Tag Archives: Supply Chain Vulnerabilities

Rick Biros, President/Publisher, Innovative Publishing Co. LLC
Biros' Blog

Food Safety Supply Chain Quality Assurance

By Rick Biros
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Rick Biros, President/Publisher, Innovative Publishing Co. LLC

Both the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) and the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) have certainly raised the awareness of food safety in the supply chain.  The subject has been covered extensively by Food Safety Tech with articles such as the Taylor Farms Unnecessary Recall, and Product Tracing.  Earlier this year, at Food Safety Tech’s Supply Chain Vulnerabilities Conference we learned about many supply chain threats to food companies.

Last month, Food Safety Tech Editorial Advisors David Acheson, Jennifer McEntire and Jerry Roberts met with Tom, Beth and me in Philadelphia to discuss the next Food Safety Supply Chain Conference.  After an lively conversation over lunch, David commented that the topics we were proposing for the next conference were so numerous that we were looking at an eight day conference, thus, the conference series was established!

Food safety in the supply chain is certainly immense and overwhelming topic.  Through the conference evaluation forms we learned it’s one thing to learn about the problems, it’s another to know what the solutions are!

Food Safety Tech has taken steps to help the food industry tackle these challenges by developing a Food Safety Supply Chain Conference series and premiering the Supply Chain Resource Center.  Both will inform you on the threats to your company from the supply chain, but equally, if not more importantly, how to deal with these threats with best practices and technology solutions.

The October two day Food Safety Supply Chain Conference in Philadelphia focuses on:

  • Food Safety Supply Chain Quality Assurance
  • Traceability
  • Recall Management Strategies
  • Legal Liabilities

You will learn not only the vulnerabilities in the supply chain that you need to protect your company from, but also learn of best practices and technology tools to help you reduce your company’s exposure to food safety recalls as a result of your suppliers and improve profitability.  Simply, the goal is to provide practical information that after attending the conference you can begin implementing what you learn at your company immediately.

The Supply Chain Resource Center, sponsored by SafetyChain Software is a microsite within FoodSafetyTech.com that is a central point or repository of food safety supply chain news, articles, white papers, case histories, videos, archived webinars and more.  The Resource Center is more than just didactic content.  You can become an active member of the industry by participating in the interactive poll.  “Food for Thought” allows you to voice your opinion and thoughts.  “More Resources,” on the lower right are helpful industry links and the “Safety Chain Learning Center” is content posted by the sponsor.  We encourage you to bookmark the page and visit the Resource Center on a weekly basis to review most current news on food safety supply chain quality assurance in one convenient spot.

Later this year, we plan to roll out more Resource Centers on topics such as Traceability, Recall Management, Food Safety Audits, Food Microbiology, Food Forensics and Food Safety Training.  Please feel free to contact me if you are interested in contributing content or are interested in the sponsorship opportunities.

Both the Food Safety Supply Chain Conference and the Supply Chain Resource Center demonstrate Food Safety Tech’s belief that while many food companies have a good handle on their own food safety programs, their exposure to food safety incidents is getting higher with the larger, more global food supply chain and it is our job as a trusted information provider to educate the industry on the vulnerabilities as well as the solutions to these challenges.

All the best!

Rick Biros
Publisher/President

Rick Biros, President/Publisher, Innovative Publishing Co. LLC
Biros' Blog

What You Don’t Know Will Hurt You, and Food Execs in Orange Prison Suits

By Rick Biros
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Rick Biros, President/Publisher, Innovative Publishing Co. LLC

Delegates from Food Safety Tech‘s Supply Chain Vulnerabilities left the conference better prepared to face the challenges from the threats to their companies from the global supply chain.

Pat Brown, Senior Director of Food Safety at Rite Aid, who is a Food Safety Tech Advisor and was interviewed for the “What Keeps You Up at Night?” Food Safety Tech article, said to me at this week’s Supply Chain Vulnerabilities Conference in a tongue-in-cheek manner, “Rick, you know what keeps me up now? Your f#@&! conference!”

I know Pat well enough to understand his comment and Pat did not have the monopoly on the word “Fear.” Our intent in developing this conference was not to scare the pants off food safety and quality professionals but to educate them on the threats to their customers and companies from the supply chain and, equally important, introduce some best practices and technology solutions.  

Speakers presented supply chain threats to food companies and their customers such as spices from Asia and everything that comes with them such as pesticide residues, bacteria and rocks. Tim Sonntag from Wixon pointed out that spices and seasonings topped  FDA’s Reportable Food Registry of salmonella-related entries and explained why traceability is a challenge when sourcing products such as spices from Asia.  

Marty Mukenfuss from FDA gave us an update on the Food Safety Modernization Act as well as a rundown of the FY 2011 Imported Food Report.  Tatiana Lorca of Ecolab provided a GFSI overview but more importantly, Best Practices of making the best use of GFSI. The case histories that were presented were from big and medium size companies and provided us with real world solutions to better managing supplier risk.  The two lawyers in the group, Jack Hall and Marty Ellis were entertaining and enlightening on the legal threats and thus, financial damages of a food safety outbreak caused by a supplier. Also, they discussed the legal ramifications of FSMA and provided available tools to protect the industry.

It’s not just imported food supplies that are threats. Paul Hall of Flying Foods told us of pre-cooked chicken from a domestic supplier that tested 95 percent positive for salmonella and the steps his company took to prevent that.  

Pharmaceutical and Medical Device executives have gone to jail when found negligent in product safety issues. With FSMA, FDA has more enforcement power than ever before, which was confirmed by Mukenfuss. Dr. David Acheson, the chairperson of this conference, moderated a panel discussion that included the question “should food executives go to jail if they are knowledgeable and negligent in a food safety outbreak that cased injury to the public?” The consensus from the panel: “Yes!”

Jennifer McEntire of Leavitt Partners gave a fantastic presentation on Traceability and she reviewed the background of an IFT traceability pilot project she is working on. The project was commissioned by FDA to determine what data is needed to trace products and how to make sure it is accurate and quickly accessible. The data is being reviewed by IFT now and will be presented to Congress this summer. Food Safety Tech plans to report on its findings as soon as it is available.

Overall, the presentations led to discussions between speakers, delegates and sponsors. Solutions, tools and best practices were discussed so that fear was not the underlining them of the conference. I would say the takeaways were: 

  1. With more and more global procurement of supplies, it is even more difficult now to produce safe, quality food products;
  2. FSMA is a game changer for the food industry; 
  3. There are tools, solutions and best practices that can guide you through FSMA compliance as well as protect you from supply chain threats;
  4. GFSI is a great tool but is not the silver bullet. Also, you need to understand the difference between a good audit and a bad audit; and
  5. Supply Chain education and understanding is key to protecting your customers and company.

The purpose of the conference was not only to illustrate things that food safety and quality professionals need to be aware of but how to plan for and prevent these threats from harming your customers and company. The conference was successful because delegates left with tools and techniques that they can start using and implementing right away.

At the conclusion of the conference we realized that this subject is much larger and can’t be covered in two days.  We are now planning a follow up program for the fall.

All the best!

Rick Biros
Publisher/President