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Strategies for improving food safety, waste reduction and sustainability

Programs and support are available through Excellence in Manufacturing Consortium

With consumers scrutinizing food costs and supply chains, manufacturers are under pressure to show progress on food safety, waste, and climate issues.

None of these endeavors can be compromised to help improve another, so how are food producers expected to strike a balance? Augmenting core business processes such as training and tracking can significantly impact success in all areas.

Canada’s food & beverage manufacturers have multiple ambitious goals to achieve:

  • Minimize recalls and preserve food safety
  • Lead the way in food waste reduction
  • Advance toward Net Zero

Ensuring Food Safety

Food safety is strictly legislated in Canada. Non-compliance can result not only in fines, but also in negative public opinion. Two key requirements in food safety are training and traceability.

Ensuring that employees at all levels know what needs to be done is an essential step. Tracking food from the supplier to the consumer will demonstrate compliance, identify risks, and minimize the scope of recalls. Improving these core processes is a strategic way to support food safety best practices.

Reducing Food Waste

According to the National Zero Waste Council, more than a third of food produced and distributed in Canada never gets eaten.

Lack of traceability and human error are cited as reasons for food loss and waste by Canadian Manufacturing. Tighter controls and technology-driven solutions are strategies that could help manufacturers reduce food waste. Solid training and tracking processes help form the foundation needed to see improvements.

Advancing Toward Sustainability Goals

Pressure is on Canada’s manufacturers to make the necessary changes required for a green, low-carbon economy. Climate-related disclosure requirements are no longer in the planning stages, they’re here. Federally regulated financial institutions must disclose information about how they are meeting emissions standards starting soon (learn more from the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions). That means manufacturers need to be prepared to submit carbon footprint tracking when requesting insurance coverage and financing.

In the EMC Industry Pulse Survey 2024: Green Manufacturing and Clean Technology Adoption Report, we discovered that a top issue preventing manufacturers from adopting clean technology was unclear measurements and reporting requirements, as well as lack of internal skills and workforce capabilities.

Help is available.

For example, the Golden Design Rules for Plastic Packaging developed by The Consumer Goods Forum’s Plastic Waste Coalition of Action provide a framework to reduce plastic packaging and ease recycling. These rules include increasing value in PET recycling, removing problematic elements from packaging, eliminating excess headspace, and 6 other rules. More information about the Golden Design Rules for Plastics Packaging is available at

Another option to reach sustainability goals could be edible packaging. Whether or not this type of packaging is appropriate will depend on several factors, including shelf life, storage, and shipping. As adoption of sustainable solutions increases, more innovations can be expected.

Reducing waste, ensuring food safety, and increasing sustainability are essential components for successful food production. Efficient, effective business processes including training and traceability are the underpinnings of success. Programs and guidance are available through EMC to help manufacturers adopt best practices and reach their objectives.

If you would like to become more involved in the area of green manufacturing, learn more about EMC's recent initiative - GreenMFG Network.