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Friday, 13 December 2013

Distrust - A Critical Industry Consideration

Any system that is driven by distrust cannot build trust.

In an industry where friendship must be maintained, distrust appears to reign supreme. A simple mathematical relationship exists between friendship and distrust: 

Distrust: This high speed train full of fuel and at the peak of its acceleration has lost its brakes in the highly populated food production, distribution and consumption community. The industry is increasingly becoming unable to control this runaway train through the many sharp bends.
Although the industry and regulators are busy trying to stop the train, much of what is done is like supplying more fuel and applying lubricants to the brake pads. How does this make you feel? Is this actually happening? The answer is quickly found by taking a look at the incessant reports about fraudulent behaviour in the industry.

Fraud is overtaking the industry. Unfortunately, most anti-fraud strategies aimed at punishing the culprits end up adding more fuel to the runaway train's fuel tank. Adopted strategies force many fraudulent operators underground. Meanwhile, the adopted blanket approaches that cover all operators (a scope that is far too large for effective control) sufficiently divert and diminish the attention that should be paid to the actual culprits. Thus, with the added fuel as well as the diverted and diminished attention serving as the lubricant on the brake pads, the industry continues to have a slippery success in stopping this runaway train.

Much damage has already been done and more heartbreaks await the industry and consumers. This train continues to accelerate. The casualty toll mounts and everyone everywhere is on the path of this train. Even fraudsters are defrauded. Royalties and rulers; rural and city dwellers; the wealthy, the poor; highly educated or under privileged; everyone is affected by the carelessness and scheming of fraudsters. Fraud-tainted food and health products are consumed by all with some immediate, prolonged, visible or hidden adverse health effects. Everyone is affected by the increased cost of food due to self-imposing but fraudulent food safety management or corroboration schemes.

All hope is not lost but the industry urgently needs to think and act differently. If this train is to be stopped, the industry must re-orient its thinking about compliance enforcement. It is not reasonable to think that distrust can be completely stopped but the industry can at least stop doing things that encourage it or things that are counter-productive in stopping this runaway train.

The time to act is now. As stated in the introduction to the GCSE-FHP membership guide, “Attaining perfection is impractical. However, a sustained level of excellence is possible if we work at it and if we work together.” 

Posted by Felix Amiri
Felix Amiri is currently the chair of GCSE-Food & Health Protection, and a sworn SSQA advocate.

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