ANAHEIM, Calif., USA, 27th February 2014 –
The Consumer Goods Forum’s (CGF) Global Food Safety Conference
continued today with another full programme of speakers from the world of food safety. The day started early with a set of energizing Breakfast Sessions designed by the conference sponsors Sealed Air Diversey, DNV GL, LRQA and Trace One. The following plenary and breakout sessions took delegates on a deep dive into risk assessment, food fraud and global supply chain best practices.
Risk Assessments: the Basics
Marcos X. Sanchez-Plata, Food Safety Specialist, Agricultural Health and Food Safety Program, Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture, IICA
Marcos works with small, medium and large businesses across all countries in North and South America. He started the second day of the conference with a comprehensive description of the basics of risk assessment. The aim is to control risk from the start to finish of the supply chain using risk assessment to incorporate processes for mitigation strategies. The approach is a blend of qualitative and quantitative approaches. Both have their place but their relative strengths and weaknesses need to be recognised. Qualitative will be less robust, more implicit and subjective with less data, fewer resources and narrow scope. A quantitative approach provides the opposite.
Using Risk Assessment to Design Effective Intervention: “Case study: Listeria and Deli Meat”
Martin Wiedmann, Professor and Director of Graduate Studies, Department of Food Science, College of Agriculture and Life Science, Cornell University, USA
Martin shared his research on using risk assessment to design effective intervention for Listeria monocytogenes contamination in deli meats. He described a challenge that is relevant across the food chain, not just in processing facilities. He told delegates that the presence of the pathogen is common in both factories and stores. Risk assessments and growth modelling data suggest the reformulation of RTE deli meats represents the most effective intervention. He ended with some notes of caution and advised that risk assessments should not be trusted too much because many aspects of the complexity of food systems are difficult to model.
Sara Mortimore, Vice President, Product Safety, Quality Assurance & Regulatory Affairs, Land O’Lakes, Inc., USA
Robert L. Buchanan, Director and Professor, Center for Food Safety and Security Systems, University of Maryland, USA
In Sara Mortimore and Robert Buchanan’s joint presentation about re-thinking HACCP, Mortimore started by asking what if we had no HACCP? Would we have our preventative mind set with a global language and as safe a food supply as we have achieved? She said that codification and adoption by regulators and standards owners has speeded up the use of HACCP on a global scale but has probably hindered the continued development of the concept. The challenges we now face include poorly implemented systems that don’t anticipate failure within a culture of ignorance, arrogance or complacency. Food safety management requires a rock solid interdependency between HACCP, PRPs and organization culture.
Buchanan said that the elimination of risk is an illusion. HACCP tends to focus on elimination though it wasn’t designed for that. The identification of hazards, control points, the establishment of limits and the subsequent monitoring and verification isn’t enough. He said that too many people think HACCP is distinct from risk assessment and identified two risk types: the risk of compliance and the residual risk associated with the product even when the system is under control. That’s where stringency is needed. He concluded by saying that HACCP needs to evolve through bold thinking and courageous leadership. He called for all to learn from the past and not to be afraid of change.
Innovative Preventive Control and Verifications
John Holah, Business Development Project Manager – Hygiene, Campden BRI, UK
Joe Stout, General Manager, Commercial Food Sanitation, USA
Ken Davenport, Product Development Manager, Pathogen Solutions Laboratory, 3M Food Safety Department, USA
HACCP has been the focus of most food safety systems for nearly 50 years. For that time we have been heavily focused on control of food processing processes. Although HACCP is a very effective tool to control food processes, it is clearly not adequate on its own to prevent food borne illness.
None of the major outbreaks over recent years have been linked to HACCP failures. Outbreaks are largely linked to failures of prerequisite programs (PRPs). Holah explored the idea of using the tools and systems of HACCP to identify and control those prerequisite programs whose failure represent significant risk.
Joe Stout gave examples of good and poor design and how hygienic design of equipment plays a role in cleaning and sanitation and safe food. Good hygienic design is not an accident, it takes intentional effort and time. Hygienic design includes providing the tools to do the job right.
