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Alleviating Food Recall Madness: Key Methods to Boost Food Safety Measures


By Darryl Lewis

Every year, nearly 1 in 6 Americans suffer a food-borne illness of some kind. Of those afflicted with a food-borne illness, 128,000 will become hospitalized and 3,000 will die. To combat these numbers and make food safer for Americans, the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) was created by Congress and signed into law by President Barack Obama in January 2011. The goal of the legislation was to create the framework for a preventative system rather than a reactionary system that tries to mitigate the problem as quickly and affordably as possible.

Under this legislation, the FDA has the power to force food companies to issue recalls for a variety of reasons, including known contamination with a pathogen like salmonella and E. coli. This is increasingly becoming important as many Americans report food allergies and sensitivities. It also reduces mislabeling of any kind and manufacturing errors. Past food recalls have cost companies an average of $10 million and are potentially devastating to the organization’s persona.

Another area that FSMA addresses that hasn’t previously been proposed in food safety legislation is the role of foreign suppliers in supply chains. Check your food labels the next time you go to the grocery store. You may be surprised to learn that 15 percent of all food in this country is imported. The food or ingredients produced in other countries may not have the same quality standards that are outlined in ours. Here are some actions that food companies should take to address this vital area, as well as other measures, to increase product safety for their consumers.

Adhere to the Foreign Supplier Verification Program

The FDA requires importers to perform risk-based foreign supplier verification activities, including request for certification, risk assessments, and audits to verify that food or food ingredients manufactured outside of the U.S. are as safe as food manufactured in the U.S.

This will help ensure compliance and transparency across the supply chain. Under this program, additional accountability is placed on the importer to make sure they have the necessary preventative controls in effect. If they are not in place, it is up to the importer to request and enforce compliance in order to avoid penalties and recalls. By following these steps, importers and their respective food companies will enhance product quality.

Collaborate with an international food-safety organization

It is the primary goal of many food safety organizations to protect the welfare of consumers. Therefore, it makes sense for food production companies to work closely with these organizations to create safer products. The Global Food Safety Initiative provides a platform for promoting safer supply chains for organizations and strengthening consumer trust.

Through a rigorous benchmarking process formed by food industry leaders, it establishes the best food safety schemes for companies to follow. These schemes are certified by a third party audit. Participating in this process is a pivotal step food companies looking to maximize their food safety policies.

Invest in a quality management system that ensures supplier quality evaluation

Food quality management software can help boost food safety measures by significantly reducing the risk of food recalls through automation. In addition to automating quality management processes, it increases the visibility of those processes across the supply chain. The software allows for real-time reporting of any adverse effects and has supplier quality features like supplier documents control, supplier risk assessments and audits, supplier onboarding, and supplier scorecards. These tools can help a company find the right supplier and keep everyone on the same page when and if a quality event occurs.

Ultimately, food companies must be able to deliver a safe product to their customers. This has become more complicated as food supply chains have grown. There is more room for error than ever before, which can be scary given the fact that people do die from foodborne illnesses each year.

Therefore, organizations must be able to ensure that all of their partners and suppliers are compliant with the FSMA and other regulations and standards that have been implemented to prevent adverse events from occurring. The aforementioned tips above can go a long way in helping food companies maintain the quality and safety of their products – wherever they come from.

Image credit: Pixabay/kpgolfpro 

Darryl Lewis is a digital marketing and a fine/performing arts enthusiast. His concern about social and environmental issues is unwavering, always seeking opportunities to create a positive impact on the people in his community and the world. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Marketing from Stockton University. Follow him on Twitter @dlew4life 

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