Food Safety Update: Equipment Acquisition

The Food Safety Update section of Food Manufacturing is designed to offer our readers insight into the state of food safety concerns across the industry. We received hundreds of responses to this month’s survey on equipment acquisition.

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This article first appeared in the October 2013 issue of Food Manufacturing.

The Food Safety Update section of Food Manufacturing is designed to offer our readers insight into the state of food safety concerns across the industry. We received hundreds of responses to this month’s survey on equipment acquisition.

Keeping food safe across the supply chain requires serious investment — of time and labor, but also of capital. This month, we asked readers to share their experiences investing in food safety through equipment acquisition.

According to the chart at right, most food manufacturers report food safety plans are flexible when it comes to equipment acquisition. This means processors are willing to put in the time to adjust food safety plans to incorporate newly installed equipment rather than forgoing “ideal” planning in order to avoid the hassle of readjusting plans.

Such a decision can be tricky. The decision to go with a best-practice plant layout or a best-in-class piece of equipment should have a positive impact on food safety within a facility. But readjustment of food safety plans that accompany these in-plant changes should be done with care, ensuring that no newly created critical control points are missed.

With this in mind, 70 percent of Food Manufacturing readers report food safety factors “very” heavily into equipment acquisition decisions, with only 4.3 percent saying it has “little” impact on their decisions.

As seen in the chart at left, food manufacturers report a variety of equipment acquisitions that prompt updates to food safety plans. 54.9 percent of readers report such an acquisition has occurred in the past 12 months, and 59.7 percent report making updates to food safety plans in order to remain in compliance with food safety regulations in the wake of the Food Safety Modernization Act, while 35.2 percent report making an equipment acquisition to stay compliant.

In order to make these key decisions, 70.3 percent of food manufacturers report making current food safety plans available to equipment vendors during the research and acquisitions processes. This high rate is unsurprising when considering readers’ response to another question in this month’s survey. When asked whether they “find that equipment manufacturers are aware of and sensitive to the need for food manufacturers to maintain high sanitary levels and meet food safety standards,” 86.7 percent of survey respondents said, “yes.”

Close relationships with equipment vendors who understand the demands of processing according to high sanitary standards will remain increasingly relevant to food processors. When asked about changes to their equipment acquisition budget over the past 12 months, readers responded that their budgets:

  • Remained unchanged—43.1%
  • Increased—37.9%
  • Decreased—19.0%

With equipment budgets overall remaining steady or increasing, food processors report being provided the financial support necessary to maintain the high sanitary standards the market requires.

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