Food industry issues in the media

High season for conferences & webinars to discuss

In the past week or two I have noticed a host of events/seminars/workshops being advertised purporting to discuss learnings from horsegate.
I worry that food safety risk assessment is going to knee jerk towards supplier auditing and store auditing programs designed to provide brand protection against the the current?known risk, ie horsemeat.
This could result in the classic example of closing the stable door after the horse has bolted, and in the process reduce attention and focus on other food safety risks.
Whilst there may be lessons to be learnt, we need to learn them in?balanced fashion and not over-react is response to the media over-reaction. The media circus has moved on, but food safety professionals are left to pick up the pieces and contemplate the impact of horsegate on their supplier approval procedure.
We need to be careful not to lose sight of some underlying principles.
We should always start with a detailed supplier risk assessment which takes account of raw material risk. To do these we have a number of tools in the toolbox including food safety questionnaires / supplier self audit?/?SSAQ’s / supplier accreditation reviews/ raw material specifications /supplier auditing.
Which tools we use and how we use them will vary from business to business.
What is key is that we have completed a robust risk assessement and we then follow a clearly documented program, ALWAYS.
Why ALWAYS, well the hard reality in my experience is that the best laid supplier approval & supply chain risk assessment?plans often fall apart gradually once we start to implement them in the cold harsh light of day to day food business operations.
What we need to do is not that difficult to figure out, the reality is that there are lots of factors at play that get in the way of a robust supplier management program. Typical problems include:

  • Lack of resources
  • Suppliers who have something to hide and therefore drag their heels providing information
  • Manual and paper based systems that are not conducive to efficiency
  • The constant rate of change in most food businesses
  • Lack of senior business management commitment

The one lesson I would advise you to take away from all the likely conferences & webinars is that recent developments should result in a more focussed senior management commitment to supplier approval management.
Grasp the opportunity and enable a step change improvement in supplier approval management at your business.