When it comes to food safety and quality processes there are many factors to consider. This blog will look at a few of those factors in the context of producing results that can accelerate innovation and create sustainable and more consumer-centric products in the process.
The purpose of having strong and stable systems in place surrounding food safety is so that businesses can operate efficiently and effectively in the knowledge that their processes lead to a decreased level of vulnerability in terms of public health scares or scandals, and audits, for example. Public health should always be the number one area of focus and importance for any food business owner.
Let’s take a look at some of the main areas within an organisation where food and health industry business and brand owners can adopt better food safety practices.
Over the past couple of decades, food safety has been moving more towards the forefront of the food industry, and rightfully so. The Food Safety Modernization Act brought into law by President Obama in 2011 was a stepping stone to creating more discussions and solutions surrounding the prevention of food-related illnesses. The Act mentions a food safety plan which includes controls to prevent food safety hazards as well as a food defence plan to address product tampering.
The latter includes measures to prevent intentional adulteration, such as food fraud, something which I mentioned earlier this week in a post discussing the ingredient, Ashwagandha. The ingredient is one that can be harmful if used in an adulterated state which is why prevention processes and systems to avoid this situation occurring is so important.
With that in mind, as business owners in converging markets, how can we stay vigilant when developing and manufacturing products in this new and modern world with consumers whose expectations and needs are evolving daily?
I think this is best broken into four elements: food quality, fraud, safety and defence. Let’s take a deeper dive into each one:
A general definition of food quality is creating food products that are safe, nutritious, and available in continuous supply. The quality of our food encompasses many elements and considers the texture, taste, and ingredients and systems used in the product development process. The goal of most brands nowadays should be to create products that are high-quality at the most affordable price. Of course, there will always be higher-priced goods but our overall aim should be to allow all consumers access to good quality products.
Food fraud can be easily prevented by considering the main areas of operation where incidents and issues can occur before they happen. Some examples of these areas can include, but are not limited to:
- supply chain
- audit strategy
- supplier relationship management
- history of regulatory quality
- quality assurance or quality control
- testing frequency
Food defense is the effort to protect food from acts of intentional adulteration, according to the FDA, who also have plenty of tools and strategies on their website to help combat this issue.
Food Safety as a whole looks at the mitigation of unintentional, accidental adulteration of food products. When Covid happened this year, it encouraged businesses worldwide to look at their food safety and quality systems and revamp or upgrade them where necessary. Below is an example of some tasks on the safety and quality checklist of some businesses in the food industry this year:
- As a minimum, it is expected that businesses consider the impact of staff availability with contingency plans in place. They shall have updated their screening processes for staff and have a policy in place for staff members who may have been exposed to Covid 19.
- The business shall have considered requirements for additional or increased cleaning and where appropriate hand washing.
- The business shall have defined minimum criteria for cleaning and product quality management where the optimum activities have needed to be adjusted due to staff shortages.
- Businesses shall have contingency plans in place for ingredient supply that may be affected.
- The business has a clear policy on access to the business and the impact on any service provision changes eg maintenance and pest control, to ensure the continued production of safe products.
- The Certification Body would be expected to sample evidence of an appropriate management meeting discussion/actions as well as the documented policies.
Why should we be so concerned about food safety and quality?
There are so many reasons but I’ll mention a few of them here. First of all, by having a strong safety system internally and with external partners along your supply chain, you are creating a powerful competitive advantage by:
- Strengthening your brand image.
- Protecting public health.
- Better traceability.
- Building consumers’ trust and increasing loyalty.
- Complying with mandatory regulatory requirements.
- Increasing agility: early detection and dispel of safety concerns.
Do you think you might need to look at or update your food safety systems and want to know where to start?
iNewtrition regularly works with companies in this area and here are a few of the main areas we can help you improve upon:
- Material sourcing questionnaire and declarations
- Documentation and certificate of suitability.
- Site technical visits to assess manufacturing conditions, traceability and prevention of contamination
- Identify predetermined quality standards to be used
- Supports Safety and Quality Initiatives
- Reveal business process and inadequacies
- Risk assessment and analysis to reduce risk of devastating event
- Systematic approach towards sourcing, qualification, risk analysis of ingredients, periodic testing of materials and packaging. Data review.
Reach out to me (Raphaelle) through either of the contact options below if you would like to begin your food safety and quality assessment.
iNewtrition is an Innovation as a Service (IaaS) agency for the food & beverage, and health & wellness industries. We provide agile customer solutions, end-to-end support, or can simply help you overcome specific bottlenecks to fast track innovation and product development. The services and expertise we offer are on-demand and available to you instantly via our online booking platform. Our skills combined cover every step of your innovation journey, from feasibility study, product design or development, to post-launch scale-up. Contact Raphaelle at [email protected] to start your journey.