shifts in consumption habits.

Quality Assurance and Traceability

Under Title II of the DQSA, members of the pharmaceutical supply chain must work toward interoperability and facilitate the electronic tracing of prescriptions. These provisions are designed to promote visibility, quality assurance, and end-to-end traceability.

As a member of the pharmaceutical supply chain, your organization must adhere to these regulations. Specifically, you must comply with labeling requirements, engage in batch tracking, and relay this data to downstream members of your trading network.

In the event of a safety concern, you are also required to provide batch tracking data to the FDA so that it can oversee recalls. Failing to adhere to these requirements can compromise public health. Additionally, the FDA can impose sanctions and monetary penalties.

Collaboration With Supply Chain Partners

Your business doesn’t operate alone. It relies on an interconnected ecosystem of trade partners, all of which are interdependent on one another. While all warehouse management optimization initiatives must begin and end internally, you cannot realize your long-term goals without the support of your industry partners.

Explore opportunities to refine relationships with distributors, manufacturers, and logistics providers. Where possible, integrate your technologies with theirs to accelerate the flow of information and enhance overall visibility.

Remember, this should be a two-way process. Ask the organizations that are immediately upstream and downstream from you how your business can better support their goals. Cumulatively, your companies can achieve unprecedented levels of efficiency and flexibility.

Future Trends and Innovations

Pharma global compliance represents the next great leap in drug supply chain management. Nations are already collaborating to create safer prescription medication supply chains. Ultimately, this will lead to the creation of international standards, which will certainly be more stringent than current frameworks.

On the technological side, artificial intelligence and warehouse automation represent two of the most exciting developments. These solutions will expand your bandwidth and help you continuously meet productivity goals while adapting to changing regulatory frameworks.

Blockchain technology is another promising tool for promoting traceability and transparency. With the help of blockchain, your company can create immutable records of batch origins and ensure compliance with FDA requirements.

Connect With rfxcel

Are you ready to revolutionize the way you approach pharmaceutical warehouse management? If so, rfxcel can help. Our pharma supply chain visibility software provides real-time insights into your stock levels, automates redundant administrative processes, and empowers your team to get more done. If you’d like to learn more about rfxcel and our adaptable software, schedule a demo today.

Indonesia Track and Trace Regulations: What They Mean for the Pharma Industry

Indonesia track and trace regulations are designed to prevent counterfeit, stolen, contaminated, or otherwise harmful drugs from entering the supply chain. The goal is to protect consumers and increase patient safety, as well as boost Indonesia’s competitiveness in the pharma global pharma industry.

The National Agency of Drug and Food Control (BPOM) began rolling out regulations in 2018. In 2022, it established provisions and procedures for implementing 2D DataMatrix codes for drug and food products. The country’s digital platform is called the Track and Trace Anti-Counterfeit (TTAC) system.

Key regulations went into effect in 2023; the next big deadlines are set for 2025 and 2027. So let’s take a closer look at Indonesia track and trace regulations and what they mean for the pharma industry.

Indonesia’s Pharma Market in Context

At the time of writing, Indonesia’s population is approaching 279 million — the fourth largest in the world. It’s no surprise, then, that the sprawling archipelago is the largest pharmaceutical market in Southeast Asia.

According to Business Indonesia, sales of medicines in 2020 were valued at about $7.6 billion (110.6 trillion rupiah); this is expected to increase to more than $11 billion (176 trillion rupiah) by 2025. In terms of U.S. dollars, this equates to a compound annual growth rate of 10.7 percent.

Furthermore, the Indonesian government is making significant investments in the country’s healthcare system. The same Business Indonesia article reported that healthcare spending in 2022 accounted for 9.4 percent of the total government budget.

In this context, Indonesia is seeking to expand and open its pharmaceutical sector to foreign participation and investment. Pharma companies that already have an in-country presence or that want to enter the market must fully understand — and comply with — Indonesia track and trace regulations.

The Framework of Indonesia Track and Trace Regulations

Most of today’s global pharma compliance requirements have a few things in common:

      • Companies must register products with a country’s regulatory body.
      • Companies must send compliance information to a centralized system (e.g., a portal or website like Indonesia’s TTAC).
      • Products must be labeled in a manner that identifies them at the unit level (i.e., serialization) and/or a “higher” level, such as a pallet or case (i.e., aggregation).
      • Regulators prefer GS1 labeling standards [e.g., 2D DataMatrix codes, Global Trade Item Numbers (GTINs), and Serial Shipping Container Codes (SSCCs)]. Read our Understanding GS1 Barcodes in the Global Supply Chain article for a comprehensive overview of these standards.

Indonesia track and trace regulations follow this basic framework:

Registration

Imported and locally produced medicines must be registered with the BPOM before they can be distributed. Pharma companies must have a local business agent or partner to register products, and it’s advisable to obtain all permissions before exporting products to Indonesia.

Labeling

The BPOM requires all medicines sold in Indonesia to be labeled for identification, and upcoming regulations will further require products to be labeled for authentication. The BPOM uses GS1 standards.

Identification Barcodes

Starting on December 7, 2023, traditional medicines and over-the-counter drugs — as well as cosmetics, supplements, processed foods, and some raw materials — were required to be labeled with a QR code that identifies the product in the market and verifies that it’s legal. For products that do not have to be serialized, this is the only marking required.

Identification codes must contain a Marketing Authorization Number and an NIE, or Nomor Izin Edar, which can be translated as “distribution permit number,” both issued by the BPOM. Alphanumeric NIEs provide master product data, including where the product was manufactured, and allow verification through a database called Cek Produk BPOM (“Check BPOM Products,” roughly).

Authentication Barcodes

December 7, 2025, is the deadline for serializing and labeling narcotics and psychotropics (e.g., antipsychotics and antidepressants) with a 2D DataMatrix code. By December 7, 2027, all prescription drugs, including biological products, must be serialized and authenticated. Aggregation, following GS1 standards, is also required.

The authentication codes must contain the following information:

      • A GS1 Global Trade Item Number (GTIN)
      • A Marketing Authorization Number from the BPOM
      • A production code or batch number
      • An expiration date
      • A serial number

Companies can obtain codes from the BPOM or from an independent source.

Some products/packs are exempt from the authentication requirement. These include blister packs, strip packs, pre-filled syringes, stick packs, single packaging, and catch covers.

