It is slowly becoming obvious that food safety and sustainability are moving closer, towards an imminent head-on collision.
We are seeing overstretched technical teams responsible for supplier auditing and food safety, being given the additional responsibility of managing sustainability within their supply chains. This has been driven recently by retailers suddenly requesting sustainability information from their own label suppliers. You will also notice this on raw material specifications which are now being used to gather sustainability information.
It began in 2010
An article published back in 2010, by Wall Street Journal titled “Green Revolution in India Wilts as Subsidies Backfire” highlighted this trend at the time, discussing how the Indian Government subsidies of urea for their Farmers has resulted in the overuse of urea, leading to degradation of their soil fertility. However, the article failed to raise any potential food safety issues from excessive use of urea. (Click here to Read the article in full)
In 2015, an article by The Times of India suggested that a “New urea policy could lead to its excessive use, impact human health”. This article again mentions the risk of excessive urea usage which could hinder sustainability as soil becomes degraded; but this time, the potential impact on human health was also mentioned. Something which food safety teams may have to deal with, and a further indicator that food safety and sustainability are converging.
The situation had not been resolved according to an article in February 2016, In an article by dnaindia, who reported that subsidising urea is now feeding a large black market. Reportedly a shocking 100% of farmers from states bordering Bangladesh are now forced to buy urea on the black market. Again, we hear of farmer’s struggling with sustainability due to subsidising urea with the potential health and traceability issues this brings, with no knowledge of exactly what is in the black-market urea and where it came from.
The Importance of Supplier Auditing
Supplier Auditing plays an important role in helping to find potential food safety and sustainability issues before it becomes too late. Following an efficient supplier audit, you may discover that some of your suppliers are sourcing their materials from a country, or area which is experiencing: food safety issues, fraud or use of unsustainable methods. (such as the ones mentioned above).
This means that is it now possible to identify much sooner, food safety and sustainability issues that could have a negative effect on you in the future. This will allow you plenty of time to put effective systems in place to prevent the possibility of a negative impact.
How has Supplier Auditing, Food Safety and Sustainability converged in your sector? And is it set to continue? Is it the elephant already in the room in your business? Or have you failed to notice it, quietly sitting in a dark corner?