One of the biggest impacts of modern food production has been the standardization of the foods we purchase in our local retail store. For many, there is an almost unconscious expectation that a particular food product we buy today tastes exactly the same as it did last week or last month. And when we find a product that we really like then this expectation becomes a demand. We will accept nothing less than a repeatable gastronomic experience.
For the food industry this is a serious business. One of the quickest most effective ways of losing customers is to disappoint them. Unacceptable changes in taste, texture and colour will send your customers looking for a replacement product quicker than you can say ‘process variation’. Moreover a food business which fails to produce a consistent product runs the risk of making an unsafe and illegal one. The intrinsic safety properties of a product often come from its composition and where chemical preservatives are used standardization takes on particular significance.
To manage this critical area most food companies employ a system of batch control. Even where there is a continuous process present there is usually some form of batching involved in the process. Batching control is used to standardize the company’s formulations of recipes. They are often protected and guarded closely by the company to maintain market position and product differentiation. As I say, it is a serious business.
To change focus slightly, my seven year old son recently introduced me to the wonderful and often bizarre world of Spongebog Square Pants. (For those who don’t have a seven year old son, please stay with me). Spongebob, the cartoon character who lives in a pineapple under the sea, works at the local fast-food restaurant whose popularity is based on its delicious Krabby Patty. The secret formula is closely guarded by the Irish owner Mr. Crabs and Spongebob. Evildoers consistently try to steal the secret formula without success. As long as Mr Crabs can keep producing the patty consistently he will stay in business and make lots of money. Even in the world of a seven year old, control of batching, recipes and formulas is serious business.
Inspired more by the compliance needs of customers than Spongebob we are happy to announce the launch of the third module in our new Monitoring Center – Batching. Taking best practice developed over decades in various food safety and technical standards, we have built a solution which allows you do the following:
- Securely setup batch formulation programs based on quantity and percentage
- Define the testing and monitoring requirements for each batch
- Automatic adjustment for non-standard batch sizes
- Validation of batch formulation for both specification and make up
- Full traceability of all ingredient inputs including split ingredients
- Automatic reconciliation
- Recording of ingredient addition and sign off
- Recording of all batch tests against specification
- Positive sign off of make-up steps
- Release and deviation workflow
The module is ideal for meeting the specific requirements found in GFSI standards and retailer technical standards. Paper records can now be eliminated for this operation and real time oversight is available to supervisors, managers and QA staff. Whether you are producing mom’s apple pie, soft drinks, brines, ready meals, cakes or Krabby Patty our new Batching module is a brilliant and sophisticated control tool and as always we want to hear your feedback.