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Perspectives

Food safety enterprise and operational risk management

Food safety transformational change insights

Key components can help companies shift their food safety and operational risk management programs to the enterprise level.

Food safety evolution

The food and beverage industry continues to evolve at an increasingly rapid pace. New government regulations, along with expectations from consumers and stakeholders, compel food manufacturers, restaurants, and grocery retailers to sharpen their focus on food safety. These realities create an increased awareness of and sensitivity to foodborne illnesses and recalls. Meanwhile, many companies struggle to fully understand food safety risks presented by new and innovative—yet sometimes disruptive—operating models, as well as how to mitigate these potentially unfamiliar risks. The structure and management of food safety programs at food and beverage manufacturers, restaurants, and grocery retailers must transform to navigate today’s food safety landscape.

Companies can no longer rely on a single function to own quality and food safety because simply put, food safety is an enterprise-level risk. They need to embrace the scientific, operational, and consumer perspectives of food safety if they want to identify and mitigate the myriad risks facing their organization.

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Transformational changes

With consumers redefining food safety, increasing government regulation, and evolving operational strategies to help companies maintain relevance in today’s environment, there’s little doubt that the food industry is undergoing transformational change. Consumers are concerned about the immediate effects of food-borne illness or physical contamination. They’re also factoring potential long-term effects of foods and ingredients into their buying decisions. Furthermore, consumer trends bring focus to health and wellness, supply chain transparency, local sourcing, fresh and minimally processed foods, and social impact.

As if changing consumer trends and increased government regulation wasn't enough, each participant in the farm-to-fork continuum faces tremendous pressure to reduce costs while responding to consumer demand for more variety and customization. Food manufacturers often turn to outsourcing arrangements to maximize efficiencies and reduce costs, while restaurants and retailers must be quick to adapt to rapidly changing consumer tastes. Cost-reduction and efficiency-improvement initiatives have become a normal—and necessary—operational imperative.

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An enterprise and operational perspective

Moving from a purely scientific approach to one that incorporates scientific, operational, and consumer perspectives to identify and manage food safety risks is no small undertaking. Many companies understand the scientific basis for identifying microbiological, chemical, and physical hazards in their foods. But identifying food safety operational risks is more difficult because of the rapid external changes occurring in the industry. Operational risks go beyond regulatory compliance; they include consumer, brand, supplier, and process risks posed to the organization.

Food safety should be championed and governed at the enterprise level to properly manage the operational risks to an organization. A food safety program should contain four components: enterprise compliance management, supplier, and service produce risk management, food safety process controls, and analytics to identify the operational risks.

Four key components of an enterprise food safety risk management program:

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An enterprise-level food safety program that contains these program components and is aligned, responsive, and transparent allows it to be agile to both internal and external pressures. It can also help the organization proactively identify and manage risks.

Download the full PDF to read more about the keys to operational food safety risk management program.

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