Original article from SAI Global.
Food recalls in Australia have increased, with 106 recalls taking place in 2018–19 compared with 81 in 2017–18. SAI Global, a provider of food safety certification and training, believes that weak supply chain management is a primary cause of product recalls and is urging food manufacturers and retailers to invoke food safety management systems to reduce supply chain risks.
Food has never been a more global, fast-moving and complex market than it is today. When a food crosses borders of any kind, the familiar health and safety risks are joined by several others, including intentional and inadvertent adulteration, product mislabelling, substitution, spoilage due to any unforeseen circumstance, damage while in transit, and unpredictable politics and shifts in regulations.
In order to reduce product recalls, food manufacturers must continually rethink their controls, monitor their indirect suppliers and implement key performance indicators to manage downstream supply risks.
There are six ways food businesses can reduce food safety risks in the supply chain:
- Food businesses must listen to the consumer, as consumers demand high ethical standards when it comes to information about provenance, nutrition and allergens in the foods they consume
- Consumer-lead products should drive labelling and transparency of product. This includes all claims and allergens (actual and potentials) are addressed on the product label
- With organisations increasingly held accountable for the poor ethical activities of first-, second-, third- and fourth-tier suppliers, catering to consumers’ needs is critical to success
- Manufacturers can also use technology to build greater transparency. As technology connects food manufacturers and retailers to an increasing number of suppliers, it is essential that they are aware of the risks
- Technologies such as sensors to detect temperature changes and smart packaging that changes colour based on expiry dates could give manufacturers more control over potential risks
- Utilise systems that capture recipe development and proper labelling such as Zubi Labelling, Nutritics, Food Management Systems Software
- Utilise systems that capture traceability: barcodes, scanners, Microsoft Excel of consider software that may be linked to existing accounting software such as Unleashed Xero and Salesforce
 Key Performance
- Setting key performance indicators for suppliers and staff could also reduce product recalls
- Tracking performance and awarding high-performing suppliers and staff for providing high-quality products, on-time delivery and excellent service/production could reduce product recalls
- Manufacturers must ensure that these indicators are right for the early identification of risk and are set throughout the supply chain
 Approved Suppliers
- Ensure you have a trusted and robust Approved Supplier Program in place that is effectively activated
- While it can be challenging to monitor the end-to-end supply chain, monitoring indirect suppliers also reduces the risk of product recalls
- While it can be an extensive and expensive process, decisions regarding who to target and how far to go depend on the relative risks associated with the ingredients or products being sourced, such as country of origin
 Supplier Diversity
- A supplier diversity management program involves the creation of a diverse supply chain to secure the inclusion of different groups
- As food companies move from the ‘preferred supplier’ model to a ‘multisupplier’ model, such a program could introduce innovative through new products, services and solutions, and allow companies to explore opportunities for business expansion
- For example, if a product has been damaged or destroyed by bushfire, a supplier diversity program could allow manufacturers to source a product from an alternative supplier
 Staff Training and Company Certifications
- Food businesses can reduce food safety risks in the supply chain by ensuring food safety training for their relevant staff and obtaining and (successfully sustaining) food safety certification
- Each Australian state has a health.gov.au website which describes what type of food safety training is required. For example, in Victoria and NSW, most food manufacturing facilities shall require certified Food Safety Supervisors
- In-depth food safety supervisor training could allow food manufacturers and retailers to meet informationally recognised food safety standards such as SQF, FSSC, ISO 22000, BRCGSand IFS, which all incorporate the HACCP codex principles
- This also shows consumers that food companies have a robust food safety management system in place
- These standards also allow businesses to improve processes, increase efficiencies and communicate with their partners about risks in the supply chain