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Wednesday, 17 June 2015

A harmless snake inspires food safety thought:

Food Safety inspectors and auditors are expected to check the up-keep of the exterior surroundings when they visit a food establishment. To the general public, the sighting of a harmless snake in a bush patch near the entry to a remote (cottage country) restaurant may be part of the attraction or distraction but, according to what you hear one of the owners or workers say in this video, slithering snakes are apparently not good restaurant entryway decorations. To the inspector or auditor, the snake sighting, among other things, confirms why the immediate surroundings of food establishments need to be kept free of bushes. Harmless snakes may be cute but snakes are not the only things that may find harbourage in nearby bushes. Some other bush-loving and food-loving pests are of justifiable concern to food establishment owners, customers, food safety inspectors and auditors. The sighting at this restaurant certainly raises at least one question: Can and do all restaurants enjoy the same level and frequency of regulatory or health department inspections even when they are as remotely located as this restaurant? The location of the restaurant has been deliberately left undisclosed.
Posted By Felix Amiri
Felix Amiri is the current Food Sector Chair of GCSE-Food & Health Protection

Thursday, 11 June 2015

Escape from the Strangle-Sphere

Lamentable is the strangulation and suffocation of the food industry buried under piles of paperwork. This appears to be self-imposed and driven by the fear that doing away with the burden may drive customers away.

Some companies may not be suffering from the strangle-hold. This may be due to a disconnect from reality. If you have not or do not feel the effect of the strangle-sphere, check with your food safety and quality staff. They will confirm for you what is actually happening. You should also read: Taming the Food Safety and Quality Systems Management Monster. Every actively engaged staff or company in the food industry feels the strangle-hold from one direction or another. On the other hand, establishments that are not properly engaged, or simply engaged in make-work food safety programs, are only riding the wave of pseudo-food safety success.

SSQA is a chain-breaker and transports the truly engaged establishment to new worlds far beyond the strangle-sphere.

Simply Electrifying

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

Saturday, 6 June 2015

What kind of food manufacturer joins the ELF Movement?

The “Eat Local Food” Movement (let’s call it ELF Movement) is gathering momentum as a force with some anticipated future effect on the food industry. It has a substantial focus on the very important subject of environmental protection among other things. But are the usual considerations for pushing the "Eat Local" idea the only things that should matter? Although I am attracted to this idea, it requires some serious thought.

Broadening the Consideration:

I fully support having local and smaller processing facilities for several reasons, including environmental considerations. Other considerations such as local employment in non-food production sectors and affordability of the local food by some members of the community are equally important. These other considerations are ignored as all eyes seem to quickly turn to “environmental protection”. Plausible arguments can be made for the environmental benefits but at what cost?

Effect on the Food Industry Landscape:

Could the ELF Movement gather enough momentum to change the way the food industry operates in the future? Common wisdom leads one to believe that this could be the case. In fact, more than the way the industry operates is likely to be affected. Businesses will likely be forced to tailor their operations in a way that caters to the sentiments driving the movement and the industry landscape will be affected.

The ELF Movement is poised to unveil a future with many local small-sized food processing operations. There will be less food manufacturing since “fresh” is also an ELF Movement motivator. Manufactured food is often not viewed as being fresh. Large food processors will have to scale down because the supply of locally grown food may not be enough to fill larger processing capacities. 

The scaling down will trickle down to the subsidiary industry sectors that support food processors and it seems reasonable to expect that the economic gains from increased business for local producers may very well be lost due to job losses as large processors scale down operations. Some published studies seem to present results that are contrary to this concern but the question remains. Can the growth in local food production sufficiently make up for any job losses caused by the possible loss of large scale processing or manufacturing operations? This question does not imply that very large food businesses automatically mean no job losses. In fact, as businesses grow larger through mergers and acquisitions, jobs are often lost. Large businesses also have more resources to acquire robotic systems with anticipated job losses at some levels. The companies providing the robotic systems may employ more people but the usual outcome of food companies switching to robotic systems is a net loss in jobs. Since company growth may also lead to job losses, the loss in jobs caused by the possible loss of large scale processing or manufacturing operations appear to be somewhat of a moot point.
The projected scaling down of food processing operations as a result of the ELF Movement gaining grounds seems to be more likely. This means that if the ELF Movement wins, although not likely to be the case in the immediate future, the food industry landscape may yet see the emergence of scaled-down operations with or without a net loss in jobs.

The Small Scope Advantage:

One other advantage that may be claimed for the ELF Movement is the fact that any food borne illness outbreak or recall is expected to affect a smaller (local) scope of individuals. This argument does nothing for me because one life affected by bad food is one life too many. What convinces me to support smaller scale food processing and manufacturing operations is the fact that they are easier to manage in ways that prevent food borne outbreaks. The cost of managing them towards this goal also needs to be scaled down to make it affordable for them. Here is where SSQA excels – cost reduction, stress prevention, confusion elimination, redundancy fighting, disagreement quelling, collaboration and community building, reality affirming and many more related benefits.

Related articles and literature for your reading pleasure:

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