Maintaining quality control standards for food and beverage R&D

Andrey Badalyan March 19th 2021
Food Tech Quality Control Food & Beverage R&D

Quality control assurance is one of the most important aspects of the food and beverage industry. Maintaining quality control standards is more crucial for food and beverage R&D companies than for other industries as they go hand-in-hand with consumer safety and therefore with the success of a business. Regardless of the stage of a business, being a large multinational organisation or a small business, keeping up with the latest developments in food and beverage quality control is central for keeping an organisation afloat in this highly competitive industry. In this article, we will explore some tips to help food and beverage R&D businesses ensure that their practices are safe and up to date with current quality control standards such as the ISO22000, SQF and HACCP and to integrate these practices into the business’s DNA. We will also discuss the benefits of maintaining high quality control standards for a food and beverage R&D business.

1. Set expectations In order to establish an effective plan for maintaining high standards of quality control, it is important to develop a set of expectations for the quality assurance program. Importantly, in order to achieve the best results, these expectations need to measurable. Selecting effective ways of determining the quality of processes within the company may be challenging, especially during COVID-19, where food and beverage safety is a top concern for both consumers and industry managers. To address this issue, managers are advised to consider the bigger picture. Firstly, considering the cost which poor quality can potentially bring for an R&D business is the first step to setting expectations. What is the potential cost of poor quality that your business is ready to accept? As standard, these numbers fluctuate between 10 and 15% of annual revenue across the industry, however, considering the augmented consumer sensitivity during the pandemic, managers are advised to decrease this number to adjust for inadequate response from consumers after experiencing a public quality issue. Besides setting expectations regarding cost, food and beverage businesses should also develop prevention and mitigation strategies for poor quality control. An effective way of achieving this is to establish periodical independent quality checks which will allow for constant monitoring of safety and quality assurance across all R&D processes. Developing protocols for mitigation of exceptional circumstances of poor food and beverage quality will also help to soften the effect of poor quality control on downstream business processes.

2. Automate processes Just like with biological product manufacturing, diverging human contribution away from standard R&D processes has many benefits including significant advantages for quality assurance. Automating processes allows for identifying the root of poor safety or quality in a food and beverage R&D process. A big advantage of using machines is that the data can be easily traced and the initiator leading to a quality breach can be identified. Automating processes will also reduce reliance on inspections because the majority of devices are able to identify quality control issues early. If you would like to learn more tips on automating R&D labs, you can read our article about automating lab processes here.

3. Identify risks and Establish a data-driven culture to mitigate them This is a crucial component needed for achieving long-term quality control success. Food and beverage R&D companies are advised to leverage long-term data in order to unveil inefficiencies and highlight the issues which are prone to repeat in the future. In order to better understand quality control risks, companies can gather and analyse past data in such metrics as:

  • Product defects
  • Waste management
  • Number of quality control fails or inconsistencies raised Collecting aggregate data and using it to achieve data-driven sustainable improvement allows companies to not only identify risks but also better prepare for their mitigation

Benefits of Maintaining High Quality Control Standards 1. Higher customer satisfaction rates Ensuring high quality through improved quality control, independent reviews of quality standards and due diligence will significantly increase customer satisfaction and boost business results. Improved customer satisfaction has also been shown to generate value for a business. 2. Higher quality means lower quality cost It is often thought that improving quality for an R&D business means increasing costs due to increased spending on quality control and assurance. However, an industry report by McKinsey has shown this to be the opposite – higher standards create a culture of quality in turn boosting product satisfaction and creating value for the business. 3. Progressive Culture Good quality management in food and beverage organisations helps to create a progressive culture of continuous improvement. Such a culture allows for the establishment of standardised processes that make it easier to maintain high quality control practices. It also helps organisations to constantly monitor what is working for them and what isn’t, allowing for quick adjustments to existing quality control processes.

Labstep is a provider of scientific data management software for R&D organisations across industries (Biotech, Pharma, Biology, Chemicals, Agriculture etc) who need to manage, capture, share and use data effectively. The Labstep platform is an end to end flexible research environment that connects your notebook, inventory, applications and data in one collaborative workspace. To learn more about Labstep’s lab inventory management module, get in touch. Contact us or book a demo today.