Facts about the (food and beverage) industry that could [surprise] you

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Like any other industry, the food and beverage industry too, is unique in its own way, carrying its own set of characteristics. It is a curious mix of the big and the small, not only in terms of the size of companies in it, but also the reach of these companies.

In a sense, the food and beverage industry is a global one, if only because almost no part of the world is excluded from it. It can be said to global from another perspective: Many players in the food and beverage industry are real global giants with footprints in almost every continent. Think of Coca Cola, McDonalds, Subway, Baskin Robbins and many other such brands that cater to global palates. Yet, it is fragmented too, i.e., many food supply chains cater to small regional or domestic markets. Across the globe, there are literally hundreds of such brands whose reach is limited to a localized area.

The food and beverage industry is a heterogeneous market with an awesome variety of the food that is produced, distributed and consumed in various parts of the world. Another characteristic of the food and beverage industry is that it is one of the industries most profoundly affected by changes brought about by globalization and technological advances. All the services from this we receive sitting in the comfort of our homes is the result of these developments.

Some facts and trends of the food and beverage industry that could surprise you

Make no mistake: The F and B industry is colossal, to put it mildly. Its 2017 size was estimated at $5.6 trillion globally with an impressive CAGR of over 10 percent. The size of the US market alone is estimated at some $700 billion. The F and B industry is served by a huge variety of establishments that deal with food, beverages, tobacco products and pet food. Being an industry of this size, it is natural that the food and beverage industry has its own facts, trends and trivia. Let us look at some of the facts and trends of the food and beverage industry that could surprise you:

The industry is gearing up for the Millennials

Ah, the millennials…they seem to be everywhere. From the colleges and schools that teach them to the companies that hire them, a whole set of industries seems to be getting built around them. The food and beverage industry has not been insulated from the influence of this generation. Expecting this generation to make a huge chunk of its future market, the food and beverage industry is gearing up to this generation’s tastes and preferences. It has been making plans to alter the tastes, packages and many modes of production to suit this generation’s tastes. For example, they are more conscious of food facts and are likely to prefer freshly packed foods.

Gluten is the new cholesterol

What cholesterol was made out to be a decade back-the vilest ingredient on this planet-is now making way for gluten. Most foods are gluten free and consumers strongly insist on this requirement. Whether gluten too will go the way of cholesterol and go back to the good books of food experts in the years to come remains to be seen, but as of now, it is something of a nasty villain.

The itch for organic food

If gluten is despised, organic food is the new blue-eyed boy of the F and B industry. In not just the westernized economies of the US, EU and Japan and others; organic food is making inroads into urban pockets of places like India, China, and many other markets.

The food and beverage industry may be fragmented, but it is not unprofessional

The first impression most people get when they hear of an industry that is fragmented is that it should be unorganized or unprofessional or both. Nothing is farther to the truth than this assessment when it comes to the food and beverage industry. It may be unorganized in a sense, when one considers that not at all employers guarantee working conditions and benefits, but the industry is not without its hordes of professionals who are from highly regarded universities. Many prestigious universities and institutions offer fulltime, regular courses in food and beverages.

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How Compliance Education Is Going to Change Your Business Strategies?

This is why it is important and often, necessary for them to get compliance education.

Regulatory compliance is something organizations in most industries have to deal with. Almost every industry has its own set of regulations that are framed by the respective regulatory bodies. In niche areas such as medical devices, pharmaceuticals, healthcare, finance, aerospace, information technology and such others, the FDA has a very detailed set of regulations.

The aim of these regulations is to ensure that the quality of products and services offered by the industry is up to set standards. These standards are made with the intention of ensuring the quality of products and services, right from their earliest stages till the time they get consumed. The regulations also cover the processes employed to produce these products or services.

Given the intense, stringent and comprehensive nature of these regulations; it is not often possible for individuals working in the regulated industries to get a complete idea of how to implement them. This is why it is important and often, necessary for them to get compliance education.

Compliance education or compliance trainings may not always be mandatory for all regulations, but its implementation is. And, it is quite possible for organizations to stay compliant even without getting trained unless the regulations state so; yet, getting trained makes unquantifiable difference to the organization. These trainings have the potential to make such an enormous difference that organizations that choose not to offer compliance training to their employees could be lagging behind their competition.

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Let us examine how compliance education is going to change your business strategy:

Ensures that the organization meets the regulatory expectations

Complying with regulations demonstrates that the organization is meeting the legal expectations set out by the regulatory authorities. Compliance education is the surest and most foolproof method for ensuring that this is happening, because compliance education is what provides focus and direction in fully understanding the nature and meaning and interpretation of these regulations.

