• The FDA reports that the top three food supply chain violations are from vegetables, seafood and fruits.
  • An FDA report stated that 10%-15% of all food consumed in the US is imported.  These products come from more than 300,000 facilities and 150 countries.
  • It is critical to protect your products and brands across food supply chains.  You cannot solely rely on analysis certificates or portrayed knowledge for protection.

Increased Awareness

One overriding food industry safety concern is how to best mange food safety across the global food supply chain while ensuring regulatory compliance.

Major food safety accidents over the past few years have increased the focus on food safety by consumers, the food industry, lawmakers, and regulatory agencies. It has resulted in significant media exposure, public health impact and a decrease in consumer confidence.

The increased consumer awareness of these foodborne illness outbreaks, contamination events, and recalls has resulted from:

  1. Advances and improvements in public health signal detection (PulseNet).
  2. New regulatory reporting requirements of contaminated food products in commerce ( The Reportable Food Registry).
  3. Improved communication streams and interconnectivity between regulatory agencies domestically and internationally.

PulseNet is a system whereby public health laboratories, along with the CDC, analyze strains of bacteria determining their genetic footprint. This allows for a more precise determination of the specific source for foodborne illness outbreaks.

The FDA Reportable Registry requires firms to report instances of product contamination resulting in identification of recalls.

Within the food supply chain, the key factor of concern is adulterated food that is impure, unsafe or unwholesome. Adulteration can be intentional or unintentional. Economic adulteration of food, or Food Fraud, involves the counterfeiting of food with false misrepresentation for economic gain.

Other issues regarding imported foods are consistency, quality, price, availability, and consumer demand for diverse food products.

Imports On The Rise

An FDA report stated that 10-15% of all food consumed in the US is imported. FDA regulated products come from more than 300,000 facilities in 150 countries.

Imports will continue to grow because of the rise of emerging markets, scarcity of natural resources, and the increased flow of capital, information and goods across borders.

The USDA reported that the three food industry groups with the most violations were vegetables (20.6%), fishery and seafood (20.1%) and fruits (11.7%). Violations include sanitary issues with seafood and fruit products, pesticides in vegetables, and unregistered processes for canned food products.

Protection From The Top

From a regulatory perspective several new laws and regulations have been enacted to help address the safety of the global food supply chain, namely, the Bioterrorism Act of 2002 and the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). However, regulations are only as good as the resources to investigate and enforce them.

The responsibility for protecting your products, brand and supply chain partners, will depend on a thorough understanding of the following: 1) All of the possible hazards across the supply chain, 2) Mitigation strategies you and your supply chain partners have in place, and 3) Monitoring and verification across the supply chain to ensure systems are working and are contemporary with emerging food safety issues as they arise.

Another agency that is helping with safety in the global food supply chain is the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate Centers of Excellence network, compromised of hundreds of universities that generate new technologies and critical knowledge.

Protecting your product and brand across a food supply chain is critical. You can’t solely rely on a certificate of Analysis, supplier specifications or someone else’s portrayed activities and knowledge.

Each step along the food supply chain must be held accountable for what they supply or handle:

  •  Raw material/ingredient procurement process
  • Food manufacturing process
  • Finished goods distribution process
  • Finished product sales point.

It is essential to understand and have confidence that your immediate source of supply also has conducted a preventative controls assessment as characterized by FSMA. Members of the supply chain must have a clear understanding of the production and processing controls necessary, as well as have them functionally verified and validated, to address the hazards that  may be associated with the foods they handle both up and down the supply chain.

Dr. Gary Russotti MD, MS
Idea Boxx – Director of Medical/Biochemical R&D and Regulatory Compliance
  1. Summarized from: Ades,G. and Henry, C. “The Food Safety Challenge of the Global Food Supply Chain”. Food Safety Magazine. Jan 2012.
  2. Hamburger picture; http://www.bravotv.com/blogs/food-critic-reviews-mcdonalds-kale-sriracha-burger and http://www.cosmopolitan.com/health-fitness/advice/a31996/signs-youre-not-eating-enough-fat/
  3. Strawberry Photo; https://www.rentokil.com/blog/food-supply-chain-the-coming-impact-of-the-iot/#.WlTobSPMzBI