Other Indonesia Track and Trace Regulations: Distribution

The BPOM has other requirements coming into effect between 2024 and 2026:

      • December 7, 2024: Distribution centers with minimum stock keeping units (SKUs) of 1,500 serialized products must submit reports to the BPOM.
      • December 7, 2025: “Second-tier” distribution centers (min. 750 serialized products) must submit reports to BPOM. Note that this coincides with the deadline for serializing and labeling narcotics and psychotropics.
      • December 7, 2026: “Third-tier” distribution centers (min. 400 serialized products) must submit reports to BPOM. This applies to certain categories of pharmacies or clinics.

Electronic Leaflet Pilot (2023-2025)

A pilot for electronic leaflets (e-leaflets) began in July 2023 and is scheduled to conclude in July 2025. Wanting to transition from a paper-based system, the BPOM plans to develop a dedicated mobile app for scanning a single code (likely the mandated GS1 2D DataMatrix code) that will take users to information online. The pilot is being conducted in three phases:

      • Phase I for vaccines and injections (completed)
      • Phase II for prescription drugs, including vaccines and injections (completed)
      • Phase III for over-the-counter and prescription drugs, including vaccines and injections (in progress)

Final Thoughts About Indonesia Track and Trace Regulations

As we said above, Indonesia is seeking to expand and open its pharmaceutical sector to foreign participation and investment. Pharma companies that already have an in-country presence or that want to enter the market must fully understand — and comply with — Indonesia track and trace regulations.

This is where we can help. Our solutions for global pharma compliance will help ensure you’re prepared for Indonesia’s requirements for product identification, serialization, and aggregation.

It’s all part of our 20-year commitment to protecting patients, combatting counterfeit drugs, and securing supply chains. Our solutions report into all global government agencies, help ensure you meet your regulatory obligations, and protect products and people everywhere you do business. Contact us today to learn how it works!

 

 

FSMA Produce Safety Rule: Cultivating Compliance in Agriculture

The Food Safety and Modernization Act (FSMA) is going to have a major impact on the food industry. FSMA gives the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) enforcement capabilities to promote food safety, transparency, and quality, and the FSMA Produce Safety Rule is particularly important to the changes.

The FSMA Produce Safety Rule applies to commercial growers, harvesters, and packers of produce. The rule includes preventive controls designed to mitigate the spread of pathogens and foodborne illness through agricultural water, wild animals, and any raw agricultural commodity designed for human consumption. Here’s what you need to know.

Importance and Business Value of the FSMA Produce Safety Rule

In effect since January 26, 2016, the FSMA Produce Safety Rule (“Standards for the Growing, Harvesting, Packing, and Holding of Produce for Human Consumption”) is a major step forward for agricultural traceability, food safety, and public health. As the FDA explains, it “establishes, for the first time, science-based minimum standards for the safe growing, harvesting, packing, and holding of fruits and vegetables grown for human consumption. The rule is part of the Agency’s ongoing efforts to implement the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act.”

Familiarizing yourself with the FSMA Produce Safety Rule will help comply USDA and FDA regulations, avoid fines or other regulatory penalties, and promote business continuity. From a value-addition perspective, compliance means you’ll safeguard your products, appeal to consumer demands for transparency and accountability, and protect your brand reputation.

Key Components of the FSMA Produce Safety Rule

The FSMA Produce Safety Rule is built around Good Agricultural Practices. Those practices address the following areas:

Agricultural Water

Water, essential in agriculture, can be a major source of contamination. Both production and post-harvest water require careful management, which may include:

      • Regular testing and monitoring of surface and ground water for pathogens
      • Water treatment to meet safety standards
      • Maintenance and inspection of water sources

Strictly monitoring and protecting water is vital for ensuring compliance with the FSMA Produce Safety Rule.

Employee Health and Hygiene

Employee health and hygiene are paramount when dealing with produce for human consumption. When workers are sick or lacking training, they’re more likely to become (unintentional) sources of contamination.

Examples of health and hygiene requirements include instructing employees to notify their supervisors if they may have a health condition that may result in contamination of covered produce or food contact surfaces, using hygienic practices when handling such produce or surfaces (e.g., washing and drying hands, and taking measures to prevent visitors from contaminating produce and surfaces).

Domesticated and Wild Animals

Grazing animals (e.g., livestock), animals used for work applications, and wild animals (e.g., deer and feral swine), can compromise produce safety. The FSMA Produce Safety Rule requires farmers “to take all measures reasonably necessary to identify and not harvest produce that is likely to be contaminated.”

These measures include visually examining the growing area and all covered produce to be harvested and, in some circumstances, conducting an additional assessment during the growing season and taking reasonable steps to assist during harvest if significant evidence of potential contamination by animals is found, such as placing flags outlining an affected area.

Biological Soil Amendments

Biological soil amendments of animal origin (BSAAO) are soil amendments that contain materials of animal origin. These materials may include raw manure or non-fecal byproducts such as table waste, animal carcasses, or any combination thereof.

Though biological soil additives can enhance the quality and nutrient profile of soil, they also carry some risks. Therefore, make sure that any additives are properly treated to reduce pathogens.

Production of Sprouts

Sprouts are particularly vulnerable to contamination by dangerous microbes due to the warm, moist, and nutrient-rich conditions needed to grow them. The FSMA Produce Safety Rule has requirements to help prevent the contamination of sprouts, such as:

      • Taking measures to prevent the introduction of dangerous microbes into or onto seeds or beans used for sprouting
      • Treating seeds or beans that will be used for sprouting (or relying on prior treatment by the seed/bean grower, distributor, or supplier with appropriate documentation)
      • Testing irrigation water for certain pathogens and attaining negative results
      • Testing the growing, harvesting, packing, and holding environment for the Listeria species or Listeria monocytogenes
      • Taking corrective actions if spent sprout irrigation water, sprouts, and/or an environmental sample tests positive

Equipment, Buildings, Tools, and Sanitation

The condition and cleanliness of your farm’s infrastructure — greenhouses, germination chambers, and toilet and hand-washing facilities — play a crucial role in compliance and safety. The FSMA Produce Safety Rule establishes standards related to equipment, tools, and buildings to prevent them from contaminating produce, including from inadequate sanitation.

Therefore, you should establish a routine for cleaning and sanitizing tools, equipment, and buildings. Regularly inspect and maintain equipment to prevent it from becoming a contamination source. Where possible, design facilities and equipment to be easily cleaned and to prevent harborage of pests and accumulation of dirt.

Compliance Guidelines for Farmers

The FDA provides resources explaining FSMA requirements, including the Produce Safety Rule. Let’s look at some practical tips for promoting and simplifying compliance.

