I have heard, read and learned enough about this TV series from enough sources, and I now wonder if I should be glad for not watching any episode. Unfortunately, I do not have the same freedom of choice with respect to my involvement in the food industry. I work in it as a food safety and quality assurance specialist. You and I, inevitably, are also consumers and I am getting increasingly appalled by what is happening in the industry.
No argument or excuse diminishes the urgency: The food industry desperately needs to be liberated from the ferocious money-grab contentions. The highly damaging complicity must be stopped. Otherwise, fake food safety and quality assurance solution providers will continue to stand proud with the display of their concoctions for sale.
Who are the actual participants?
What identifies them?
With whom or what are they complicit?
Do we have any need to pay attention?
How much damage has or can this complicity cause?
Among some obvious players in the complicity, the industry has seen:
- Complicit scholars who conduct studies to support claims that are made by industry partners purely for commercial interests;
- Complicit "experts" who, for some self-serving purposes, say the media exaggerates reports about food contamination and make them look like these have increased. They argue that food contamination only appears to have increased because detection methods have improved;
- Complicit food safety and quality assurance solution or service providers who, for the sole purpose of making money, merely sell solutions to industry that tend to conceal reality from consumers and/or customers.
A number of opportunists (audit scheme owners, certification bodies, consultants, trainers, etc.), in competition against others, remain committed to expanding their sale of food safety and quality management solutions that they may not, in good conscience, support, except blindly. Through various manipulative means, they have captured the loyalty of naïve subscribers, although the solutions or services offered do not live up to the implied promises. Even as you read this, more food operations are falling victims to the tricks of cut-and-paste consulting services; rushed superficial training, and the allure of certification schemes.
Providers of irrelevant, ineffective and inefficient solutions openly suggest that assuring the safety and quality of food is a difficult undertaking. They say: “Bad things happen” so that, when their spurious solutions fail, they point back and say: “We told you so, that bad things happen.” Meanwhile, they devise cunning ways of enticing solution seekers to pay substantial amounts of money for their concocted solutions.
The exploitation is not all that hidden in the certification arena where enslaved food operations are cleverly enlisted to do the dirty work of enslaving other food businesses. They are required, as part of subscribing to the schemes, to force their suppliers to subscribe, who must also force their suppliers to subscribe in an unending chain of forced subscriptions. It has been a very clever scheme really. Some major industry titans (corporate customers if you wish) are first convinced to demand certificates. Intimidated by the giants, small to medium food businesses feel powerless to defend their positions.
Have you ever wondered why there are so many extra "modules" or "addendums" tagged on to the main certification schemes? Do you know why auditors and food businesses have to pay for scheme version-specific training every time there is a change? Must the audit frequency be every year to no end?
These provide very good vehicles for making you pay more money out to the complicit scheme merchants.You give, they take in their proposed "give-and-take" game. You will hear them say: "It is your cost of doing business" - your cost; their gain.
The games of hoax or thrones must go if the food safety and quality assurance sector hopes to have sustained success in dealing with the real enemies of food safety and quality assurance. Food businesses must take some drastic steps against hoax enterprises in this sector.
Food businesses of all sizes must abandon, at least avoid, pursuits that do not present a flattering picture of the collective intelligence of proposers, predators, participants or defenders. Wherever or in whatever the imaginary Westeros kinds of plots become realities within the food industry, food business operators must mount effective safeguards against all forms of exploitation and exercise their obligations to protect consumers against all threats that their products could pose.
Much effectiveness and efficiency in the assurance of safe food could be almost instantaneously gained if solution providers were to be held legally accountable and liable where the solutions provided are found to have failed to deliver what they explicitly or implicitly promised.