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Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Modern Food Industry Sand Hill Enterprises

Building sand hills may keep people busy enough because the hills do not and will not remain standing for long enough to allow much time for the builders to rest.  
            . . . and the ultimate accomplishment is. . . ?

Photo: An area of Super Bowl Central promoting tourism to Mexico features a sand exhibit of that country’s landmarks.
Photo by Emily Mahoney
Tom Easley, in a comment posted to the GCSE-Food and Health Protection discussion group, explained how some dairy companies that served as his suppliers in the past deliberately skewed certificates of analysis. You may read his comments here: The Letter of Guarantee and Third Party Certificate Question

We live in a modern food industry world, or do we? With so many players having an almost irresistible bent towards uncivilized behaviour that is driven by greed, it appears hopeless to expect any trustworthiness within the industry. It is sad that we cannot boast about living in more civilized times since transparency remains just as dodgy as in the days when, as Walter Anderson described, "people held red-hot iron bars to prove their innocence or honesty" (Walter Anderson’s comments).

Both then and now, I'd rather have true civilization where greed is replaced by true collaboration with a persistent sense of moral obligation and social responsibility.

This is the call to an industry that appears to have lost its way.

Scientific and technological advancement should have made it possible, and indeed makes it possible for businesses to be profitable while remaining voluntarily transparent and morally responsible. Businesses can operate honestly without the need for policing by regulatory and other industry monitoring agencies

Make-work enterprises are continuing to expand with wasteful industry monitoring proposals, enslaving complexity and intricate but deceptive semantics. Intended as solutions, intensified punitive measures to force compliance often disrupt the precarious compliance sand hills even more, and the industry slides further downhill. Are food businesses, the regulators and other monitoring agencies ever going to learn and move past the building of monuments with sand? 
Confusion builds and the cost mounts for businesses that subscribe to redundant systems management proposals. Some businesses, to their own detriment, are continuing to engage in fraudulent practices. It is easy to see that, without a radical change, more rocky times await the entire industry. 

Even the most advanced food safety monitoring intelligence will soon fall well behind, if this is not already happening. In fact, some food safety assessment schemes are part of the make-work enterprises with the often celebrated virtual success. Meanwhile, consumers continue suffer the punishment of food-borne illness and, in some instances, death. As more certified failure incidents cause food-borne illness outbreaks and deaths, the litigation industry is getting increasingly active. Ask Bill Marler if any food safety certificate has ever prevented lawsuitsFood businesses need to spend more time on the plant floor preventing failure incidents rather than in the courts defending them.

The sand hill and baskets of water enterprises are multi-billion businesses.
This does not mean that the world benefits from them as the money flows into only a few pockets. The money, in many instances, flows right back out of the pockets of food merchants almost as quickly while leaving a trail of health problems for consumers of fraudulent and hazardous food.

We can do better is the message and determination of GCSE-Food and Health Protection. Among other things, the Coalition’s drive has given rise to the safety, security and quality assurance concept (SSQA Conceptthat can be easily implemented by any business anywhere without the cost burdens of some of the other options.
Posted by Felix Amiri
Felix Amiri is currently the chair of GCSE-Food & Health Protection, and a sworn SSQA advocate. 

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