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Thursday, 24 October 2013

Aftermath of the Killer Cantaloupe Devastation:

The euphoria of virtual success soon fades when painful realities take hold. The precipice is not that far removed from many operations.

According to the Daily News report quoting the Associated Press, Tuesday, October 22, 2013,The Jensens filed their lawsuit against Primus Labs, a Santa Maria, Calif., food safety auditor that checked Jensen Farms in July of 2011.”

This Jensen brothers’ lawsuit against Primus Labs calls to question if the usual third party certification disclaimer was provided by Primus Labs or whether it was read and understood by the Jensen brothers. The outcome of this case is not immediately predictable. However, the following facts are indisputable: Snapshot audits are sampling-based. Due to cost considerations, these audits only provide a short duration or window of opportunity to assess and observe the operations. Other factors affecting the reliability of the audits include auditor knowledge and experience, competition for business among certifying bodies, the suitability of the auditing checklist, etc. As a result of these limiting factors, third party audits cannot be and should not be relied upon to provide food safety guarantees. Third Party audits serve a different purpose than is often assumed

The assurance of food safety must come from the safeguards implemented by the food business operator. In spite of audits and certifications, the operator remains fully responsible for the assurance of food safety. Of course, as I have often said, much needs to be re-examined in connection with some current auditing and certification arrangements. Given the  current auditing landscape, these kinds of  temper tantrum litigation pursuits and CYB pre-occupations do not come as a surprise. We can in fact expect more of the same in the future until some radical changes occur in the auditing arrangements. 

The era of certify and run appears to be approaching an end. Auditors should expect to increasingly be held accountable and liable for what they certify.

In the meantime, many companies are feeling superficially invincible because they are yet to suffer a fate similar to the likes of: 

The feeling of invincibility will last for only as long as it takes the next devastating event to occur. The industry may yet get to the point where the correct arrangements are made with the right focus - things like the GCSE-Food & Health Protection proposals, including the collaborative SSQA-HACCP Synergy, intensified internal auditing arrangements, MOM training, education strategies, etc.
The Coming Shift is inevitable. Is your operation ready?

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Posted By Felix Amiri
Felix Amiri is the current Food Industry Chair of GCSE-Food & Health Protection

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