Risk assessment must adapt to rise in global sourcing

Related tags Food safety Campden bri Food Supply chain

Manufacturers need to improve their assessment procedures to quantify the level of risk involved as they source more ingredients from around the globe, a food safety expert has warned.

Sue Emond, a food safety specialist at Campden BRI has called on the industry to adopt a more comprehensive, logical and structured approach to risk assessment, rather than relying on an "ad hoc approach", which tends to be driven by third-party food safety scheme requirements.

"To date there has been no single point of reference for food manufacturers seeking to accurately assess the risk of using particular materials,"​ said Emond.

Emond has developed a framework of guidelines to help firms, which offer specific advice and procedures on the application of risk assessment techniques to identify, evaluate and control potential hazards associated with raw materials in food and drink. The guidance is available to members of Campden BRI priced £60 (£90 for non-members).

It helps users pinpoint potential issues and hazards with materials coming from different countries and suppliers and assesses their probable severity to determine where to implement safety procedures. It includes 'horizon scanning' recommendations to assess possible issues, threats and concerns for manufacturers.

"Hopefully, it will allow people to understand their raw materials and suppliers more,"​ she added. The guidance is intentionally not aimed at any one specific sector of the industry and is being used by companies involved in everything from fresh produce, to chilled food manufacture and bakery.

Meanwhile, the Society of Food Hygiene and Technology (SOFHT) has called for a change to EU traceability legislation, claiming that the 'one-up, one-forward' requirements on ingredients and products contained in European Regulation 178/2002 are insufficient.

Because of increasing concern about issues such as allergens; genetically modified organisms; and country of origin, better traceability is required, said SOFHT chairman Simon Houghton-Dodd. "General food law regulation is now not going far enough,"​ he said.

His view is shared by former SOFHT chairman and food safety regulation expert Neil Griffiths. Griffiths believes the legislation needs to be extended specifically to help smaller businesses deal with animal disease outbreaks.

But Stephen Whyte, business development manager for supply chain systems specialist Qadex is opposed to any further controls, arguing instead for greater self-regulation."178/2002 could be seen as a minimum threshold for everyone to comply with and let brand owners or standard owners raise the bar further when appropriate,"​ he said.

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