Supply chain shares food safety responsibility

by Joanie Spencer
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In matters of food safety, bakers and snack food manufacturers have responsibilities not only to consumers but also to customers — supermarkets, grocery retailers and foodservice operators. Products sold through these channels reflect on manufacturer and seller alike.

“Risk is everywhere,” said Shawn Stevens, founder of Food Industry Counsel LLC, Random Lake, WI, a law firm specializing in food safety. He spoke to supermarket in-store bakery and deli operators at the 2015 International Dairy-Deli-Bakery Association (IDDBA) expo. “There’s not a food product in our refrigerators at home or in our display cases at retail that’s immune,” he said.

IDDBA developed a food safety initiative, Safe Food Matters!, to build awareness and use of safe food handling practices.

Mr. Stevens urged operators to understand the risks posed by harmful microorganisms and to work with the suppliers of the products they sell to the public. “For starters, we ought to know our suppliers,” he advised. “Get out there and visit them. Get to know them. Encourage your food safety folks to get out and know who you’re doing business with.” He compared trusting certificates of analysis (COAs) without in-person ­verification to buying a used car sight unseen over the phone. “If we wouldn’t do it for a used car, why in the world would we do it for food? We’ve got to know our suppliers,” he stressed.

Food safety is a responsibility shared across the whole supply chain. The challenge is this: “Microorganisms want to survive,” Mr. Stevens said. “It’s our job to not give them the opportunity.”

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