One major hurdle is creating an actual compliance policy. If you run a farm, you need a comprehensive policy that addresses all facets of the Rule. This fact sheet from USDA is a helpful tool for designing and implementing your policy. If you operate a large farm, read the FDA’s “What to Expect Now That Larger Farms Must Comply with the FSMA Produce Safety Rule” here. Also check out the Sprout Safety Alliance at the Illinois Institute of Technology and the Produce Safety Alliance at Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, for example.

Once you know which rules apply to your farm, develop a plan to address each relevant area. Remember, incremental improvements to enhance safety is a place to start; you don’t have to revamp your entire operation overnight.

Recordkeeping and Documentation

FSMA 204 establishes additional traceability recordkeeping requirements for companies that manufacture, process, pack, or hold foods included on the Food Traceability List (FTL). If the Produce Safety Rule applies to your business, you should also familiarize yourself with The Final Rule on Requirements for Additional Traceability Records for Certain Foods — also known as the “Food Traceability Final Rule.”

FSMA 204 requires you to maintain (keep) and share accurate records of your products as they move through the supply chain. If you get audited, you’ll have to produce these records. Download our food traceability white paper to learn more about these requirements.

Water Quality and Agricultural Practices

The water quality provision (and most other provisions) of the FSMA Produce Safety Rule went into effect in 2018. Since then, the FDA has been ramping up enforcement actions. They have paid particularly close attention to water quality. Under the rule, you have to test the untreated groundwater for generic E. coli. If you use water that has been treated with a validated process or from a public source, testing is not required. Additionally, you are prohibited from using any untreated surface water for harvest or post-harvest purposes.

Soil Amendments

The FSMA Produce Safety Rule includes other provisions regarding soil usage — specifically, the introduction of animal byproducts into your soil. If using raw manure or any other animal byproducts to enhance soil productivity, you must take precautions to mitigate the risk of contamination. Be careful when sourcing manure and other animal-based soil enhancements, and always verify that the provider is compliant with FSMA provisions.

Final Thoughts: Being Proactive Simplifies FSMA Compliance

The FSMA Produce Safety Rule is being enforced now, and the deadline to comply with FSMA 204 traceability requirements is January 20, 2026. As we’ve said all along, the key to FSMA success is to be proactive. Specifically:

      • Study the law and know your obligations and your trading partners’ obligations.
      • Talk with your trading partners to ensure they’re compliant now and preparing for January 2026.
      • Assess your operations for compliance with the FSMA Produce Safety Rule and Food Traceability Final Rule.
      • Make sure you’re working with a knowledgeable and reliable solution provider — someone who can help you comply while keeping your supply chain moving at peak performance and leveraging the FSMA regulations to create business opportunities.

This is where we can help. We offer a full-stack solution for the food industry. We can answer your questions, show you in concrete detail how we create end-to-end traceability in supply chains, and discuss how to use traceability to safeguard your brand and protect your bottom line. Contact us today to talk with us and schedule a demo.

And read this if you’re interested in learning about how rfxcel technology helped a major berry producer control the safety and quality of more than 1.5 billion products.

Foreign Supplier Verification Program (FSVP): What It Means for FSMA

The Food and Drug Administration Food Safety and Modernization Act (FSMA) is going to change how the U.S. food supply chain works. And not just for U.S. companies. When the law takes effect in January 2026, foreign companies that import food to the United States must also comply. This is what the FSMA Foreign Supplier Verification Program (FSVP) is all about.

If you’re an importer, you’re subject to the FSVP under FSMA. If you’re a U.S.-based company, you want to make sure your non-U.S. trading partners are compliant.

Here is everything you need to know about the FSVP so that you can achieve and maintain FSMA compliance.

What Is an Foreign Supplier Verification Program? What Is the Significance?

Technically, FSVP stands for Food Supplier Verification Programs (plural). An FSVP is a program that promotes traceability, food safety, and transparency across the entire food supply chain. It mandates that importers perform certain activities to facilitate public health protection and verify that imported food meets the FSMA safety requirements.

Under a Foreign Supplier Verification Program, importers are required to verify that the food they import meets U.S. safety standards. They must develop, maintain, and follow an FSVP for each food imported, unless an exemption applies. The goal, therefore, is to ensure that every imported food has been produced in a way that delivers the same level of public health protection as the applicable FSMA requirements, and that food is not adulterated or misbranded with respect to allergen labeling.

Why is the Foreign Supplier Verification Program necessary? The answer is simple: The United States imports billions in food each year. According to the USDA, the U.S. imported $148 billion in agricultural products in 2020. U.S. food also includes a huge amount of imported animal products.

By extending FSMA requirements to importers and their suppliers, the Foreign Supplier Verification Programs promote increased safety and accountability. It also provides insights into each foreign supplier’s performance, enabling U.S. food businesses to make informed decisions about their trade relationships and promote good manufacturing practices.

Who Is Covered by the FSVP?

It defines an importer as “the U.S. owner or consignee of the food offered for import (i.e., owns the food, has purchased it, or has agreed in writing to purchase it at the time of U.S. entry).” If there isn’t a U.S. owner or consignee at time the product enters the USA, the FSVP defines the importer as “the U.S. agent/representative of the foreign owner/consignee, as confirmed in a signed statement of consent.”

The important takeaway is that there must be a U.S.-based FSVP importer who takes responsibility for meeting the FSVP requirements.

Key Components of the FSVP

The Foreign Supplier Verification Program is built on widely accepted food safety standards and preventive controls rules. Key FSVP requirements include the following:

      • Hazard analysis: Importers must analyze hazards associated with each food.
      • Supplier verification: The FSVP outlines appropriate supplier verification activities that importers must complete.
      • Corrective actions: Procedures must be in place to address identified issues.

Requirements for Importers

An FSVP importer may need to perform the following activities, unless they’re exempt or subject to modified requirements.

Verify Suppliers

Conduct appropriate supplier verification to assure that the hazards requiring a control in the food you import have been significantly minimized or prevented. These activities may include annual onsite audits by a qualified auditor, sampling and testing food, and reviewing the supplier’s food safety records.

