Nestlé's Supply Chain Scare Calls for a More Robust QMS

Richard Wilson October 1, 2019

Nestle is currently in the process of tightening their quality controls on the coffee it buys from suppliers. This comes after quality tests flagged high levels of the weedkiller, glyphosate, in a batch of beans from a supplier.

The world’s largest coffee company said in a statement on Friday that it had found glyphosate residues close to the maximum allowed in the deliveries of green coffee beans. This finding has led to an increase in quality testing requirements on all beans being distributed to factories throughout Europe, Australia and Malaysia. The company says the new measures “should be temporary” but they have the potential to complicate global coffee trade flows. This news has come at a time when countries are increasing their efforts to prohibit the use of glyphosate, a chemical currently used in Roundup weedkiller. Switzerland-based Nestle said in a statement “we are reinforcing our controls, working with suppliers to ensure that our green coffee continues to meet regulations all around the world.”

While Nestlé were very fortunate in the fact that their current QMS (Quality Management System) was able to catch such an issue before deliveries were distributed to consumers, the contaminated beans should never have left the supplier. Of course, this incident brings back memories of the EU chicken eggs that were illegally contaminated with the insecticide Fipronil, the Belgian scare involving dioxin contamination of animal feed in 1999; the 2005 Sudan 1/Para Red dye incidents and of course, the 2013 ‘Horsegate’ scandal.

Food & Beverage Supply Chain Managers are still losing sleep over their disconnected, complex supply chains. Whether it’s trying to maintain compliance with industry regulations and standards across multiple locations or maybe it’s a key supplier failing a FEPA audit. Maybe it’s even the unfortunate circumstance above, an example that has hurt both the suppliers’ and Nestle’s reputations. Whatever it may be, we know that with global trade increasing, the challenges of maintaining quality and compliance is getting tougher. With this, traceability is becoming an increasingly important aspect of supply chain quality management which means organizations need to extend beyond the current ‘one-up, one down’ requirements.

It’s important to note, the contaminated coffee beans were already distributed to multiple locations across the globe, which signals there was still a lack of robust quality processes somewhere within the food supply chain. This demonstrates the need to build on those processes further with the raising of risk assessment and risk management initiatives; that is if Nestle and other food manufacturers are going to meet the new economic, technological and sociological challenges.

AuditComply is helping organizations like Nestle meet these new challenges, helping drive transformational change across food supply chains; from farm to fork. Our Enterprise Risk Management platform will ensure your supply chain is fully certified to supply you and behave in accordance with your quality initiatives. With access to real-time data, powerful reporting tools and a smart asset management function, Supply Chain managers can gain real-time and vital insight into performance by asset, product, process, site/department, region or country. Helping you maximize the value of supplier relationships, building trust with key stakeholders whilst safeguarding your brand reputation.

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