According to the World Health Organization, over 200 diseases are spread through food and one in 10 people fall ill every year from eating contaminated food. Much of the burden of unsafe food is preventable through sound food safety management.
To help shed light on these issues and contribute to provide improvement, DNV GL and the Global Food Safety Initiative and DNV GL partnered to run a survey amongst food and beverage industry players in 2018. Over 1,600 food industry experts from across the globe responded and the results were presented in a report launched at the GFSI Conference 2019 in Nice. The report presents insights into the industry’s mindset and approach to food safety, as well as the extent to which tools such as third-party certification and digital technologies help them achieve that imperative.
After presenting the main findings at the conference, Véronique Discours-Buhot, GFSI Director at The Consumer Goods Forum and Ingunn Midttun Godal, Director of Global Business Development at DNV GL, further discussed key takeaway, future trends, risks and opportunities. Watch this interview, the opening episode of the GFSI Experts Series or read the interview below.
Véronique Discours-Buhot: Ingunn, it was a great pleasure partnering with you with on this wonderful survey we did.
Ingunn Midttun Godal: Thank you, Véronique. GFSI and your scheme owner partners were an obvious choice for us when we looked for partners in doing this survey. It was really a good collaboration.
Véronique: Yes, we have not done any surveys since 2014. This is a very important one, because we had 1643 respondents from all over the world.
Ingunn: Yes, both from all over the world and also representing the entire value chain, from primary production to retail. This was really a good result, and we have statistical significance in the numbers since we got so many responses.
Véronique: What is the most important result for you?
Ingunn: There are three important topics. One is that food safety is still very high on the agenda within the food value chain and different companies. The most important risk is related to operational risks, like chemical, physical and biological contamination and allergens. Then I think the fact that there is such a clear conclusion in terms of certification, both adding value and providing specific benefits, was really important. The third [topic] is related to digital technologies and seeing that they hold a lot of potential, but that we are early on that journey.
Véronique: Yes, I was also surprised by that. I was expecting a higher rate of participation in technology to prevent food safety risk. Actually, we can see it differently. It’s very promising. That means that in the future technology has a role to play which has not been identified yet, so it might be very interesting.
Ingunn: Yes. I think it’s about the technologies being available, but we are looking for answers on how to apply them in a good way.
Véronique: Definitely. We have different people [involved]. We have people taking care of food safety, and you have on the other hand engineers taking care of all the technology. So maybe we have to reconcile those two worlds in order to find the best solution.
Ingunn: Yes. Across all industries, being digitally competent is going to be a core factor for success. Another very important part was related to food safety culture, which came second as a food safety risk after operational risks. That was a bit of a surprise, too. That really shows the human element in producing safe food. Then, if we look to certification, we see that having food safety management systems in place contributes to more employee engagement and awareness, which is of course very important in terms of building a food safety culture. So this was also very interesting.
Véronique: Yes, we were also very happy with this result, because we have included [a publication on] food safety culture by the Technical Working Group in our library. The raising concern about the inclusion of food safety culture is risk management. It’s really an interesting topic raised by this survey. Another interesting topic is that certification is not only seen as a constraint or a requirement from the buyers, but it is also a way for companies to comply with regulation.
Ingunn: Yes, and the ability [of certification] to demonstrate compliance with existing laws and regulations is very interesting.
Véronique: Thank you again for this great survey. It was a great pleasure to partner with you.
Ingunn: Thank you also, Véronique. This has been great.
Read the press release: Certification Seen as ‘Passport to Trade’ for Global Players in Food Safety
Browse the report, infographic, video and interactive results