Perform a Hazard Analysis

Hazard analyses must include identifying “known or reasonably foreseeable hazards” and determining if they require a control. The FDA notes several types of hazards, including the following:

      • Biological (e.g., parasites and disease-causing bacteria)
      • Chemical (e.g., radiological hazards, pesticide and drug residues, natural toxins, unapproved additives, food allergens, and nutrient deficiencies or toxicities in animal food)
      • Physical (e.g., objects in food products such as glass)

Evaluate Risks

You must evaluate risks that the food itself and the foreign supplier’s performance could pose. In doing so, you must consider the following:

      • Your hazard analysis for the food
      • Who will apply the hazard controls (e.g., the supplier or its ingredient supplier)
      • The supplier’s food safety practices and procedures
      • Applicable U.S. food safety regulations and information about the supplier’s compliance
      • The supplier’s food safety performance history, which should include testing and audit results and the supplier’s record of correcting identified problems.

Perform Periodic Reassessments

You have to reassess your foreign suppliers every three years — or sooner if the FSVP importer becomes aware of new information about hazards in the food or changes in the foreign supplier’s performance.

Identify the FSVP Importer

As an FSVP importer, you are required to provide the U.S. government with the following information about your organization:

      • Legal business name
      • Electronic mailing address
      • Unique facility identifier (UFI)

The FDA accepts the Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) number as a UFI. FSVP importers temporarily unable to obtain a DUNS number have since May 2017 been permitted to transmit the value “UNK” (i.e., “unknown”) in the UFI field, allowing food to be processed through the Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) Automated Commercial Environment (ACE) system, even if the importer has not yet provided a DUNS number.

Other Requirements

You must use a qualified person to develop an FSVP and to perform FSVP activities.

Furthermore, you must take corrective actions (if necessary) and investigate the adequacy of the FSVP (when appropriate). The corrective action will depend on the circumstances; for example, the best course of action may be to stop using the foreign supplier until the problem (e.g., noncompliance, adulteration, misbranding) has been adequately addressed.

Last, you’re required to maintain detailed FSVP records. A U.S. agent can request these records during an audit. Alternatively, they might review them during a randomized compliance assessment. Make sure you retain all digital records related to your FSVP compliance activities for at least two years.

Role of Technology in FSVP Compliance

Old-school compliance strategies can’t keep pace with the stringent recordkeeping and analytics mandates found in the Foreign Supplier Verification Program framework. Instead, you need a robust suite of technologies designed to accelerate and simplify compliance.

Adopting food supply chain software will empower your team to gather and manage key details about trading partners. With the right tools in place, you can transform food safety and regulatory compliance into an integrated part of your company culture.

Collaboration with Foreign Suppliers

FSVP compliance is a joint effort; you cannot achieve and maintain compliance without the support of your foreign suppliers. Reputable and successful foreign suppliers will embrace FSVP, as they understand that they cannot import their goods to the United States without complying.

Use this to your advantage. Reach out to your trading partners, relay what requirements apply to your organization and its operations, and develop a cohesive strategy to meet FSVP provisions. Building strong relationships with suppliers is key to a successful verification and hazard mitigation program.

FSVP Rollout and Influence

To date, compliance with the Foreign Supplier Verification Programs has been a challenge for many importers. According to a 2020 FDA report, in 2019 the Agency issued 340 citations to companies for failing to develop an FSVP — a 17 percent increase over 2018. In total, there were 354 non-compliance citations, including for failing to:

      • Follow or maintain the FSVP
      • Translate the FSVP into English when applicable
      • Sign and date the FSVP upon modification
      • Make adequate assurances of a supplier’s food safety

Over the last two years, the FDA has ramped up enforcement, which means that preparedness and diligence are more important than ever. As the Agency itself says, “Being prepared is key to avoiding a citation.”

Even with these challenges, the food industry should anticipate that FSVP will have a broader, sustained impact on global food supply chains. Along with FSMA, it encourages international suppliers to elevate their food safety standards, adopt best practices, and embrace food safety in a digital, traceable supply chain. This will lead to a more uniform global food safety system, enhancing consumer confidence in the safety of foods everywhere.

It’s likely that more and more countries will enact or continue rolling out similar food safety regulations on imported goods. When they do, it will accelerate the push toward safer, more sustainable food production practices.

Final Thoughts: Achieve Foreign Supplier Verification Program Compliance

As we’ve seen, the FSVP requires a lot of importers and their foreign suppliers, and many organizations have struggled with compliance.

The keys to success (and avoiding citations and fines) are preparedness and proactive implementation of FSVP practices and technologies that will yield a safer and more transparent food importation process.

If you don’t know where to start, contact us today to book a demo. Our traceability and transparency solutions for the food and beverage industries not only take the guesswork out of compliance — they transform all your supply chain data into true business value.

EPCIS DSCSA Exceptions Handling: What Is It and Why Is Everyone Talking About It?

Just a little over four months into the FDA’s DSCSA extended stabilization period and with the clock ticking down to the November 27, 2024, compliance deadline, EPCIS DSCSA exceptions handling is top-of-mind in the pharma industry.

But why? Let’s take a look at EPCIS DSCSA exceptions handling and how we can deal with it to ensure DSCSA compliance.

EPCIS DSCSA Exceptions Handling Keeps Your Products Flowing

The DSCSA requires the interoperable, electronic exchange of serialized product data. Specifically, trading partners must exchange Transaction Information (TI) and Transaction Statement (TS) data every time a regulated drug changes hands.

Exceptions are errors that may occur when partners exchange this data using EPCIS. If there’s an exception, the product cannot move forward in the supply chain, which means it won’t reach patients and consumers in a timely manner. Furthermore, if exceptions aren’t resolved quickly, a product could be considered suspect or illegitimate.

This is why EPCIS DSCSA exceptions handling is top-of-mind for the pharmaceutical industry.

Given the complex nature of securely exchanging serialized product data, it’s logical to expect exceptions, especially in the early days of enforcement. The Healthcare Distribution Alliance (HDA) has identified six categories of EPCIS DSCSA exceptions:

      1. Data Issues
      2. Damaged Products
      3. Product, No Data
      4. Data, No Product
      5. Packaging
      6. Product Hold

Exceptions have been on the HDA’s radar for years. At its Traceability Online Seminar in November 2021, for example, industry leaders discussed establishing standards for dealing with exceptions. They also discussed example scenarios, such as overages as a “Product, No Data” exception. In this scenario, a downstream trading partner might have 16 cases arrive at its facility but receive EPCIS data for only 15 of those cases. How does it notify the manufacturer? How does the manufacturer correct the TI so the case can be removed from quarantine and be on its way?

The message is clear: Trading partners must focus on building a system that quickly communicates and resolves data issues so products can keep moving.

Note: Also remember that the DSCSA requires all partners to be authorized trading partners (ATPs). This isn’t necessarily relevant to our discussion today, but it’s a critical part of compliance.

