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Monday, 25 June 2018

Major Customers and 3rd-Party Food Safety Certificates:

Contrary to the growing number of companies needing their own supplier audit programs, many people still hold to this inane argument that "obtaining a third party food safety certificate is the only way to guarantee doing business these days".
With this argument in mind, let's just say that all major customers are demanding 3rd-party food safety certificates from their suppliers and ask as follows:

Does buying food only from third-party certified suppliers provide a reliable safeguard?

When people say: "We only buy from third-party certified suppliers", what do you hear, prudence or naïveté? Could a devotion to "buying only from certified suppliers" place a food operation at a greater disadvantage or even at risk than if its devotion is otherwise?

Consider the following points:
  • The near impossibility of having absolutely all suppliers certified to 3rd-party schemes
  • Some needed food or ingredients may only be available from non-certified suppliers
  • Certification does not always ensure knowledge and consistency of applied control measures
  • Non-certification does not always mean lack of knowledge that leads to inconsistency of applied control measures
  • Some non-certified suppliers could be highly regulated with frequent scrutiny by the regulatory authorities 
  • Due to sheer size that poses operation personnel management  challenges, some large suppliers that could afford to be certified could be less consistent in ensuring the safety and quality of food than smaller non-certified suppliers that could not afford to be certified (e.g. family-owned with family pride).
  • Customers tend to be less stringent with the monitoring of suppliers because of the false sense of security that is often associated with third-party certification
In ensuring the safety and quality of food, are there alternatives to buying only from third-party certified suppliers? Could we even say that buying only from third-party certified suppliers provides a worthwhile safeguard, if at all it provides any?
Posted by Felix Amiri
Felix Amiri is currently the chair of GCSE-Food & Health Protection, and a sworn SSQA advocate.

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