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The Role of Technology in the Medical Devices Industry

which new technologies have the potential to impact medical devices in a big way?

With almost everything under the sun being touched in one or another way by technology; medical devices are not exempt from this influence. Technology and medical devices have always had a strong bond with each other. Newer technologies that have sprung up over the past few years have accentuated their already strong linkage. So, which new technologies have the potential to impact medical devices in a big way? There are many, but let us consider these among them:

Artificial Intelligence: Undoubtedly, the real shaker for the medical devices industry is AI. AI has been around for a while now, but with the major impetus it received with the advent of the cloud, which makes its monstrous amounts of data manageable, AI’s prowess seems more capable of actualizing. Take IBM Watson for instance. It is being seen as a technology that can alter the landscape of the healthcare industry. Its uses in the medical devices industry too may become more prominent in the years to come.

IoT: The Internet of Things is another phenomenon that could impact medical devices strongly. The day is not far off where we will be able to get IoT to carry out all the manual tasks of the industry today. The most crucial element it could introduce into the industry is likely to be connectivity. Connectivity of medical devices could alter the game for the medical devices industry.

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Facts About Compliance Courses

What is compliance? We all know the commonly used meaning of the term. One of the meanings The Oxford Online Dictionary has for compliance is its being “(t) he state or fact of according with or meeting rules or standards”. So, in the context of the regulated industries, compliance is being in a state of acquiescence or agreement with the regulatory requirements. The rules or requirements are set out by the regulatory authorities such as the US FDA or the European Union’s European Medicines Agency (EMA), or The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) of the UK, or The Pharmaceuticals and Medical Devices Agency (PMDA) of Japan, or any other around the world.

The regulations these regulatory agencies set are aimed at ensuring compliance with standards. Of course, it goes without saying that these standards are aimed at ensuring quality and safety of drugs and other health-related products such as medical devices, food, medicines, life sciences and pharmaceutical products. It is to be in compliance with the regulations set out by these agencies that organizations that come under these regulatory bodies spend a fortune.

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Why? Simple:

– Being in compliance ensures that their products are approved for release into the market, failing which all that they spend on producing the product goes down the drain;

– Lack of compliance results not only in hefty penalties and fines and other punishments which could go all the way to imprisonment; it could also result in earning a bad reputation, the quickest means to get out of business.

Compliance requirements, expectedly, are very stringent. This is very natural, considering the nature of the products that are regulated. No regulatory agency likes to take chances with the health of the people. One spurious drug in a lot of thousands could be enough to cause damage to the consumer. So, regulating these products is as onerous as ensuring the security of every individual in a nation or society.

Compliance requirements are couched in very formal and often incomprehensible language. Since the industries are highly specialized, it is impossible for the regulatory agencies to avoid jargon or legalese. It is to help understand the nuances of these regulations that organizations need the services of compliance professionals. These professionals are specialized in the particular and exact nature of these regulations and do what is required to ensure compliance.

Despite the existence of these compliance officers, many organizations could still need understanding of the regulations. This could sometimes be because of the frequency of the regulatory updates or the urgency in meeting their requirements. Or, these could be beyond the resources the organization can allocate or afford for meeting compliance requirements. Further, the nature of some regulations could be such that even experienced compliance officers may need clarity. On such occasions, organizations need the services of compliance trainings.

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Active managerial controls are an integral part of risk-based [food inspections]

Risk-based food inspections need to be carried out at all levels at which food is produced and consumed, making it a task of mammoth proportions.

Food inspections occupy a position of primacy among the FDA’s list of mechanisms aimed at maintaining and enhancing food safety. Since it is the sole regulatory body in the US for food, it is natural that the FDA attaches the highest importance to ensuring the safety and efficacy of food that is consumed across the nation.

Towards ensuring this, the FDA has initiated a number of plans and strategies. A seamless, informal and micro level activity in this list is risk-based food inspections. Risk-based food inspections start by identifying the risk factors inherent in the food chain. Risk-based food inspections need to be carried out at all levels at which food is produced and consumed, making it a task of mammoth proportions.

Compliance with HACCP guidelines is necessary

Risk-based food inspections need to be carried out in accordance with the practices and guidelines established by the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) manual. The FDA looks for a HACCP-oriented approach to carrying out risk-based food inspections.

