As the news surrounding the horse and pig meat found in beef products continues we look at some lessons for the future:
We all need to await for the outcome of the Food Standards Agency and Police investigation before jumping to any specific conclusions or laying blame of course but there are some key controls that should have prevented this issue
- Managing the supply chain – this means understanding the food safety and traceability practices of your suppliers. Provision by the supplier of a Food Safety certificate, such as a BRC certificate, is a good first step but is it enough? Well audits by the certification bodies are by definition a spot check, a sample if you will, of records and practices observed at the time of audit. It is quite possible, for instance if there are criminal intentions, to dress things up to pass an audit, just as there would be for any criminal activity in any regulated industry. Perhaps we may see a move towards mandatory unannounced audit, a scheme which is currently voluntary in Issue 6 of the BRC Global Food Safety Standard.
- Go and see for yourself. This means conducting an onsite audit yourself, inspecting site standards, product and paper-work trails. It does require some experience in auditing and what to look for, otherwise it could be a wasted day or two. Again this could be announced or unannounced – the potential disadvantage with unannounced is that the people you might want to see aren’t there. But perhaps you could agree on an audit window of say 1 month.
- Insist on regular, auditable traceability records to demonstrate that what your supplier bought and what you received as processed by them, is what you expect! The disadvantage is the potential for a lot of paperwork and time (and cost) across the industry.
- A tightening up of inspections by the authorities (local authority and even the Food Standards Agency themselves) but this will be at a national cost.
- Dare I say it?! A move by the public themselves away from the notion that everything in the trolley should cost as little as humanly possible. Deep down we all know that can’t be healthy for us, or the supply chain.
If you need any help or advice on this issue, or how to audit suppliers, or you’d like us as expert auditors to do it for you, then call us now.
For now you can keep up to date with the news as it unfolds http://www.food.gov.uk/