EPCIS DSCSA Exceptions Handling Solutions: Communication and Collaboration

The most important thing to remember about dealing with exceptions is that trading partners must communicate and collaborate. You are not working in a vacuum, and there is not a “lone wolf” solution for exceptions handling.

Herein lies the challenge. The communication infrastructure in the pharma supply chain — emails, online portals, phone calls, and so on — wasn’t designed with DSCSA compliance in mind, let alone dealing with exceptions handling in an interoperable, electronic data-exchange system.

So, in order for an EPCIS DSCSA exceptions handling solution to be effective, it must be built on a foundation of fast, targeted, and precise communication between/among the right people. In the overages example above, this would mean the trading partner that received the extra case would know exactly who to contact at the manufacturer, what information to share with that person, and how long it would take to fix the data error.

Are You Ready for EPCIS DSCSA Exceptions Handling?

The FDA’s extended stabilization period has given the pharmaceutical industry an additional year to prepare for the full serialization of the U.S. drug supply chain, including being able to deal with EPCIS DSCSA exceptions handling.

This is good news for everyone. But you have to use this time to ask yourself the tough questions:

      • Do you have systems up and running?
      • Are you testing your systems?
      • Are you communicating and collaborating with all of your trading partners?
      • Are you complying with the DSCSA requirements that are enforceable right now?
      • Are you working with a solution provider that fully understands your role in the supply chain, your product(s), your business, and your DSCSA compliance needs?
      • Are you going to be ready for November 27, 2024?

We are here to help. We have led on the DSCSA since rollout began in 2014. Today, we’re working with the industry to develop a collaborative approach to exceptions handling using GS1-based error correction.

Don’t let bad data disrupt your business. Contact us today to learn more. We’ll ensure you receive compliant data from your trading partners, quickly resolve data quality issues, and keep your products moving.

FSMA Warehouse Requirements: A Comprehensive Guide for Compliance

Passed in 2011, the Food Safety and Modernization Act (FSMA) is transforming the U.S. food supply chain. The law applies to most members of the food supply chain, including harvesters, coolers, packers, processors, distributors, and retail food establishments. The deadline to comply with the regulations, including the Final Rule on Requirements for Additional Traceability Records for Certain Foods, is January 20, 2026.

As the deadline approaches, it’s vital to ensure you’re making preparations to comply. Though this definitely includes rules regarding harvesting and transportation it’s important to remember that FSMA also addresses food storage and warehousing. With that in mind, let’s take a deep dive into FSMA warehouse requirements and what they mean for your business.

Understanding FSMA Warehouse Requirements

FSMA includes a set of rules that govern food production and distribution. FSMA 204, the Food Traceability Final Rule, established additional traceability recordkeeping requirements for persons who manufacture, process, pack, or hold foods included on the Food Traceability List (FTL).

There are seven other rules, some that could affect operations and compliance at your warehouses and other facilities:

      • Preventive Controls for Human Food: Must meet Current Good Manufacturing Practice mandates, perform hazard analyses, and implement preventive controls.
      • Produce Safety Rule: Must establish science-based standards for packing, production, and storage of fruits and vegetables
      • Foreign Supplier Verification Program (FSVP): Requires foreign suppliers to demonstrate that they are meeting U.S. food safety standards
      • Sanitary Transportation Rule: Establishes regulations for sanitary transportation of food items
      • Accredited Third-Party Certification Rule: Created a program to accredit specific third-party certification bodies to conduct food safety system audits of foreign facilities.
      • Protection Against Intentional Adulteration: Aims to prevent foodborne illness by guarding against intentional adulteration
      • Voluntary Qualified Importer Program (VQIP): Optional fee-based program for foreign food facilities that want to import foods into the U.S.

We know it can be challenging to understand the FSMA rules. While focusing on the totality of the regulations — how they’ll affect your operations, your trading partners, the industry in general, and even consumers — always pay attention to the rules that pertain to your specific, day-to-day role in the supply chain.

For instance, if you operate food warehouses, be sure you understand the FSMA storage regulations just as well as you understand the FSMA 204 traceability requirements.

FSMA Warehouse and Storage Regulations

The primary goal of the FSMA regulations is to prevent foodborne illnesses and protect public health. Though this is the main driver for compliance, keep in mind that non-compliance can slow or stop your operations, damage to your brand reputation, and irk your customers and consumers.

With this in mind, here are the basics of FSMA warehouse requirements:

      • Pest Control: Food safety plans must protect food items from indoor and outdoor pests
      • Sanitation: Consumers must be protected from allergen cross-contact and pathogens
      • Temperature Controls: Especially important for animal foods like meat, eggs, and milk

Additionally, you’ll need to meet the FSMA 204 traceability requirements. Read more about those in our blog here.

Implications for Distributors

If you’re a distributor, FSMA warehouse and storage requirements directly affect your operations. The law requires you to keep and maintain records that show you and your partners are compliant and adhering to food safety requirements. This means you should be coordinating with your partners right now to make sure they’re preparing to share information and comply.

You’ll also need to closely monitor warehouse operations. Pay close attention to refrigeration guidelines, and take corrective actions immediately if you detect a deficiency. Also make sure you have the right sanitation controls in place, as this will help prevent cross-contamination.

Key Practices for Compliance

So what can you do to comply with FSMA? Beyond contacting us to discuss the requirements and the concrete steps you can take now, here’s a short list of things to keep top of mind:

Create a Food Safety Culture through Training

Your team is the first line of defense against outbreaks and compliance slip-ups, so make sure they have a foundational knowledge of the law. A well-trained team can help you be prepared for FSMA warehouse requirements and keep your facilities safe, compliant, and efficient. Training should include FSMA basics — traceability, modernization, food safety, etc. — as well as information about food processing best practices and your organizational commitment to safety and compliance.

Audit Your Processes

One key to compliance is to be audit-ready. The USDA or FDA may never come knocking, but you should act like it’s an inevitability. Conduct your own audits to identify compliance gaps in your storage and distribution processes. Internal audits will also reveal pain points and other inefficiencies that affect your operations.

Implement a Robust Recordkeeping System

FSMA stipulates that supply chain actors must maintain and share product information with their partners. The law also says that companies must share records with the FDA within 24 hours of a request (or within a mutually agreed-upon timeframe). If should you be audited, expect repercussions if you don’t have the required traceability information on hand.

Have a Plan for Safety — and More

Create a food safety plan and share it with your team. Anyone involved in maintaining food safety and preventing foodborne illness should know your plan inside and out.