The first task in carrying out risk-based food inspections is to identify the sources of contamination, of which there are several. The FDA expects its regulatory program managers to carry out field tests in virtually every food establishment across the length and breadth of the nation.

Locating a pin in a haystack, if necessary

When carrying out risk-based food inspections; these managers have to look for every possible source of risk to which food can be subjected. These are just some of the sources from which food can get contaminated, meaning that these are the points at which to carry out risk-based food inspections:

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Active management control

The FDA acknowledges that all food has some or another kind of contamination. So, during risk-based food inspections, it has to be convinced that the food outlet is taking the right steps to contain this contamination. This action, called active managerial control, is a principle that is at the root of risk-based food inspections. The FDA seeks to ensure that a food facility has put in place and is implementing an active management control system.

This is what risk-based food inspections should facilitate. A properly implemented active managerial control is arrived at after a thorough and careful assessment of the food organization’s points of contamination.

In order to properly evaluate this, regulatory managers and food inspectors need to probe what measures are being taken by the organization to have an active managerial control in place. Any step that serves the purpose of identifying, reducing, preventing or eliminating food safety hazards is considered as serving the purpose of an active managerial control by risk-based food inspections.

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Regulatory managers and food inspectors need to use their discretion in judging whether the active management controls are sufficient and effective. For this to happen, risk-based food inspections have to be done after a careful understanding of the entire food preparation process.

Many steps to an active management controls regime

Risk-based food inspections look for loopholes in activities and steps that are taken to ensure that food is free of contamination and safe for consumption, which can include:

For Reference http://www.fda.gov/downloads/Food/GuidanceRegulation/UCM078159.pdf

Food hygiene and environmental health are close pals of each other

For food to have proper hygiene; the environmental condition in which it is prepared and handled has to be sound.

Food hygiene and environmental health are closely tied to each other. This is natural, considering that in any of the activities relating to food – its preparation, handling, transportation and finally, consumption – there is a direct relationship with nature, or the environment. Food hygiene and environmental health are inseparable from each other, because their relationship starts and ends with each other.

Food hygiene and environmental health are linked in such a manner that food hygiene is maintained when there is all-round environmental health. For food to have proper hygiene; the environmental condition in which it is prepared and handled has to be sound.

Working at the micro level

For food hygiene and environmental health to work in tandem with each other; some steps can be taken at the micro level, meaning steps that everyone who is involved in any activity relating to food has to ensure hygiene standards.

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Food hygiene and environmental health can indeed be maintained with the implementation of a few steps. These are not the usual compliance standards that food hygiene standards from various countries regulatory authorities require or have set.

These food hygiene and environmental health procedures are to be taken at a micro level, because ensuring food safety involves having to keep every aspect of the food chain in proper shape and condition.

Some steps to ensure food hygiene and environmental health

Food hygiene and environmental health have to be maintained at the basic level upwards to ensure that steps that are taken are environment-friendly. A few steps that can be taken to ensure food hygiene and environmental health include:

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Food fraud spoils value for all

Globalization and a much more complex supply chain are contributors. It is also very difficult for consumers to judge the characteristics of the product.

Emerging research from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln shows food fraud can have industrywide impacts, beyond just consumers.

Nebraska agriculture economists Syed Imran Ali Meerza and Christopher Gustafson tracked how an incident of fraudulent activity changed consumer behavior toward all extra-virgin brands.

The research showed that the value of products from each country’s producers declined, some by more than 50 percent.

Meerza said the study illustrates the need for better policing of the food industry in order to protect consumers and producers.

“We’ve shown there’s a negative spillover affecting all producers when consumers see this information,” Meerza said. “That has important policy implications because if there is negative activity going on in an industry, what should an industry do? This shows there needs to be a counteraction to that negative information.”

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Food fraud, or the act of purposely altering, mislabeling or tampering with any edible product, is a growing problem in global food supply chains. According to the U.S. Congressional Research Service, there have been 60 percent as many incidents of food adulteration from 2011 to 2012 than had been identified in the 30 years between 1980 and 2010.

“Food fraud is nothing new, but the intensity and frequency have been on the rise,” Meerza said. “Globalization and a much more complex supply chain are contributors. It is also very difficult for consumers to judge the characteristics of the product.”

Research surrounding food fraud has largely focused on incidents and effects on consumers. Meerza and Gustafson said very little of research has focused on producers’ reputations and livelihoods after an incident occurs. Their study is helping increase understanding of the impacts on producers and the industry itself.

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