As everyone completing vulnerability assessments as part of BRC 7 will know, it must be reviewed at least annually or when there is a significant change to the raw material.
So what constitutes a significant change to the raw material?
New raw materials being considered for purchase
This sounds obvious, but food businesses are getting caught out on this with NPD teams charging off and bringing in new ingredients as part of their hectic NPD lives without considering vulnerability.
It is important for NPD to talk to technical teams and get some supplier self assessments completed and some basic raw material specifications checked to avoid non-conformances.
A change in the country of origin or the supplier of raw materials
It is so easy when getting updated raw material specifications from suppliers to overlook a change of country of origin, particularly for the sub in-ingredients within the raw material that you are sourcing.
You need to check this information carefully, or if you are using the QADEX raw material specifications module this module will alert you automatically to any changes.
Information received as part of supplier approval or raw material risk assessment which highlights a new or evolving risk
We recommend that you consider upgrading your supplier self assessments and raw material specifications to capture more information about your raw materials supply chain so that you can understand it better and monitor changes over time.
But it is also worth asking your suppliers to tell you what the vulnerabilities are in the supply chain as they are much more likely to know the risks in their category and responsible suppliers will tell you what the risks are and steps they are taking to mitigate these risks.
A change in the financial situation of the raw material supplier
Who is currently monitoring the financial situation of their suppliers as part of supply chain risk management? Yet a deterioration in the financial situation of a supplier could put management under pressure to cut corners, or a substantial improvement to levels of profitability ahead of their category could also be an indicator or red flag.
A change in the financial situation of the country of origin
How could this change the risk within a supply chain?
If the country that you are sourcing from gets into financial difficulty, this can impact the ability of companies in your supply chain to access credit, create a fertile environment for widespread fraud or corruption and generally destabilise day to day business within your supply chain.
A change in the cost of raw materials, either upwards or downwards
If prices are rising or falling substantially for a raw material you need to understand what the underlying reasons are and then question if these reasons increase or reduce the risk of adulteration or substitution. You do need to be careful here and consider all of the impacts carefully as some may not be obvious.
For example, if the price of a raw material drops substantially due to good harvests there could be a tendency for producers to store crops rather than sell them resulting in risks from inappropriate storage conditions or crops being stored for too long.
A change in the supply chain, logistics and delivery of materials
Would you know if your supplier made changes in the supply chain or logistics used to get your materials from origin to your site?
If not, you are exposed to changes that you are not aware of introducing risks that you have not assessed.
A change in the availability of the material
This is similar to the change in costs discussion above in that a change in availability of raw materials should feed through into a change in costs.
Emergence of a new risk
This relates to the publication of information relating to the adulteration of an ingredient. You should pick this information up from sources such as trade associations and RASFF.
Developments in scientific information associated with ingredients, process or product
This is quite a challenging one as you may not have access to information sources to inform you of these developments across all the raw materials sourced by your business. Membership of organisations such as Campden & Leatherhead should help here.
There you have it, 10 events which could trigger a review of your vulnerability assessment for a food raw material.
Trying to manage vulnerability assessments and all of this data using manual documents on Excel, Word and various emails is becoming increasingly difficult and risky.
Get it wrong and implications could range from audit non-conformance, through product recall and into your business being accused and publicly tried by a frenzied media as a food fraudster.
Thankfully QADEX have the solution with a market leading range of modules covering supplier approval management, supplier accreditation management, raw material specifications and about to be complemented by the release of our ground breaking vulnerability assessment module which will join all the dots.
To find out more about how these modules can reduce risk and costs in your food business give us a shout.