You should also create a recall strategy. This should include how to share information with the FDA and other authorities and your trading partners. It should also include how to communicate with consumers about affected products and how to dispose of them safely.

Final Thoughts: Be Proactive with FSMA Warehouse Requirements

The best and quickest path to complying with FSMA warehouse requirements is to work with a reliable, experienced technology provider like us. Our supply chain solutions for the food and beverage industry will ensure you’re ready for January 2026 and the FSMA regulations for traceability, storage, and recordkeeping.

Connect with us today and one of our FSMA compliance and supply chain traceability experts can show you how it works. In about 15 minutes, you’ll have a better understanding of the law, how prepared you are, and how to get to full compliance by January 2026.

FDA Postpones Enforcement of Key DSCSA Requirements to November 27, 2024

In a guidance document published on Friday, August 25, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that it was delaying by one year enforcement of key requirements under the Drug Supply Chain Security Act (DSCSA). This “extended stabilization period” moves the enforcement date to November 27, 2024.

The guidance is primarily for manufacturers, wholesale distributors, dispensers, and repackagers; delayed enforcement pertains to product identifiers at the package level; saleable returns; interoperable, electronic product tracing; and investigating suspect and illegitimate products. We provide the specifics below.

The key takeaway: Don’t stop preparing for the DSCSA requirements. If you have questions about the DSCSA delay or are concerned that your current provider may not have the tools you need to comply, we encourage you to contact us today to speak with one of our DSCSA experts. We are committed to meeting DSCSA compliance for all our customers in a timely manner.

And if you’re going to the Healthcare Distribution Alliance (HDA) 2023 Traceability Seminar in Washington, D.C., stop by Table-Top 21 to meet our team and talk about the developments in person. Click here to learn more.

Overall FDA rationale for the DSCSA delay

The FDA said extending enforcement will give supply chain stakeholders — particularly manufacturers, wholesale distributors, dispensers, and repackagers — the extra time that may be necessary “to continue to develop and refine appropriate systems and processes to conduct interoperable, electronic tracing at the package level, to achieve robust supply chain security under the DSCSA while helping ensure continued patient access to prescription drugs.”

Furthermore, the Agency said, “additional time beyond November 27, 2023, may be needed for systems to stabilize and be fully interoperable for accurate, secure, and timely electronic data exchange.”

What DSCSA requirements are affected?

Product identifiers

The requirement. Trading partners must include the product identifier at the package level for each package in a transaction into the transaction information. Furthermore, a product’s manufacturer or repackager must incorporate the PI at the package level for each package “introduced in a transaction into commerce.” These requirements are included in section 582(g)(1)(B) of the Food, Drug, and Cosmetics Act (FD&C Act).

Reasoning for DSCSA delay. The FDA said the delay will “accommodate the additional time (beyond November 27, 2023) that may be needed by trading partners to achieve compliance and to help ensure continued access to prescription drugs as trading partners continue to refine processes” to include the PI at the package level. Furthermore, the FDA said “this policy will facilitate the use and exhaustion of product supply already in the supply chain prior to November 27, 2024.”

What is a PI? The PI is a standardized graphic that contains, in both human-readable form and on a machine-readable data carrier, four data elements:

      1. National Drug Code (NDC)
      2. Serial number
      3. Lot number
      4. Expiration date

Saleable returns

The requirement. Each person accepting a saleable return must have systems and processes in place to allow acceptance of the product. Furthermore, they may accept saleable returns only if they can associate the product with its transaction information — including the PI — and transaction statement. These requirements are included in section 582(g)(1)(F) of the FD&C Act.

Reasoning for DSCSA delay. FDA said delaying enforcement of this requirement until November 27, 2024, will “facilitate the continued use of methods currently being used by wholesale distributors for associating a saleable return product with its applicable transaction information and transaction statement while accommodating the additional time that may be needed for all trading partners to mature the new systems and processes required for acceptance of saleable returns.”

Interoperable, electronic product tracing at the package level

The requirement. Transaction information and transaction statements must be exchanged in a secure, interoperable, electronic manner. This requirement is included in section 582(g)(1)(C) of the FD&C Act; the standards for exchange are established under section 582(h) of the DSCSA.

Furthermore, systems and processes for verifying products at the package level, including the standardized numerical identifier, must meet the standards established in DSCSA section 582(a)(2) and the guidance in DSCSA section 582(h).

Reasoning for DSCSA delay. The FDA these policies will allow trading partners to continue to provide, capture, and maintain data for the data exchange for product tracing and verification while providing additional time that may be needed to “continue to develop and refine systems and processes for electronic data exchange.”

Investigating suspect and illegitimate products

The requirement. In the even of a recall or to help investigate a suspect or illegitimate product, stakeholders must be able to promptly provide product transaction information and transaction statement when requested by the FDA secretary or other appropriate federal or state official. This requirement is included in section 582(g)(1)(D) of the FD&C Act.

Furthermore, Section 582(g)(1)(E) of the FD&C Act requires stakeholders to “produce the transaction information for each transaction going back to the manufacturer” in certain situations, including a recall or investigating a suspect product or an illegitimate product.

Reasoning for DSCSA delay. FDA believes these compliance policies will facilitate the continued use of methods currently being used by trading partners to respond to the type of requests for information described above while accommodating the additional time that may be needed for trading partners to mature the new systems and processes required for such activities under section 582(g)(1)(D) and (E) of the FD&C Act.

FSMA Rules: A Guide to FDA Food Safety Modernization Act Regulations

The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) is transforming the food supply chain in the United States. Learn about FSMA requirements and how they affect the food industry.

Understanding the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA)

The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), signed into law in 2011, aims to reduce foodborne illness, protect the U.S. food supply, and ensure public health. The law gives the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authority to regulate the production, processing, packing, and transport of food throughout the country.

The FDA has finalized nine major rules through FSMA that address different aspects of the food supply chain. FSMA covers both human and animal food, and the rules are designed to address issues such as traceability, sanitation, produce safety, and supplier verification.

7 FSMA rules and requirements

Through FSMA, the FDA has issued rules that govern food production and distribution. The food traceability final rule established additional traceability recordkeeping requirements for persons who manufacture, process, pack, or hold foods included on the Food Traceability List (FTL). Additionally, there are seven main roles that the FDA implemented in the final FSMA rules.

