Want a better way of managing specifications? You're in the right place!
Challenges our Food Product Specification Software can provide the solution to:
- Current specification processes are complex and manual.
- Audits are a source of stress and you worry that non-conformances will be identified in specification management.
- It is very time consuming getting specifications completed by suppliers.
- Specifications submitted by some suppliers are not completed satisfactorily.
- Management of expiring certificates is time consuming and error prone resulting in more risk of audit non-conformances.
- Extensive time is being taken going backwards and forwards with suppliers to get specifications approved. It seems to be a never ending process.
- When you are asked to answer questions such as “how much palm oil” is used in your supply chain you have to resort to a big data gathering exercise using spreadsheets and countless days going through specifications.
- Everytime there is a RASFF alert or food scare you are not certain if products in your supply chain could be impacted.
Product Specifications in the Food Industry – have they changed over time?
Yes and No. High quality specification documents have been an essential part of food safety systems for ever. For companies involved in product development and supply to retailers of retailer branded products there has been an inexorable movement towards more detailed product specs as retailers look for more detailed due diligence information and make more comprehensive claims on products. The demands on food businesses product specification software and management tools keep increasing as a result.
In recent years the growth of online sales has increased the need for product specifications in the food industry to link to websites and online sales platforms. The business case for product specification software becomes compelling when businesses are selling online.
How can our Food Product Specification Software make your process run smoother?
At all stages in the product lifecycle management (PLM) process our food product specification software can help:
- Development teams who are at multiple locations can all work on the same platform.
- Product development can be managed through agile workflows which ensure everything required to deliver safe, legal and quality products to market happen quicker than using manual processes.
- Requirements management within product development can be captured and adhered to ensuring that final products launched meet the initial briefs.
- All of the key steps required for building a product within the production process can be captured to ensure that when new products transfer to production everything runs smoothly.
- Various stages of production will have different data requirements and these can all be captured and managed.
- The agreed development process is followed with the benefit of agile workflows to take account of inevitable issues that come to light during development.
- Product ideas that arise during development can be captured to ensure that they are not lost for future product development projects.
What is the purpose of a product specification?
Product specifications have multiple purposes, all of which should be able to be managed in product specification software.
Internal product management is where product specifications are used by various departments across a business to document what the product is, what it containts, how it is made etc. More information on the content of a product specification is below.
Customer communication is often the most visible use of food production specifications where the information is shared with customers in a business to business environment or recently some product specification data is being shared with consumers through consumer facing websites and Apps.
Supplier approval and performance management is where specifications are used to ensure that suppliers understand the exact specifications of products being supplied, what quality attributes need to be met and what food safety controls need to be in place. Adherence with product specs is often part of supplier performance management and monitoring.
Due diligence defense. Things can go wrong in the food supply chain. Having well document product specs can be used to demonstrate due diligence and help you identify the source of non-conformance. Specifications can also provide reassurance to regulators that the food business operator has controls in place, that the incident that is being investigated is an isolated incident and that the food business took all reasonable steps to prevent the problem.
What sort of content is included in the document?
Many suppliers of food and drink will have selling specifications which are very short documents containing the minimum legal information. When printed these specifications can often take up no more than 1 or 2 sheets of A4.
For businesses supplying to major retailers or brands it is not uncommon to have more detailed specifications which when printed can be anywhere from 2 pages to 40 pages of A4.
Typical sections could include:
- A general overview of the product including legal name and product codes.
- A recipe section which should always include a full breakdown of ingredients and the compounds within ingredients to include the countries of origin of each ingredient. Other critical information would include the allergens present in each ingredient, processing aids, additives and ingredient grade.
- An ingredient declaration including QUID if applicable.
- An allergen declaration fully compliant with FIR/FIC.
- Preparation instructions.
- Cook & cool instructions if applicable.
- Storage instructions.
- Detailed meat content, processing & animal welfare information if meat products.
- Fish and shellfish standards if a fish product to include declared fish contents, brine details, species latin name, method of capture, where caught.
- Traceability information.
- Assurance schemes and food safety standards applicable.
- Suitability information such as suitable for vegetarians, vegans, coeliacs, lactose intolerants, nuts and peanut allergy sufferers, halal, kosher.
- List of any other sensitive content ingredients such as artificial colours, sweeteners, palm oil, MSG, preservatives.
- Genetic modification status of ingredients.
- Sustainability information of ingredients such as palm and soya.
- Microbiological standards.
- Chemical Standards.
- Analytical standards.
- Physical standards.
- Quality attribute standards (QAS).
- Defect tolerances.
- Packaging information.
- Labelling details including lot coding.
- Shelf life and storage conditions.
This is not an exhaustive list. Our recommendation is to think carefully about requirements and our experienced team are always available to support. If you need help deciding what to include in your specification give us a shout.
Do they need to be aligned with any standards?
GFSI benchmarked standards such as BRC require an approved specification is in place for all raw materials and finished products but do not stipulate the content or format of these specs.