If you manufacture food or beverage products, you may find that you need an expert to review the formula, the process, and the package and ensure that the product will meet food safety and quality requirements. This person should have relevant education and training as well as experience. Here are ten things to look for before you hire them as your Process Authority.
1. Knowledge of Potential Biological, Chemical, Physical, and Radiological Hazards in Foods
Of course, the Process Authority should know what are the potential risks and how to control them. Having an education in food science and technology is key.
2. Knowledge of Food Processing and Packaging
The Process Authority should know of the time-tested and the novel methods to process and package foods and beverages safely.
3. Knowledge of the Regulations
Federal and state regulations must be adhered to. If you are dealing with state inspection, the Process Authority should be able to understand any nuances you are facing and design a process accordingly.
4. Industry Experience
Ivory Tower pronouncements aren’t that helpful to you. You need to get your product through this hurdle and into market so that you can improve cash flow. A Process Authority with some industry experience will better understand your challenges than someone without such experience.
5. Laboratory Resources
Having the resources to do microbiological or chemical analyses of your products is a plus. If the process authority doesn’t work for a lab, make sure they have connections to a third-party lab that can be easily used for such work.
6. Practical Sense
You need someone who is going to design or recommend a process that is realistic and achievable. Of course you want safe product that complies with all pertinent regulations, but you also want a salable product, that people enjoy and will buy again and again. The parameters of heating or processing should reduce the hazards to an acceptable level, but not destroy the quality and likability of your product.
7. Sense of Urgency
Time is money. Universities can take a long time to get back to you. Meanwhile, you are waiting on the letter to begin producing or distributing to retail markets. A quick turn around time from your process authority is important because you might need to also wait for regulatory approval of the scheduled process before shipping product. Anything longer than 15 business days is usually too long.
8. Soft Skills
These may come in handy if your inspector has any concerns or issues with the process authority’s letter and scheduled process recommendations. Make sure your process authority is able to take a firm, science-based stance without being disagreeable. Nobody wants to deal with a curmudgeon. Also, make sure the process authority is actually willing and available for subsequent questions by the inspecting agency.
9. Extra Advice
I’ve seen too many letters out there that give really basic process recommendations. That may be all you need or want, but sometimes a Process Authority can tell you valuable information when making “Additional Recommendations” about your product/process. This all comes down to mindset. If a process authority takes a standard form-letter approach, you may be missing out on valuable information.
10. Experience with Products Similar to Yours
Is this the first time the Process Authority has written a letter for a product like yours? Hopefully not. Ask up front and see if they have experience with similar types of products.
For more information on Process Authority work from ETNA Consulting Group, please fill out our online contact form.
"ETNA was able to offer expert advice and aided in the improvement of our product testing practices, environmental monitoring program, and general food safety improvements. We will continue to use ETNA consulting for as our Food Safety Consultant.”
Amanda Director of Food Safety
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