Quality and Safety

Knowing the Rules and Leveraging Resources to Ensure Regulatory Compliance

By Omar Al-Saigh, Director of Quality and Technical Services, Royal Crown Cola International

In Africa, food safety is a life or death issue, with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reporting 2,000 food safety-related deaths each day. To assure consumer confidence that bottlers’ products are of the highest quality, supplier partners must play a leading role in enhancing quality assurance measures and making strides in the global effort to ensure food safety.

Rise in Initiatives and Government Regulation

African nations are paving the way to standardize and improve quality assurance /control. In the past year, select Sub-Saharan and North African countries made notable regulatory changes, as well as strides toward growing overall consumer awareness of food safety issues. These efforts included the East African Community’s Regional Workshop on Harmonization of Food Safety Measures, which offered a “Better Training for Safer Food (BTSF) in Africa” initiative. This initiative aims to educate participants about specific EU laws designed to ensure consumer protection, in the hopes that this knowledge will ultimately ease access to the EU market. Similarly, the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI)’s focus days brought global and regional food safety experts together to facilitate collaboration, knowledge exchange and best practices surrounding the push for tighter regulations and enforcement in Africa.
Now more than ever, beverage manufacturers are challenged to comply with ever-evolving regulations. It is vitally important to work with an experienced supplier that understands the changing industry landscape and can play an essential role in helping improve a bottler’s product quality; all while preventing product recall.

Start with Safe Ingredients to Ensure a High-Quality/Safe Product

Bottlers must take extra steps to ensure compliance with export regulations. In light of the stringent food safety regulations increasingly adopted worldwide, bottlers must guarantee that all of their raw ingredients and procedures meet or exceed regulatory standards to ensure a high-quality/safe product.

In addition to raw materials, export regulations will examine the source of the water supply and water treatment system being used. When developing a water treatment system, bottlers should plan for constant monitoring of the water chemistry and extensive employee training on water standards, as well as conservation, sustainability and proper cleaning measures.

The complexity of these regulations makes it essential to work with a supplier partner whose expertise and services can provide regulatory services for ingredients and water supply – one that can ensure products comply with the highest food safety standards around the world.

Know the Food Safety and Food Quality Codes

Best practices mandate that a company know the codes. Bottlers must be aware of country-wide health and safety standards in order to receive up-to-date certifications of approval. As a first step, bottlers must follow Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) and Good Hygiene Practice (GHP), which outline standards in quality control for raw ingredients as well as standards of hygiene to be applied to manufacturing premises, machinery, personnel and training.

GMP practices help bottlers prepare for regulatory inspections and also set the stage for certification in the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) food safety management system. Bottlers must ensure quality management and employee commitment to help execute HACCP practices, which are designed to prevent hazards that can occur during production and preparation, contaminate the finished product, and make it unsafe. Compliance with HACCP ensures that each process step is analyzed for contamination and that proper procedures are set in place to control and prevent potential hazards. These procedures range from proper food safety monitoring, which includes ingredients and water management systems, record keeping, corrective actions as well as critical control limits. Compliance with each of these HACCP procedures allows manufacturers to detect potential food safety hazards well ahead of time.

Bottlers must work with seasoned suppliers who can implement rigid testing for concentrates/ingredients and samples that must be tested and in compliance before the final beverages leave the factory. It is crucial that sample analyses for water, sweeteners, and finished products be routinely tested to ensure GMP, GHP, and food safety compliance.

Stay Ahead of Regulatory Requirements

Royal Crown Cola International’s quality assurance program provides bottlers the support they need to offer consumers high-quality end results. RCCI’s state-of-the-art R&D facility, located in Columbus, GA, monitors changing requirements and has top-notch food technology experts and engineers routinely develop, monitor and test ingredients and formulations to safeguard against any risk of regulatory non-compliance. The standards that RCCI has established in quality assurance/control and in water chemistry practices ensure a consistent quality and flavor for beverage products worldwide.

As food safety regulations in Africa evolve, beverage manufacturers can ensure compliance with greater ease by understanding and utilizing the resources available to them. They can meet the necessary goals by seeking out supplier partners that meet the highest international food safety and quality assurance standards.

About Royal Crown Cola International (RCCI)

Royal Crown Cola International’s (RCCI) portfolio offers a wide array of beverages. Its flagship brand RC® Cola, one of America’s original colas and leading brand for 108 years, is joined by the fresh and fruity flavors of RCQ®, crisp lemon-lime taste of Upper 10®, naturally delicious juices of Chadwick Bay™, refreshing energy blend of Red Rain®, and the thirst-quenching mixers of Ben Shaws®. Enjoyed by consumers around the world, RCCI’s products are available in more than 60 countries through a global network of bottlers and distributors. Royal Crown Cola International is a division of Cott Beverages Inc., a subsidiary of Cott Corporation (NYSE: COT, TSX: BCB). Trademark registration status varies by geographic territory. For more information about our products, please visit www.rccolainternational.com.

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