Why has food safety become such a lottery?

Richard Wilson March 6, 2018

Russell Hume, DB Foods, Fairfax Meadow and Midland Food Services, are all large suppliers for major brands such as Muscle Food, JD Wetherspoons, Nandos & Jamie Oliver Kitchens. What do they all have in common?

Poor supply chain visibility and product recalls with one case leading to liquidation.

Numerous meat processing plants across the UK have been forced to close by the Food Standards Agency  (FSA) after unannounced audits by agency inspectors revealed shocking results. Assessments on multiple sites uncovered problems with how the organizations were applying use-by dates on their products and demonstrating a lack of compliance with UK food hygiene regulations.

Together, these organizations are responsible for dispatching thousands of tonnes of meat a week, to multiple high profile customers. Over the last couple of months, the FSA has discovered that non-conformances are more “serious and widespread” than first thought and investigations are set to continue.

According to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, more than half of the meat processing and cold storage facilities audited in England, Wales and Northern Ireland had major non-compliances with hygiene or food safety regulations in the last three years. The data shows that inspections took place at 890 individual premises and inspectors found that 540 of them, or 60.5% had at least one major breach. Wetherspoons for example, just switched a third of its supply away from Russell Hume to Fairfax Meadows, only to suffer a double disappointment.

“Failure on this scale can’t be attributed to just a few rogue businesses falling through the cracks,” said Kerry McCarthy MP, adding: “Consumers need to have confidence in the system and need to know that action is being taken against companies with incidents of major non-compliance”.

Today, food and beverage organizations are under increased pressure, facing multiple internal and external challenges in this ever-changing environment. Challenges such as price volatility, stronger competition, increasing customer demands, complex supply chains and globalization are all taking their toll. However, this should be no excuse for poor quality or non-existent compliance management.

Sadly, to meet these challenges and maintain high levels of competitiveness, organizations are focusing on profit, leading to the cutting of internal procedures. They are more focused on becoming the biggest brand and quality is becoming second to growth; there is less employee engagement, less concern over ethical procedures and increasing risk, all going unnoticed until disaster strikes.

To maintain compliance with the standards and regulations organizations need to analyze the weaknesses and risks in their supply chain. They need to understand all the parties involved at all levels, from farm to fork. Integrating risk, quality and compliance principles into your supply chain management can be difficult but the risks cannot be underestimated.

AuditComply helps manage regulatory compliance demands and ensures quality for the food and beverage industry, allowing organizations to meet the demands across all levels of the supply chain, in both a cost effective and efficient manner. Quality and safety in food manufacturing is a top priority, ISO, HACCP, BRC, SQF, FSA and IFS processes can all be efficiently and effectively managed with AuditComply.

The risks are high and organizations need to have the right tools in place to manage all aspects of  the supply chain.  The right QMS platform for food and beverage will support all these efforts and more. We focus on eliminating problems before they have a chance to appear.  In today’s ever more complex world, this approach is fundamental for organizations to minimize their compliance issues and lower their risk profile, building back trust and confidence with consumers

For further details on the AuditComply solution or to avail for a free trial please contact us at info@auditcomply.com.

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