The Application of IT Solutions in Food Safety Management

Contents

  1. The Changing Face of Food Safety
  2. The Impacts of these Changes
  3. The Food Safety Plan
  4. The Application of IT Solutions

1. The Changing Face of Food Safety

The last decade has seen a major shift in how the safety of our global food supply is managed. High profile food safety incidents have driven a regulatory response, increased consumer consciousness and placed new demands on food business operators.

This shift can be characterised by three key events, the first being the European Union’s (EU) 178 General Principles of Food Safety Regulation. Introduced in 2002, following the BSE and Belgium Dioxin incidents, this regulation represented a radical shake-up in how food businesses in the EU operated. It saw the introduction of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), risk assessments as the basis for all food regulatory decisions, the euro-wide rapid alert system and new obligations for food business operators.

The second key event is the emergence of the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) as a core driver in defining what exactly constitutes an effective food safety management system. In May 2000, following a number of food safety incidents, the CEO’s of a group of international retailers identified the need to enhance food safety, ensure consumer protection and to strengthen consumer confidence. The result was the GFSI which sets the requirements for food safety schemes. GFSI benchmarks existing food standards against food safety criteria and looks to ensure these standards have the same core requirements. This facilitates mutual recognition between the requirements of participating standards thus avoiding duplication of audits. GFSI recognized standards include the SQF, BRC, IFS and FSSC 22000. These are rapidly becoming the standards for food certification and many food businesses are required to operate food safety to one of these approved schemes.

Finally, and more recently, is the signing into law in January 2011 of the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). It aims to ensure the US food supply is safe by shifting the focus of federal regulators from responding to contamination to preventing it. It represents a radical development of food safety law in the US and will have wide reaching impacts. The law will bring in changes in how the FDA manages food safety in the areas of prevention, inspection and compliance, food imports and food defense.