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Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Examining Food Safety Certification Promises


A part of this was initially posted as a response to an update published elsewhere. I withdrew that post because I learned from an ensuing conversation that my intentions might have been misunderstood. The intention was and still is completely to help with the articulation of the promises made regarding food safety certification programs. My comments are to be seen as cautionary suggestions, rather than accusations since there are no specifically named parties to accuse. These comments only suggest a close examination of promises made in connection with food safety certifications.

Only Promise What You Can Deliver: 
For anyone promising to certify anything, I suggest as follows:  If you cannot completely (i.e. 100%) stand by, and/or stake your reputation on, what you certify 100% of the time, do not certify. Remember that where such certification relates to what can cause harm to another person, there are legal liability implications for the party granting the certification. If you run a certifying body, this question must be truthfully answered: If you are held legally liable for what you certify, will you still certify it? On what basis will you continue to certify whatever it is? There  are also the aspects of moral obligation and social responsibility to consider. It is fraudulent (although it may be legally acceptable) to grant certification and cleverly, immediately and effectively withdraw the certification in a fine print disclaimer. A genuine sense of moral obligation and social responsibility precludes such disclaimers. It is safer to truthfully, correctly and clearly state and stand by what is actually done.

If such certification promises are made to you, it is advisable for you to check and confirm your understanding of what is promised, and that what is promised is actually delivered. Of course, you must first establish that what is promised is what you need. 
All food businesses must think beyond acronyms, platitudes and the pursuit of empty promises.
Posted by Felix Amiri
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Felix Amiri is currently the chair of GCSE-Food & Health Protection, and a sworn SSQA advocate.

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