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Saturday, 26 November 2011

Food Safety Management Scenarios

Food safety management worldwide can be depicted with one of two scenarios: It is either that of intermittent calm and commotion or it is of measurable progress in the achievement of a sustained calm.

In the calm and commotion scenario, adopted strategies and practices for ensuring food safety are successful for a period. This is the period of calm. Sooner or later, the adopted strategies and practices fail and commotion arises with the attending frenzy of dealing with failures, recalls (or outbreaks of food-borne illness in the worst instances). The sporadic and unpredictable swinging or (Yo-Yo) nature of this scenario gives little hope or comfort to consumers. Sadly, this is the predominant scenario according to my observation over the years. Every agency that is entrusted with ensuring food safety appears to be caught in the milieu of sporadic calm and commotion. 

In spite of the dizzying swings, some people may tell you that it is working. So does a swing. It works but goes nowhere. Food Safety and Quality Management systems should not work like a swing. Undeniable evidence worldwide shows unrelenting commotion caused by failing strategies and practices.

In the second scenario, we have commotion that exists amidst a growing calm that is measurable. It is the scenario of steady progress without relinquishing conquered territories. This ensures the continuous increase of attained calm while commotion dwindles. Although many people may claim that this is where things are with their food businesses, it is difficult to present a credible argument that this is where things are in reality. One reported case of recall or illness outbreak continues to follow another as we observe the marketplace. Nevertheless, it is possible to have the steady progress scenario. With the right kind of focus, measurable progress can be made in the achievement of a sustained calm. This is the determination of the Global Coalition for Sustained Excellence in Food and Health Protection (GCSE-FHP). It currently sponsors and promotes the adoption of the SSQA concept. 

With SSQA, the document joggling prowess in food safety and quality management loses its dazzling enchantment. The "roll-up-your-sleeves" and "on-the-floor" management approaches are given greater credibility. Being “serious” and “for real” is why the SSQA concept will never become a mere industry jargon that is thrown around to impress at food safety shows, conventions or similar gatherings.

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