Innovative foods are hitting the market daily as the rate of change in the food production system really picks up speed. Of course, in this day and age no industry is safe from disruption, and there are new pressures impacting the food industry including mounting consumer concerns about climate change, animal welfare, allergens and nutrition.
Inventive food technologies, designing brand new categories of products, present a challenge for the food regulatory system. Australia’s Ministerial Food Regulation Standing Committee is currently working on an options paper about how food standards for labelling, definitions and other elements need to adapt in order to keep pace. Food Standards Australia New Zealand is also revising the regulation of Nutritive Substances & Novel Foods.
As technology progresses, consumers have vastly greater choice and the regulators are busy. So how do food companies keep up? As the Australian Food & Grocery Council’s Dr Geoffrey Annison writes in Food Australia magazine this month:
“…the food system may be in for a period of major disruption. For food companies, their management of information will be paramount to ensuring compliance with all regulations.”
The industry, via the AFGC, has developed and improved the Product Information Form (PIF) over decades in order to enable accurate and streamlined information exchange about food ingredients along the supply chain, in response to both regulatory and commercial requirements.
The latest version of the PIF, Version 6, harnesses modern information technology so that the food industry can navigate the pace of change, meet evolving consumer demands and keep administrative costs to a minimum.
Key benefits of the online PIF V6 which Dr Annison emphasises are:
- PIF V6 helps companies better organise their valuable data assets and improve workflows around PIF preparation, updates and management
- Clearer and simpler information on country of origin labelling, allergen traceability and GM status treatment
- Product images, certificates of analysis and safety data sheets can all be transmitted electronically with the PIF V6
- Companies only wanting to exchange data about product samples can use a simplified version within PIF V6
- Using business-to-business (B2B) software solutions, PIF V6 streamlines the process of recording and reporting product information via secure online vendor portals, making it easier, faster and more efficient to use
- Companies can share B2B data via a number of methods, most efficiently via portal-to-portal exchange.
“With an emphasis on ease of use, interoperability with other product information systems, and absolute security, the concept of ‘one true source’ of company product data has become a reality.”
With the online PIF V6 purpose-built for today’s food companies, the AFGC is no longer supporting the Excel spreadsheet-based version of the PIF (PIF V5). PIF V5 has not been updated since 2012 and the AFGC recommends it should no longer be used.