Wednesday, 24 February 2010

The Investment of Getting it Right vs. The Expense of Getting it Wrong

Scandal sells news. Tiger Woods and Toyota have filled our newspapers and screens over the past few weeks. The popular media highlight every detail and add rumour and intrigue at a dizzying rate, from news channels to late night interviews, through the constant retelling of the story. More and more in the past few years the same glare of scandal has been aimed at the food industry, and suppliers, processors and the service industries have come under scrutiny.
The food industry has probably never had such a critical audience. Scandal alarms us but also informs and as consumers we want to know that we and our families are bring protected. While the media alerts us to the big stories the smaller, less scandal filled details are also important. In February, LRQA Food Month, the USDA issued 7 recalls including concerns over salmonella in salami, E.Coli in 4.9 millions tons of beef and veal and potential allergens in soy flour.
The good news is that these recalls have headed off scandal but a recall is never good news and still points to the potential for harm to the consumer.
More and more food companies are not looking at the cost of an effective food safety management system but the potentially catastrophic consequences of not having one. When brand, reputation, the stigma of scandal and sometime the tragedy of harm to their customers are weighed up the control of effective processes for food safety under a management system is seen as a bare minimum. For this reason as the media reports on food safety issues have increased. LRQA has seen a corresponding upturn in interest from major global food companies in external, independent verification of their systems for managing food safety. The development of food safety programs, such as FSSC 22000, have brought all these issues to a timely convergence – an increasingly aware and concerned consumer linked with a probing and unrelenting media on the one side ,and the value of robust scrutiny against a recognized food standard by a global certification body like LRQA on the other. With the responsibility of food safety in my hands and that formula in front of me I know what I’d do!