Have you ever thought about where the information on a food label comes from? What about who helps to regulates our food to help keep us safe? These questions can be answered by professionals known as Regulatory Specialists and today FoodGrads is exploring this important career!
Regulatory Specialists help to regulate food
Regulatory Specialists are:
“responsible for helping to support company regulatory initiatives and regulatory compliance relating to new and existing products. They provide updates to others teams (QA, Marketing,R&D and Sales) surrounding existing and future legislation that could affect new and existing product line development. Furthermore, they are responsible for providing excellent customer service and maintaining positive business relationships with both internal and external customers and/ or vendors. Finally, they assist in the development of food labels that will be used on products.
Overall, regulatory affairs specialists are the individuals responsible for ensuring that food adheres to regulatory standards. For example, a regulatory affairs specialist working with peanut butter understands that that in Canada according to Consumer Packaging and Labelling Regulations peanut butter may only be sold in a container of 250, 375, 500 or 750 g, or 1, 1.5 or 2 kg.
Regulatory Specialists are knowledgeable about regulations
Regulatory specialists are knowledgeable about new and current regulations, regulatory activity and relevant technical product and processing information. These professionals have a wealth of knowledge because food is more regulated than you think.
Different countries have different regulations, and these are constantly being updated. If companies do not correctly adhere to regulatory standards this could mean expensive fines or even worse the company being shut down!
Regulatory Specialists communicate
Packaged food is composed of a lot of different ingredients, each of which have their own regulations. Regulatory specialists are constantly talking with ingredient suppliers to ensure they have all the information necessary to make informed decisions.
Furthermore, they communicate with suppliers so that they can trace ingredients through the supply chain in case problems occur.
For example, a company might observe the cake they are baking is not rising properly. By knowing the batch information (etc. SKU) they can contact the supplier and identify an ingredient processing error.
Regulatory Specials have scientific educational backgrounds
Typically, regulatory affairs specialists have bachelor’s degrees in scientific disciplines such as Chemistry, Biology, Food Science or Nutrition. These degrees prepare students for the broad range of responsibilities needed to understand the food manufacturing process.
Students who enter regulatory affairs may also possess a master’s degree. Master’s degrees provide both theory and practical training- something a bachelor’s degree in basic sciences lacks. In the United States, Northeastern University offers a Master in Science in Regulatory Affairs of Food and Food Industries.
Alternatively, some colleges also offer shorter degrees such as Algonquin College which offer a one-year Regulatory Affairs- Sciences degree
Regulatory Specialists are knowledge about product formulations
Research and Development professionals are not the only ones who know consult on product formulations. Regulatory specialists know everything about a product even before it goes to a plant trial. For example, a company may be looking to have a product list low sugar on their label.
Well regulatory affairs specialists know exactly how much sugar can be allocated in a recipe. They are also able to provide suggestions to R&D as avoid ingredients which are not “clean label.”
Regulatory Specialists are responsible for developing labels
In many companies it is up to regulatory specialist to develop food labels for their products. They are responsible for reviewing/developing ingredient statements, allergen statements and nutritional fact panels. During the label development process, they create and define workflows for label review, product review and sign-off processes needed by the required business teams.
Regulatory Specialists are highly organized
Being a regulatory specialist is a demanding job as they are responsible for looking at a slew of different products. If the FDA is looking to know more information on a certain product they should be able to provide the information instantly. Regulatory Specialists need to be organized so that they do not become overwhelmed in their jobs and can track/follow up on related documentation.
Regulatory Affairs Associates have these sets of skills
- Dependability- In smaller companies it is likely that there are only one or two individuals in this profession. Furthermore, they possess the most amount of knowledge on regulations. The company needs to be able to depend on these individuals to know that their products will meet every regulation
- Adaptability– New regulations are always being created and formulations change quickly. Regulatory specialists need to thrive in a variety of environments, responsibilities and people.
- Systematic thinking- Regulatory specialists need to understand how things influence one another as a whole. Ability to manage inter-connections in a way that creates better processes. In doing so when problems occur they can deal with them fast.
Author: Veronica Hislop – Veronica is a Chemistry student studying at Ryerson University and loves looking at the science in the kitchen. She is currently on a path to find her place in the food manufacturing industry. When Veronica is taking a break from her food endeavors you will find her at home reading a great novel and playing with her cats.
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