The food and beverage industry continues to evolve at an increasingly rapid pace.New government regulations, along with expectations from consumers and stakeholders, compel food manufacturers, restaurants, and grocery retailers (referredto throughout as food companies, companies, or organisations) to sharpen their focus on food safety. These realities create an increased awareness of and sensitivity to food borne illnesses and recalls.Meanwhile, many companies struggle to fully understand food safety risks presented by new and innovative—yet sometimes disruptive—operating models, and how to mitigate these potentially unfamiliar risks.
The structure and management of food safety programs at food and beverage manufacturers, restaurants, and grocery retailers need to transform to navigate today’s food safety landscape.Companies can no longer rely on a single function to own quality and food safety because, simply put, food safety is an enterprise-level risk. They need to embrace the scientific, operational, and consumer perspectives of food safety if they want to identify and mitigate the myriad risks facing their organisation. This paper describes how companies can embrace food safety as an enterprise-level operational risk and the key components needed in a food safety program.
Risk & Compliance
Operational risk based food safety program Organizations should include four key components to develop and implement an enterprise-level operational food safety risk management program
Enterprise compliance management. A risk and compliance program for food companies assesses the company’s performance against regulatory requirements and internal standards. It should align with the company’s enterprise compliance management program, which includes identifying, assessing, and mitigating compliance risk. When identifying potential risks for the company, it’s important to look across several factors to gain a holistic perspective on the state of food safety compliance. Figure 2 discusses the factors that should be assessed and how they relate to food safety compliance. The diagram illustrates that the food safety culture of the company is the central point for a food safety compliance program.
Supplier and service provider risk management. A supplier and service provider risk management program is a foundational component for a food safety program.Suppliers and distributors provide a company with the inputs needed to produce the product and the means to send products to consumers or customers.Along the supply chain, there are many opportunities for food safety risks to occur. A supplier and service provider risk management program is needed to help identify and mitigate risks that may occur from suppliers or distributors. Figure 3below highlights the five primary stages that should be included to mitigate those risks. As mentioned in the compliance framework, a supplier management program needs a foundation of food safety culture and governance.
Process Controls & Analytics
Food safety process controls Food safety process controls must be in place at the operational level to ensure that the food being produced meets regulatory and organisational requirements and is safe for consumers. These controls are identified after a hazard analysis has been completed by the company to identify and assess the food safety risks associated with the specific ingredients used and the processes in which their food is prepared. Examples of food safety process controls are thermal processing with prescribed cook time and temperature, foreign material identification, employee hygiene practices, product traceability, and allergen labeling and storage requirements. Once controls are established there needs to be management oversight to verify that controls are being performed and are effective to mitigate the risks.
Management can consider using technology to provide them with near real time visibility of risks and control effectiveness through AI dashboards and analytics. Analytics is the fourth component needed in an enterprise-level food safety program. Analytics bring data to life for company executives. It provides quantitative results that show how each of the other food safety components—compliance, supplier and service provider risk management, and food safety process controls—are performing across the organisation. Analytics can provide insight into an organisation’s food safety program across several risk domains to help executives make real-time decisions using unbiased and quantified information.