Greater cooperation on food safety throughout the supply chain to preserve company reputations was a major theme at this year’s GFSI (Global Food Safety Initiative) conference, wrapping up in Barcelona on Friday.
Cargill’s director of global certification, corporate food safety and regulatory affairs, Mark Overland told delegates that companies needed to share information on their suppliers – as uncomfortable as that sharing might be.
“Food safety should not be a competitive issue,” he said. “If your company fails, we all fail…As we push business to business transparency, we need to get used to the idea that when we assess our suppliers, we share that information; we don’t just do that to get a certificate.”
He said that there was no way that companies would share all of the information about their supply chain assessments, but they should get used to sharing information that might help uphold the integrity of the industry.
“We are going to have to get comfortable with sharing the relevant information,” he said.
Joining Overland in a panel discussion on supply chain management, Kraft Foods’ director of food safety and quality auditing Dave Wankowski said: “We should not see it as someone else’s problem. We need to take the key learnings [from outbreaks] and incorporate them into our own operations.”
The ongoing horse meat scandal in the European Union was an overarching concern at the conference, and Overland highlighted the problem as another reason for industry to collaborate on food safety and traceability.
“Look at what is happening with the horse meat issue,” he said. “We are all affected. The industry’s reputation is affected. We need to work as an industry to police each other and help each other, to make sure we don’t have food safety failings anywhere.”le as that sharing might be.
are information on their suppliers - as Mark Overland told delegates that companies need
As for how to share information, the panelists agreed that it was often difficult for competing companies to communicate directly, but industry organisations could play a key role in bridging this gap.