By: Sussy Kraus, Food Safety Consultant with the Focus Group, PCQI - Preventive Control Qualified Individual, CCFS - Certified in Food Safety, HACCP Lead Trainer
Food manufacturers have always been careful with the quality and safety of the food they produce - simply because it is ethical, and anything other than that wouldn’t fly with consumers. But now, more than ever, food safety is a topic at the forefront of the food industry. Supplying food from the farm or fishery to the table is quite a complex procedure. The “Food Supply Chain” deals with many necessary steps, going from the raw agricultural commodity, down to the supermarket shelf, caterer or restaurant. Every step of the supply chain requires human or natural resources, which can introduce different potential hazards and risks of contamination. Since the food chain moves systematically in a domino-like motion, when a part of the supply chain is affected, the whole chain is affected, potentially resulting in food poisoning outbreaks. What changed now? New government regulations, consumer demands, social media and the increased complexity of the food supply chain have engendered a newfound awareness in food safety.
Bad Conditions Spurs Governments Regulations
A Government-regulated food industry is not a new phenomenon. Early 1900’s... In the early 1900's, the horrendous conditions in the meat-packing industry led to two new acts being passed by President Theodore Roosevelt. The Pure Food and Drug Act and the Federal Meat Inspection Act were the first US laws that addressed the safety of the public food supply. Many similar acts followed that monitored food additives, chemicals, and food packaging labels. 1969... It was only in 1969 that the FDA started controlling sanitation programs in the workplace. 1973... In 1973, a food poisoning outbreak from canned mushrooms led to the first food recall in the United States. 75 million cans of mushrooms were removed from store shelves. This caused the government to pass regulations on low-acid canned food processing. 1993... In 1993, the famous “Jack in the Box” E. coli outbreak infected over 700 people. This led to the implementation of a new food safety concept, originally created for NASA’s astronauts, to keep food safe. 1997... Hence, in 1997, HACCP was implemented for the meat and seafood industry. The juice industry followed, after a large outbreak of foodborne illness attributed to apple juice. 2011-Present... Up to this point, food safety measures were implemented as a result of a reaction to major crises in the food industry. In 2011, the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) - considered the most significant food safety legislation in history - was signed into law. This act focused on PREVENTION rather than REACTION.
A Consumer Driven Market Consumers are increasingly taking an interest in the quality and health benefits of the foods they eat. Therefore, today, it is the consumers who are driving manufacturer efforts for cleaner, safer food. With the expanded media coverage, open social forums and the many different avenues of information, the consumer now has an even bigger input on food safety. Ratings and customer complaints are now public knowledge. A positive image has a big effect on the bottom line.
The Supply Chain: Food Safety, Farm to Table
Today's supply chain is more complex than ever before. Lots of foods are sourced from foreign countries and are acquired by the consumer through many different venues like traditional groceries, club stores, convenience stores, home delivery and internet buying. Keeping food safe at each and every step in the supply chain, from the farm to the table, is a complicated process. This is where many of the compromises can happen. The goal of the food supply chain is to deliver safe food in a timely fashion to maximize customer service and maintain business growth. All these steps in the supply chain that impact food safety go hand in hand with the bottom line.
Focus group has worked with Dependable Food Corp. to implement a rigorous food safety program in compliance with regulatory and industry standards. They maintain a high standard in food safety to protect their link in the food chain with an annual 3rd party audit ensuring the adequacy and effectiveness of the food safety and the quality of their system. Dependable Food Corp aims for continuous improvements and to exceed their customer expectations.
Questions? Email Sussy@focussgroup.com
Look for our next issue where we’ll take a deeper look into each of the food supply chain steps.