Dr. Davenport spoke about ways to do quick and effective testing of cleaning programs. ATP can give immediate information about cleaning performance. He discussed the mechanisms of ATP testing and the importance of reproducibility in the results. Dr. Davenport also covered the importance of developing sampling plans and establishing pass fail criteria for your specific operations.
Preventing Fraud in Your Food
Petra Wissenburg, Corporate Quality Projects Director, Danone, Singapore
Michèle Lees, Director Collaborative Research at Eurofins Analytics, France
Jeff Moore, Senior Scientific Liaison, United States Pharmacopeia, USA
This breakout session provided delegates with the latest developments on preventing food fraud. Wissenburg has been leading the work of the Food Fraud Think Tank and told delegates that they learnt early on that to understand how to control food fraud you need to think like a criminal. She said it’s about understanding the vulnerabilities to achieve prevention. The work of the Think Tank has delivered a set of requirements on what needs to be done. The recommendation is for these to be included in the revision of the GFSI Guidance Document 7th Edition meaning that they will be integrated into the GFSI recognised food safety management schemes. In 2014 the Think Tank will develop guidance on how to implement the requirements. There is a strong intent for collaboration across the food industry in this area.
Lees joined the session by phone from Europe. She also worked in the Food Fraud Think Tank and proposed their ‘SMART’ testing concept: Specific, Measurable, Assignable, Realistic and Traceable. She said there are two new proposed elements for the GFSI Guidance Document; identification of risk through a vulnerability assessment followed by the creation of a vulnerability control plan to provide mitigation methods. In conclusion she said that an effective detection and deterrent strategy means not more testing but ‘SMART’ testing. Food Fraud is unpredictable and needs a different approach and the latest non-targeted technologies help you to look beyond the obvious.
Moore went through the work of USP and said that a vulnerability assessment framework for food fraud is being developed. He introduced the USP vulnerability matrix, a tool for a specific ingredient. Guidance has been developed for each factor in the matrix to drive convergence of assessments.
Reliable Lab Results for Reliable Decisions
Darryl Sullivan, Director of Scientific Affairs, Covance Laboratories & Former Chairman, AOAC, USA
Katie Swanson, President, KMJ Swanson Food Safety, INC, USA
Three experts in sampling and laboratory testing provided some fascinating insights on the initiatives underway to improve the reliability and use of the results we use to meet food safety objectives. Reliable, consistent, and harmonized laboratory test methods are necessary if the food industry is to depend on test results for product integrity.
Moderator Payton Pruett from Kroger introduced Darryl Sullivan from AOAC, who explained the rigorous processes in place by AOAC to harmonise test methods in a number of different disciplines, including food analytical methods. Russell Flowers from Merieux NutriSciences expanded this to include the work of ISPAM on microbiological test validation methods. Dr Flowers further explained the role of sampling plans and sample size in determining the reliability and confidence in test results.
Beyond that, Katie Swanson discussed the importance of knowing what to test, why to test, and what to do with the test results. Different tests serve different purposes, and Dr Swanson explained the need to ensure that we know the purpose of the test to achieve the right outcome.
Global Supply Chain Best Practices
Trevor Suslow, Extension Research Specialist, University of California, Davis, USA
Peter Begg, Sr. Director, Global Quality Programs, Mondelez International (MDLZ), USA
Jackie Healing, General Manager, Responsible Sourcing, Quality and Technology, Merchandise, Coles, Australia
Trevor Suslow talked to the delegates about how food safety is managed in the first stage of the supply chain, on the farm. He said that produce safety must be planned from the seed to the plate and it is the understanding of the details of the system that makes the difference. The solutions to food safety don’t have to be complex or expensive but they must be comprehensive. The routes of microbial contamination are known: water, soil, workers, equipment and animals. The standards and regulations to control these routes must be farm specific. Don’t move animals or compost near crops and consider the cleanliness of irrigation water and equipment. It’s important to separate food processing from the farm which it has its own language and approaches.
