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Growing regulation demands focus for food firms

By Joe Whitworth+

24-Dec-2013
Last updated the 24-Dec-2013 at 10:32 GMT

Eagle Product Inspection and Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics explore food safety issues
Eagle Product Inspection and Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics explore food safety issues

Ensuring compliance with legislation is the main challenge and concern for food and beverage manufacturers.

Speaking to FoodQualityNews.com, Eagle Product Inspection and Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics both said with globalization and expanding supply chains, governments are stepping up the complexity and scope of regulations for food and beverage companies.

Simon King, head of sales service and marketing at Eagle Product Inspection, cited British Retail Consortium (BRC) Standard for Food Safety version 6 which was implemented in January 2012.

“There is more production and pressure to comply and that has driven the need for inspection and I expect that to continue.

“There are different forms to fill in, you need to document the risk of raw inputs and the area of traceability in the chain keeps on growing with the need to trace your product mix.”

Consumer pressure

He said the momentum and awareness of the consumer pushes back on food manufacturers and retailers as they see the fallout if adequate processes are not put in place.

When asked what the future holds for the firm, he said it will focus on R&D with a number of new products and they are developing their global distribution network.

“I see a combination of things, this year there has been a number of high publicity recalls and contamination issues such as birds in salads, it hits the headlines, there is public concern and that heightens awareness.

“News travels fast and mis-information is as damaging as no information so there is a duty of care for manufacturers.

“They have a legal requirement to ensure adequate traceability and X-ray can help with the identification of raw materials, in batch codes tracking, and making sure your inspection is in line to conform to the standards.”

He said global distributors are vital as they can offer local expertise in different geographies.

“In the US at the start of 2013 we had three partners and direct people, now we have 11 partners to cover the country. It is the same approach in China, whether it is multinationals in the country or local Chinese firms.

“It takes time to research the market and shortlist companies who can support the product technically.”

Compliance: a US look

Iuliana Nita, global marketing manager, food and beverage at Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics, identified two pieces of landmark federal legislation –the Food Safety Enhancement Act and the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).

“To ensure compliance, manufacturers are now being called to implement written preventative control plans regarding potential hazards that could affect food safety and verify that suppliers – both foreign and domestic – have similar controls in place.

“As the trend in food and beverage recalls is certainly not encouraging, we continue to support our customers in taking a stance to ensure that food safety criteria are met, since we believe that this self-regulation can actually build customer goodwill and loyalty, demonstrating that the company is making higher quality and safer products.”

Nita identified the firm’s flexible food tubing – Tygon S3 – which is formulated with a new kind of plasticizer and is phthalate free while still meeting necessary performance standards.

Social media power

She added that social media has become very powerful in regards to its influence on a food or beverage brand.  

“A story of finding unhygienic conditions can be damaging, but when social media comes into play, the scale of the problem grows exponentially.

“If an unpleasant tweet goes viral, a brand can be infamous in a matter of minutes,” she said.

“At the same time, commitment to customer concerns will be shared and the endorsement that provides will boost the brand image.

“Keeping high standards of hygiene and food safety will get noticed - and the alternative of letting standards slip is becoming a precarious decision, thanks to social media.”