In 2014, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration documented over 253 food recalls in Q1 & 2 alone, so with the end of the year fast approaching, it's important that we take a step back and review what lessons we've learned in the food and beverage industry, as well as take a look ahead at what 2015 holds.

Changes to the FSMA proposed rules. The FDA has issued changes to four of the seven proposed FSMA rules - Preventive Controls for Human and Animal Food, the Produce Safety Rule, and the Foreign Supplier Verification Program. In 2014, organizations have been on a “wait-and-watch” mode, mainly focused on first understanding the requirements, and then analyzing what is required within the organization to ensure compliance.

Rising number of food safety issues across the supply chain.Incidents of expired meat, meat adulteration, E.coli and salmonella contamination have exposed vulnerabilities in food supply chains and tarnished the reputations of those organizations involved. It only takes one incident to become front-page news, spreading virally over social media sites. In 2014, organizations within the food industry struggled to manage and implement standardized quality, safety and compliance requirements across their complex supply chain. Now, as a result, organizations are increasing the adoption of food safety standards and devising strategies to promote visibility, transparency and reliability across their supply chain.

Increasing adoption of technology.In 2014, food & beverage organizations of all sizes turned to advanced and sophisticated technology solutions to automate and streamline various components of their quality, safety and compliance programs. There has been a great focus on automating food quality audits, safety compliance, food specification management, complaints management, and corrective actions management.

2015 Predictions: What does the future hold?

Preparing for FSMA implementation. With the FSMA final rules expected in August 2015 to early 2016, food and beverage organizations will be putting increased focused on preparing for compliance with the requirements. We expect organizations to increase their investments in risk-based preventive approaches to food safety and quality. Some organizations are already in the process of assembling their internal teams, hiring external consultants and experts, identifying the associated risks, and working towards creating a more pervasive culture of food safety. The majority of organizations will look to adopt and follow this approach throughout year 2015.

Focus on integrating food safety initiatives with Enterprise Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC) programs.Today’s rapidly changing risk and regulatory landscape has led organizations to integrate their oversight functions – such as enterprise risk, compliance and audit functions – with their quality and safety compliance programs. In year 2015, more and more companies will integrate these functions and programs. With this integration, organizations will be able to gain a more unified view of their real-time risk and compliance profile, better understand the impact of quality risk on enterprise risk, and harmonize their enterprise-wide compliance management efforts.

Focus on establishing a culture of quality and safety across the supply chain.Given the reputational and financial damage associated with food safety incidents and recalls in 2014, in year 2015 organizations will focus on improving their supplier quality and compliance management programs by adopting industry standards such as GFSI, which will help bring more reliability and efficacy. By driving a culture of quality and safety across the supply chain, organizations will benefit from greater collaboration across multiple tiers of suppliers, and will be better poised to build more loyal relationships with their customers. In the year ahead, organizations will also focus more on driving forward sustainability initiatives that make more efficient use of energy and natural resources, with a focus on minimizing their environmental and societal impacts.

MetricStream ( is a global provider of governance, risk and compliance solutions (GRC).