Business owners get help with food safety guide

The Institute of Food Science and Technology (IFST) has published a food safety guide for business leaders in the sector.

The group said it hopes to strengthen the placement of food safety on the agenda of every board involved in the production, processing, sale and delivery of food to consumers.

According to the guide, food safety is a business risk that must be effectively mitigated. Done well, it will bring financial efficiency, shareholder value and competitive advantage as well as consumer protection; Done incorrectly, it will negatively impact business resilience and potentially the existence of a business, a scenario that every business wants to mitigate.

Under the Food Safety Act and Food Safety and Hygiene Regulations in the UK, directors and senior managers can be fined and imprisoned for failing to comply with regulations in food security.

Directors are responsible for creating the right environment by engaging in the governance and culture of food safety, the document states.

Failures can be costly, including high levels of waste, lost production time, reduced agility, product destruction, withdrawals, recalls, and associated fines from regulators or retailers. Corporate reactions and responsiveness can translate into improved or damaged reputation during a food safety crisis.

Leading from the top and roles for everyone
Consumer demands for increasing variety, choice and novelty stretch both supply chains and the capacity of those who manage and ensure food safety. Other issues are new sources or types of ingredients, ready-to-eat products, new production technologies, seasonal increase, longer supply chains and environmental challenges.

Chris Gilbert-Wood, Chair of the IFST Scientific Committee, said: “Good food safety governance for any food business operator should be driven from the top of the organization. Leadership in creating the right environment and holding management accountable to implement effective strategies and systems are critical to the successful implementation of an effective food security strategy.

The guidelines include a checklist for administrators and are based on a 2018 publication from New Zealand Food Safety and the Ministry of Primary Industries.

Andy Kerridge, consultant at Wyvern Food Solutions, said: “I can’t think of a role in a food company that doesn’t have responsibility for food safety – from managing director to maintenance engineer, packaging to sourcing, finance to taster – they all have an impact.It is by no means the sole responsibility of one person or team.

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