What's the most important priority at your plant and company? You'd better answer "food safety."
You can sleeplessly debate whether you should go gluten-free, whether to build your own plant or find a contract manufacturer, or even consider getting into cannabis products or not. But if you don't have a solid foundation of food safety, any of those other strategic decisions are for naught.
Food safety needs to be a strategic decision. A food safety incident can force an expensive recall, tarnish your brand for years, maybe forever, and even land you in jail—just ask the executives of Peanut Corp. of America, who currently are in jail.
The Grocery Manufacturers Association did ask their members back in 2011, and while 48 percent said the cost of a recall was less than $9 million, more than half of the companies spent more than $10 million, and some spent more than $100 million. A recall is not cheap.
According to one set of USDA data, the Agriculture Department had 125 food recalls last year, and FDA initiated another 285 for food alone. At USDA, undeclared allergens, extraneous material and listeria were the top reasons, each of those accounting for 20-some recalls. Nine were for the real scary bug, E. coli, and six were for salmonella. The most common reason for an FDA recall was a labeling issue, although those can run the gamut from leaving off a benign ingredient to an undeclared allergen to more serious labeling issues.
Two things about those data sets are worth noting. One is that all those causes – bacterial contamination, extraneous material, allergens, even mis-labeling – happen in the plant. The other is they all could have been prevented. Nobody's perfect, accidents will happen, but all of them technically could have been prevented.
Which means you need to maintain constant focus on how "clean" your plant is. Are your processes safe? Is it being adequately maintained? Have the plant and the equipment you've brought into it been designed for food safety?
In Designing Food Safety Into Your Plant, we've aggregated articles and more into a Special Report that will help you answer those questions. Get your copy today