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Food Safety Culture Grows Among Processors

Food safety has become a critical issue for consumers, governments and industry leaders, according to a recent report on food safety management released by Deloitte.

Eighty-three per cent of consumers can name a product that was recalled due to safety concerns in the last two years; 76 per cent of consumers report they are more concerned today than they were five years ago about the food they eat; and 57 per cent of consumers have stopped eating a particular product because it was permanently or temporarily recalled.

As well, surveys show 60 per cent of today’s consumers are concerned about the safety of the food they eat, but less than 20 per cent trust food companies to produce and sell safe foods.

“Globalization and increased consumer awareness have made food safety a critical issue that must be addressed,” says Stephen Brown, national leader, Consumer Products Industry, Deloitte.

The report entitled “Safe to move: Food safety risks are rising” concludes that the requirements and benefits of superior food safety management extend far beyond onsite food plant and production measures and protocols. It found that the challenges transcend the entire food supply chain, from farmers and food producers, to distributors, food service companies, product manufacturers, and retailers.

There is growing recognition that companies encountering significant food safety problems face potential remediation costs in the tens or hundreds of millions of dollars and potentially irreparable damage to their brand reputation, the report said.

“Companies that take a broad view of food safety management and supply chain integrity will have the most effective food safety programs,” adds Brown. “The traditional view of food safety as a plant management responsibility is too narrow and does not take into account the cultural and other organizational considerations that drive food safety effectiveness.”

“While an increasing number of executives are recognizing the importance of food safety, in many cases their responses have been limited by the overwhelming size and scope of the problem,” explains Brown.

To improve their performance, companies must assess their current capabilities for prevention and response to a food safety hazard, build governance, skills and processes to improve those capabilities and continuously monitor current and emerging risks.

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