Many manufacturing companies are feeling the burden of packaging compliance in their factories, and the ever-changing rules and guidelines only add to the complexity of getting it right.
Most manufacturing premises are reliant on paper-based systems, such as label check sheets in preparation for an audit, to keep compliant and reduce errors on the packaging line that might lead to a product recall.
But what happens when someone makes one small mistake and something is missed off a check sheet or is signed-off incorrectly? Is an increase in check sheets and additional supervisors really the answer, or is a more robust system needed?
Typical things you/the supervisor should be asking about your paper or labelling systems include:
- Are there procedures for checking that the correct labels are applied to products and are these procedures audited regularly?
- Are there checks in place between processing and packing to ensure the correct packaging is used on the right product, for example the use of automated label verification systems?
- Is there a protocol for destroying old packaging when a recipe change is introduced?
- Are there systems in place to ensure that packaging is removed at the end of a run, including any packaging that may be in place on packaging machines?
- Is there a protocol to ensure that the correct outer packaging is used for multi-pack products and that allergen information appears on, or is visible through, both the inner and outer wrappers?
For more advice on what you should be considering, check out this example allergen control checklist for manufacturing premises, created by The Food Standards Agency (FSA).
Reduce the burden of packaging compliance
Paperwork systems are theoretically bulletproof but, in practice, they’re subject to human error. No matter how many check sheets you have when signing off labels, things can be easily missed when you are trying to check ten or more things as well as keeping an eye on the production line
Having a robust system in place to evaluate your labelling and packaging for compliance will ensure that you:
- Understand the technical requirements for correct labelling and packaging of products
- Minimize the possibility of products being removed from shelves
- Reduce the risk of legal suits from non-compliance
- Gain consumer trust through fair labelling and value comparison
- Reduce or remove the need for paperwork
So does that mean more checklists and sign offs is the way forward ? With the fundamental problem that people are bad at doing repeatable and boring tasks, especially in a production environment, maybe a completely different approach has greater merit.
A better strategy is to use automation to reduce the burden of paperwork and ensure 100% compliance. Computers can do thousands of things the same way every second, do not get distracted or become bored and they don’t exercise discretion. Now isn’t that the kind of quality inspector that would allow you to sleep more easily at night, knowing that your products are being packaged and coded correctly?
An AutoCoding system reduces much of the physical paper records of completed quality checks, which corresponds to a reduction in storage requirements and the risk of non-compliance is minimised.
So in conclusion, having multiple check sheets in place isn’t doing yourself any favours. To really minimise non-compliance, a robust system such as AutoCoding is required.