In light of recent large-scale recalls, renewed momentum for passage of the FDA Food Modernization Act and the need for processors to be more engaged in total product lifecycle management, the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) created an industry forum and working group called UpStream to address critical issues faced by food and beverage manufacturers.

According to Dennis Belcastro, GMA’s executive vice president of industry affairs and membership services, “From consumers to raw materials suppliers, each gate of the supply chain exerts additional pressure upstream for safe, high quality and environmentally-friendly food, beverage and consumer products.” Vice presidents, directors and managers of manufacturing, engineering, operations, supply chain, food safety, environment, health and safety, and sustainability from GMA member food companies such as Coca-Cola, Diamond Foods, Del Monte, Hershey, Kellogg’s , Keystone Foods, Kraft, McCormick and more are participating in product safety, sustainability and operational reliability work groups along with industry suppliers.

The advantages of participation, says Belcastro, include enhancing the “seat at the table” and the “voice” of upstream manufacturing, engineering and operations professionals in critical, total product lifecycle management discussions; improved quality assurance from suppliers through better communication and understanding of manufacturers’ expectations; improved manufacturing flexibility and reliability through innovation; and improved innovation and sharing best practices.

Within the three UpStream groups, six projects are underway: guidelines for validation of thermal process kill steps in low-moisture foods; methodology for communicating current and emerging food safety information throughout the manufacturing and upstream supply community; sustainability reporting guidelines for production variability; sustainability reporting guidelines for the upstream supply community; core tools for measurement and analytics for improved operational reliability; and education for manufacturing personnel in essential skill areas of technical, operations and communications.

For more information, contact Jill Johnson at 202-295-3961 or jjohnson@