‘Inspect what you expect’ — in the food safety field, it all starts with science.
During my two decades working with the food industry on microbial safety and quality, I’ve helped companies big and small learn how to inspect what they expect. Today, as President of Etna Consulting, I routinely use this concept to guide clients towards achieving and maintaining GFSI-recognised certification.
This February, I’ll be attending my first GFSI Conference to speak at the plenary titled ‘Inspect What We Expect: Best Practices for Food Safety Management‘. I hope you’ll have the chance to attend the plenary and hear my fellow speakers, including Craig Wilson of Costco and Carmen Rottenberg of the USDA, discuss this varied topic. Until then, here’s a taste of the takeaways you’ll gain from the session.
Inspect What You Expect: What It Means for Food Safety
The ‘inspect what you expect’ philosophy informs every field from business to the military. At its core, it’s about communication: managers, and everyone who expects certain outcomes, should make sure that what they’re asking for is exactly what they want to happen.
In the food safety field, that means establishing consensus among the supplier, the retailer, the consumer and the regulator. These players have to agree on a definition of acceptable risk and on the level of inspection that needs to occur in order to assure control of those risks.
This is no small task in a world where perception of food safety is often coloured by myth and emotion. Science should always determine what you expect. I’d like to bring to the table some simple ways to incorporate science-based learning and information into the validation of processes and systems to mitigate food safety risk.
Defining Expectations with Science
Science helps us pinpoint the best ways to mitigate risk and to demonstrate compliance so that there’s more confidence between suppliers, retailers and consumers — as well as with regulators, who want to see scientific, risk-based approaches to food safety control. However, many companies don’t realise how easily they can begin to close the gap and assure the level of control that regulators expect.
Food safety professionals have many resources at their disposal: peer-reviewed literature, predictive models, government studies, surveys of pathogens and allergens in food products and ingredients, as well as tools like x-ray detection and environmental analyses. With these resources, food safety systems can control for potential risk rather than assuming that a negative test result proves an absence.
My presentation will highlight some science-based resources that attendees will be able to begin using immediately. Attendees can then take the resources home to their own workplaces and start to build programmes around them that match regulatory policy.
The Evolving Importance of Science in the Food Industry
It’s an honour to be sharing my science-based perspective at the GFSI Conference. Science has always been central to food safety and therefore to GFSI, and it’s only becoming more essential.
The companies that are poised for success have identified how to implement science in everything they’re doing relating to the product. We have unparalleled transparency in food production, driven by both technology and consumer demands. A scientific approach means that we’re making the whole process of food safety risk and controls more objective. We’re not doing things based on perception as much as on truth.
Please join me in the conversation to uncover the truth in Seattle. I’m excited to interact with colleagues from all over the world who are assembling to build a transparent network that keeps consumers safe.
This post was written and contributed by:
Etna Consulting Group