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Tuesday, 22 January 2013

“Farm to Fork” - An Expanded View

Produce, Process , Prepare and Serve with the SSQA Mindset

Food safety and quality from farm to fork is a popular phrase in many circles. Let us break this down into the five aspects of applying this concept.

A Scope
As a scope, farm to fork covers the various checkpoints at which food safety and quality assurance measures must be applied. There may be a slight twist when food from hunting and fishing sources are considered. In that case we may simply describe the same thing as from the wild to the fork. This scope of consideration certainly enhances the confidence that the industry is ensuring complete coverage of all key points in the food supply chain. Without question, the demonstration of due diligence through this scope is crucial.

A Direction
From Farm to Fork also represents a direction. Food naturally flows from farm to fork. This brings traceability into focus. Food traceability makes good sense with this direction of flow. It inevitably provides the sense of a completely traceable path. There may be numerous branching out along the way due to intermediary processes and supply chain configurations. Such branching out is where traceability faces its greatest challenges. Nevertheless, as in a relay race, traceability follows the tracks from farm to fork although the baton may be passed to other participants at different stages. Except in instances when tracking may be backwards depending on if and where issues are discovered, traceability naturally flows (through meandering paths if you will) from farm to fork or from the wild to the fork.

A Collective Commitment
Call it a dedication, a determination, a collective commitment or anything else, understanding the scope and the direction of food flow from farm to fork is extremely important and useful. It shows where responsibilities, accountabilities and points of collaboration lie. Every contributor from farm to fork must show commitment and the willingness to collaborate. Anything short of this weakens the supply chain to the detriment and regret of all stakeholders with unsuspecting consumers bearing the brunt of the pain.

A Pragmatic Order
The practical methods for assuring food safety, quality, sufficiency and distribution efficiency must be pragmatically implemented and consistently maintained at every point from farm to fork. The farm to fork approach also provides a proper order of implementing programs in a collective sense. For instance, the industry must both motivate and educate itself from farm to fork. State or national policy makers must design policies that ensure food safety from farm to fork. Regulators must ensure consistency of food safety from farm to fork. Institutions involved in food safety education and training must develop curricula that cover from farm to fork. A break in this order in any endeavour can create problems and undesirable outcomes. The completeness and consistency of achieving the desired goals can be negatively affected by a break in the order.

A Mandate
This mandate encompasses waste prevention, supply sustainability, equitable distribution and public health assurance. In short, this mandate specifies that whatever is optimally produced from the farm or from the wild must get to the fork through quality preservation, equitable distribution, efficient and effective resource utilization and replenishment, without causing harm to consumers or the environment.

The Strategy Driver - SSQA
The SSQA concept provides the tools for the required collaboration. With its marks of clear distinctionSSQA empowers operations of any size and at any point in the chain from farm or wild to fork. Participating operations are not burdened  by unnecessary impositions outside of what is truly beneficial to all collaborators and consumers.
Posted By Felix Amiri

Felix Amiri is the current Food Sector Chair of GCSE-Food & Health Protection

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