Peter Begg of Mondelez International picked up the story of the next stage of the supply chain and he described their approach to achieving compliance. There’s a robust internal program to measure every plant’s compliance which is now being validated by a 3rd party audit to FSSC 22000. He said that 80% of their facilities are certified. He said they’ve taken this approach and shared it with their raw material suppliers and they’ve asked all of their 3,000 raw material suppliers around the world to work towards certification against a GFSI recognised food safety management scheme by the end of 2015. Currently they’re at 50% of suppliers with certification. They’ve also built their support of GFSI through their Board membership and participation in Working Groups, Local Groups and Regional Focus Days.
Jackie Healing from Coles, an Australian retailer, told delegates about the next stage of the supply chain story. She described her personal journey towards achieving a quality culture. She started by developing her quality team with the right budget, facilities and reporting lines. In 2006 all suppliers were asked to achieve certification against a GFSI recognised scheme. Today schemes are managed by the suppliers working together with their Certification Bodies. Healing said that to build her executive authority it had been worth taking a robust approach which had really changed a lot of perceptions within the business. Coles spend AU$1m dollars a year on research because to drive change you must have the right scientific solutions. However, the biggest benefit has been in the new relationship of trust with their customers. She concluded by sharing some of her own key learnings including being clear on the goal and relentless in its pursuit.
Produce Safety: Fresh, Healthy and Safe?
Ian Williams, Chief, Outbreak Response and Prevention Branch, Division of Foodborne, Waterborne and Environmental Diseases, National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, USA
Trevor Suslow, Extension Research Specialist, University of California, Davis, USA Ricardo Adonis Ponce, Development Manager, FDF, Chile
Foodborne disease is common, costly and preventable, and according to three expert speakers; and industry is in a prime position to lead in reducing foodborne disease incidence. Good agricultural practices (GAPs) are well known and when applied systematically and well communicated can significantly reduce foodborne disease.
Public health authorities are seeing a rise in foodborne disease spread by fruits and vegetables. One in six Americans or 48 million Americans suffer from foodborne disease annually. With expanding supply chains, public authorities also are seeing a rise in multi-site outbreaks – to populations beyond a single geographic area creating a challenge for international exporters of fruits and vegetables.
Food safety is truly a shared responsibility and with strong tracing and food safety management we can succeed in preventing it. “Food safety is a team sport with many supporting players,” added Ian Williams.
Global Food Safety Cultures
Mika Yokota, Director, Food Industrial Corporate Affairs Office, Food Industry Affairs Bureau, Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries, Japan
Ryk Lues, Professor of Food Safety, Faculty of Health and Environmental Sciences, Central University of Technology, South Africa
Joseph J. Jen, Former Under Secretary of US Department of Agriculture in charge of Research, Education and Economics, USA
Yokota started by telling delegates about the emphasis on trust using the Japanese word “Anshin”, a subjective feeling that people have about food. She described the Food Communication Project, a collaboration between the government and manufacturers in Japan. This sharing network involving over 1,600 manufacturers helps build understanding between all and is a foundation to further develop the food safety culture, as communication is the key to trust in Japan. She said that the collaboration with the GFSI Japan Local Group has delivered a comparison between the GFSI Global Markets Programme for capacity building and their own Food Communication Project (FCP). It has shown what is shared and where there are gaps. Looking ahead, with further development this Japanese model could provide a connection between local and global engagement.
Ryk Lues shared the progress being made in South Africa. He said that behind every food management system there is a human being with all the aspects that influence their behaviours: needs, emotions, cultures and knowledge. He said that in South Africa it is when the two world of formal and informal collide that problems happen. Street food can be safe because it’s fresh and quick backed up by traditional knowledge. However, when demand is bigger than supply corners may be cut and vendors step beyond their comfort zone. Then the lack of infrastructure creates new hazards.
Joseph Jen said that historically, China has little or no food safety culture. Two traditions reflect this attitude. First, they believe that the human body’s own immune system is the best food safety defense. Second, they are big risk takers when it comes to a chance to make money, even if the result is unsafe food. This really began to change in 2008 with the melamine in milk scandal. Since then change has been driven through rapidly evolving regulations in light of the strong consumer reaction. The good news is that large food companies are taking food safety seriously, and there is recognition that many of the small and medium size businesses need food safety knowledge and training. The first food safety law was published in 2009 but implementation has been neither smooth nor effective, leading to a much needed re-organisation and a recognition of the need for further global collaboration.