      1. Preventive Controls for Human and Animal Food: Require food facilities to meet Current Good Manufacturing Practice (CGMP) requirements, conduct hazard analyses, and establish risk-based preventive controls.
      2. Produce Safety Rule: Established science-based standards for the production, packing, and storage of fruits and vegetables on farms in the U.S. and other countries.
      3. Foreign Supplier Verification Program (FSVP): Requires foreign suppliers to show that they are meeting food safety standards required in the U.S.
      4. Sanitary Transportation Rule: Established regulations for the sanitary transportation of human and animal food.
      5. Accredited Third-Party Certification Rule: Created a program to accredit specific third-party certification bodies to conduct food safety system audits of foreign facilities.
      6. Protection Against Intentional Adulteration: Aims to address the probability of an outbreak due to potential food safety risks of intentional adulteration.
      7. Voluntary Qualified Importer Program (VQIP): fee-based program provided by the FDA FSMA to foreign food facilities that intend to import their products into the country.

Other rules concern protection against intentional adulteration of food and guidelines for the use of agricultural water.

Compliance strategies for FSMA

Navigating FSMA can be complicated, especially as rules are proposed, reviewed, and finalized. To implement effective compliance strategies, organizations should:

      • Review: Start by conducting a thorough review of FSMA requirements to understand which rules apply to your business.
      • Develop: Create a robust FSMA food safety plan that’s tailored to your operations, including hazard analysis and critical control points (HACCP).
      • Implement: Establish preventive controls and monitoring systems across the organization and have a plan in place for food recalls.
      • Verify: Use audits and validation procedures to ensure compliance.

Implementing FSMA’s Preventive Controls and Hazard Analysis

FSMA’s Preventive Controls for Human Food, finalized in 2015, was created to minimize and prevent hazards at food facilities. Key components of this rule include:

      • Current Good Manufacturing Practice (CGMP) revisions: FSMA updated FDA’s existing CGMP requirements to create binding requirements for employee education and training.
      • Food safety plans: The rule created new requirements for risk-based preventive controls and hazard analysis at food facilities, including sanitation practices and allergen controls.

Businesses covered under the Preventive Controls rule must perform a hazard analysis of their facilities and products, implement food safety practices, and provide ongoing monitoring and verification of all preventive controls.

Ensuring FSMA compliance in supply chain management

Even if you’re confident about your organization’s food safety practices, you need to know that your supply chain partners are holding themselves to the same standards. Establishing clear supplier approval and verification processes can help you thoroughly vet the growers, suppliers, processors, or distributors you work with.

By implementing traceability and documentation requirements, you’ll be able to track specific products and lots in real-time. As with your internal processes, conduct regular assessments to ensure suppliers and co-manufacturers are maintaining FSMA compliance.

Final thoughts: FSMA rules and regulations

The worldwide food industry should monitor events in the United States as FSMA traceability requirements evolve. It’s not just about compliance and being able to sell products in America; it’s about being able to anticipate regulatory trends, keeping your supply chain moving at peak performance, and leading in the industry through adaptation and innovation. It’s also about leveraging the FSMA regulations to create business opportunities.

We understand the importance of complying with FSMA and other regulations for the food and beverage industry. We have extensive experience delivering tailored traceability, visibility, and transparency solutions that not only help ensure compliance, but also create added value for operational efficiency, brand protection, and customer loyalty. Contact us today and one of our traceability experts will show you how it works.

And be sure to download our “Traceability in the Food Supply Chain” white paper, which explains the FSMA Food Traceability List and the Food Traceability Final Rule in detail.

The Importance of Food Traceability: Impacts on Safety and Business

As food traceability regulations continue to evolve, it can be difficult to navigate requirements and ensure you remain compliant everywhere you do business. Find out more about the traceability of food products in this guide from Antares Vision Group and rfxcel.

Understanding food traceability

In broad terms, traceability is the process of utilizing data to know the history of everything in your supply chain — every input and ingredient, every finished product. Traceability empowers you to know where something came from, where it has been, and where it is right now. It’s the ability to find granular details about the past and present of an item.

No matter your role in the supply chain, food traceability can play a vital role in securing and improving your business, from ensuring you comply with regulations to helping manage risks (e.g., making recalls faster and more accurate) and connecting with consumers.

Benefits of food traceability

The advantages of a strong food traceability system for you, your partners, and your customers include:

      • Food safety: Traceability reduces the risk of foodborne illnesses and helps ensure your products are safe for consumption.
      • Risk mitigation: If a food safety issue does arise, traceability facilitates prompt, informed responses. For example, traceability speeds food recalls and targeted product withdrawals to minimize the impact on public health and lessen interruptions to your operations.
      • Operational efficiency: Food traceability solutions act across your supply chain to improve operations and make it easier to manage your inventory.
      • Trust: Food traceability can help build consumer trust and confidence through transparent processes and demonstrating that you are a reliable brand whose products are exactly what you say they are.

Key elements of food traceability

The primary components of a good food traceability system include:

      • Identification: Companies must be able to trace individual products and raw materials back to specific locations, batches, lots, etc.
      • Product tracing: Each product must be traceable from farm to fork, with granular documentation that captures its journey at every stage of the supply chain.
      • Data capture and management: A strong, centralized system is needed for collecting, analyzing, sharing, and storing traceability records.
      • Authentication: Verification tools ensure the accuracy and integrity of food traceability data and can help resolve errors before they affect other parts of the supply chain.

Implementing food traceability systems

Here are some things to consider if you want to implement a new food traceability solution or improve your existing systems:

      • Evaluate: Start by assessing traceability requirements and regulatory obligations. Examine what industry leaders are doing to identify best practices and opportunities.
      • Select tools: Choose the appropriate traceability technologies and systems for the type of products you grow, pack, process, distribute, etc. (Working with a reliable, experienced solution provider is essential.)
      • Implement processes: Establish your traceability protocols and standard operating procedures, training relevant staff. (Again, make sure you’re working with a solution provider that will work with you and your team to ensure implementation is quick and efficient.)
      • Collaborate: Work with partners and stakeholders to implement traceability measures across the supply chain.

Food traceability in action: U.S. FDA Food Safety Modernization Act

Passed in 2011, the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) made sweeping reforms to food safety regulations in the United States. The legislation empowered the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to create and enforce rules on how food is harvested, processed, stored, and distributed throughout the United States.

FSMA’s No. 1 goal is to reduce the rates of illness from foodborne pathogens; food traceability is an important component of the FDA’s strategy to achieve that goal. The Agency’s primary guidance for traceability is the Food Traceability Final Rule, which went into effect in November 2022. It establishes additional traceability recordkeeping requirements for businesses that manufacture, process, pack, or hold foods on the Food Traceability List (FTL).

