Managing Allergen Information with Product Information Management
September 4, 2019
Increasing numbers of allergy sufferers in the UK are placing more pressure on businesses to clearly and accurately manage and label their allergen and ingredients information, as transparency within the supply chain is vital to the success of a company.
With more than 150 million Europeans suffering from chronic allergic diseases, it is vital to properly manage allergen information or face damage to both reputation and profits.
A study has found around 10 people die every year in the UK due to allergic reactions from food, something which companies involved in cases of death due to the mismanagement of allergen information know all too well.
It is hard to avoid the media storms encountered by those who have not properly managed their allergen information, as the rise of social media enables media frenzies to spread in seconds. While this not only damages a company’s reputation, businesses found to be involved in cases of anaphylaxis or death due to the improper labelling of allergens in their products can fall victim to much more than a loss of custom.
It is estimated that the mismanagement of allergen information which can cause a product to be recalled costs, on average, $10 million; a large sum to pay for something which can be easily avoided by the proper management of allergen information.
Transparency within the supply chain is essential for minimising the risk of customer illness and company damage, something which is difficult without the help of product information management software which allows complex allergen information and potential contamination risks to be collected directly from the supplier.
Many companies do attempt to manage allergen information, however, without the right tools, it is often a labour intensive, time-consuming process.
The threat of unidentified allergens harming a customer and brand is enough for businesses to be concerned, however, the use of emails and spreadsheets to record allergen information are often disorganised.
These systems do not provide a single source of data, allergens or ingredients, creating silos of information which cannot be easily accessed if a reputational crisis were to hit.
Managing allergen information using multiple sources of data means it can take multiple employees several days to gather and send information from suppliers to the relevant departments within a company, creating a large administrative burden with no clear approval or recording process. This is without mentioning the time-consuming task of finding and updating documents in multiple systems, or the rekeying errors which can occur during the inputting and sending of data.
Multiple suppliers and vast numbers of products and information can lead to difficulty in accurately collecting and managing allergen information, however ARCUS® SIM’s Product Information Management (PIM) plug-in ensures detailed information about potential allergen risks can be recorded, mitigating potential risk.
PIM allows companies to tailor the questions they ask suppliers, ensuring as much information about ingredients and allergens is collected as possible including product specific information. This not only ensures the conformity to company and government legislation but also the protection of companies’ customers and brand.
The plug-in PIM ‘is crucial in demonstrating [companies’] have taken the steps to mitigate risks and to ensure the highest standards of quality and ethical sourcing in [their] business’, which helps to create a lucrative, reputable brand known for proper management of allergen information.
Gunilla Gustafsson, Quality & Food Safety, AAK
By using PIM, responsibility is placed on to suppliers to upload the correct information regarding product specifications and potential allergens, which when completed is automatically sent to the relevant person within a company for approval.
All product information can then be stored alongside all other supplier, product and site information, proving due diligence has been exerted throughout the supply chain.
PIM enables companies to ‘request, review and access all product specification information in an efficient way’, while also providing an ‘audit trail of the steps taken to mitigate the risk and provides a deeper, more granular level of control and insight over site and product information in one streamlined solution’.
Maria Loftus, Senior Technical Manager, TGI Fridays
Trade Interchange’s software enables companies to ensure all allergen information is properly managed and stored, providing a transparent, detailed product history which can protect the company from encountering any potential disrepute.
PIM ensures businesses can properly manage allergen information, which allows customers to make informed decisions while potentially saving an allergen-sufferers’ life.