These food supply chain stakeholders are responsible for establishing and maintaining critical tracking events (CTEs) and associated key data elements (KDEs) for events such as harvesting, cooling, packing, and receiving. CTEs and KDEs are the building blocks of food traceability under FSMA. Read our food traceability white paper to learn how they work.

What food products are required to be traced under FSMA?

FSMA’s Food Traceability Final Rule sets the recordkeeping requirements for any business that manufactures, processes, packs, or holds foods on the Food Traceability List, which includes almost 20 types of food, such as:

  • Fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Leafy greens
  • Melons
  • Nut butters
  • Finfish
  • Crustaceans
  • Soft cheeses
  • Ready-to-eat deli salads

Final thoughts: food traceability

Traceability is essential to ensure the safety, transparency, and quality of the global food supply chain. Our goal is to equip businesses with modern food traceability solutions that improve operational efficiencies, comply with regulations, foster consumer confidence, and help create a more secure and transparent food industry. Offering end-to-end traceability, visibility, and transparency, our solutions for the food and beverage industry make it easy to track and trace products across every step of the supply chain. Contact us today to speak with one of our traceability experts and see a short demo of how our solutions work.

The Ultimate Guide to Supply Chain Visibility: Enhancing Efficiency and Performance

The ability to monitor each part of your supply chain helps your business mitigate risk, serve customers better, and work more efficiently. Find out more about the importance of supply chain visibility in this guide from Antares Vision Group and rfxcel.

Understanding Supply Chain Visibility

Modern business operations require a high level of coordination and logistics. A company may source raw materials from one location, have a manufacturing facility in another location, and deliver products to customers all over the world. To produce, package, and ship goods efficiently, they need a centralized tracking system.

Supply chain visibility traces a product from its raw materials and through the manufacturing process to the point at which it reaches a customer’s doorstep. A visibility solution allows a business to track all its goods through every step in the supply chain. Supply chain visibility can:

  • Increase efficiency
  • Ensure customer satisfaction
  • Inform decision-making
  • Improve sustainability

Ultimately, visibility – or lack thereof – affects your bottom line.

Benefits of Supply Chain Visibility

To stay competitive in today’s globalized economy, businesses need efficient systems for monitoring supply and demand. Supply chain visibility benefits include:

  • Tracking: Real-time tracking and traceability tools streamline inventory management, offering automation for many routine tasks.
  • Efficiency: Visibility tools enhance the accuracy of demand forecasting and reduce the likelihood of stockouts.
  • Risk management: Full visibility means that teams can respond more quickly when there is a supply chain disruption, mitigating the risk and minimizing delays.
  • Optimization and better collaboration: Supply chain management systems help companies communicate better with suppliers, optimizing relationships and fostering collaboration.

Key Components of Supply Chain Visibility

Although supply chain visibility systems may differ from company to company, they all focus on transparency at each node of the supply chain. This includes:

  • Inventory visibility: Companies can track and manage inventory levels and procurement across all their locations.
  • Transportation visibility: All products in transit can be tracked and monitored in real time.
  • Demand visibility: Robust supply chain network data allows businesses to understand customer patterns and forecast demand more accurately.
  • Supplier visibility: Real-time visibility tools allow you to monitor supplier performance and ensure timely deliveries.
  • Data visibility: By collecting information about inventory, transportation times, and more, companies can turn data analytics into actionable insights and adjust workflows or supply chain processes.

Implementing Supply Chain Visibility

Putting supply chain visibility tools into place takes time and effort, but it’s well worth the benefits you’ll reap in operational efficiency and better business performance. To implement supply chain visibility, start by assessing your current systems. Look for areas of improvement across the supply chain – have you experienced stockouts in a particular product line? Do you struggle to meet customer demand at a certain time of year?

Next, look for the right technology solutions that can enhance visibility across your entire ecosystem. Perhaps you have a good system in place for monitoring customer orders but need a better way to manage suppliers. Look for supply chain software that can integrate with your existing systems and address gaps in visibility.

You need a seamless flow of information across your technology platforms. Additionally, prioritize data security in any supply chain visibility initiative. Compliance with data privacy regulations is a must for your company, as well as any suppliers, shippers, or distributors you work with.

Best Practices for Supply Chain Visibility

Whether you work in pharmaceuticals or food and beverage, certain practices will improve visibility across the entire supply chain. These include:

  • Metrics: Have a clear set of goals and metrics in place that you will use to measure your success.
  • Collaboration: Build strong partnerships with suppliers to enhance transparency and efficiency.
  • Technology: Invest in cloud-based platforms and advanced analytics tools with built-in supply chain security.

Above all, adopt a proactive approach to risk management and contingency planning. While some supply chain disruptions are out of your control, having a plan in place will make it easier to minimize inefficiencies and shortages.

Overcoming Challenges in Supply Chain Visibility

Even with the best-laid plans, you may face roadblocks when trying to improve end-to-end supply chain visibility. Potential challenges include:

  • Supply chain data quality issues and data silos
  • Resistance to change and organizational barriers
  • Regulatory compliance and data privacy concerns

Managing a significant volume of data, especially when you are working in the context of a complex global supply chain with multiple partners and stakeholders, can feel overwhelming. That’s why it’s so important to find supply chain visibility software that integrates with all your data collection systems. You should look for a software service provider that is well-versed in regulatory compliance and has built-in data protections.

Understand that even when you choose an intuitive, user-friendly system, you’re likely to face pushback from some employees or partners. Plan a thoughtful implementation and roll-out process, with time built in for staff training. This will help address any concerns.

The Future of Supply Chain Visibility

Emerging technologies and digital transformation are changing the supply chain management landscape. Already, we’re seeing the value of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning in supply chain software solutions. AI-powered tools can analyze real-time data to inform forecasting, using predictive analytics to inform orders, pricing, warehouse placement, and more.

The Internet of Things (IoT) and blockchain technology are also shaping supply chain visibility. By giving all supply chain stakeholders access to the same information, blockchain tools can potentially reduce fraud and data errors while improving communication. And the proliferation of IoT devices means that real-time tracking is easier throughout order processing and delivery.

We’ll Help You Achieve Supply Chain Visibility

We offer supply chain visibility solutions that prioritize efficiency and compliance management. With offices in the United States and abroad, we serve clients in sectors including:

  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Food
  • Beverage
  • Consumer goods
  • Government

For information on our supply chain visibility tools or to request pricing, contact us today.