Entries by George Howlett

Food Safety – Falling Between the Cracks

There appears to be an emerging issue regarding the true nature of what I usually term the Food Safety Framework which governs food business operators in many geographic locations globally. In times past, the framework was so much simpler. The businesses proprietor driven by local regulation where it existed was responsible for safe food production. […]

US Government shutdown and food safety

Regardless of your political leaning, the recent US Government “partial” shutdown has affected the food industry in many ways – one of the most obvious being access to information. If you have visited a website whose URL ends in .gov since October 1st, you’ve undoubtedly received a popup notice announcing that the website is “unavailable […]

New feature “Alerts” will keep you updated

For a food business, if there is any silver lining to be found in a food safety recall of their products (and frankly I struggle to find any) it may be the inevitable change in the culture of the organization. Fresh with the open wounds of public, regulatory and media scrutiny, the food company undertakes […]

Unannounced Audits

‘Is there anybody there?’ said the Traveller, Knocking on the moonlit door’ The opening line of Walter De La Mare’s The Listeners captures perfectly the feeling I regularly got when as an auditor a number of years ago I was required to conduct unannounced audits on suppliers for a large food retailer. More on this in a moment… […]


Those working in the field of food safety management for any length of time will be familiar with the story of HACCP. In the 1960’s a US President by the name of John F Kennedy thought it would be a good idea to send three men in a hermitically sealed can, measuring 12 feet  in […]

Horsing Around – The EU’s response to the horse meat controversy

In my blog last week I highlighted what I believed was the European Union’s (EU) lack of a concerted response to the growing horse meat controversy. In the following days Simon Coveney, the Irish Minister of Agriculture called on the European Commission to adopt a coordinated approach to dealing with the horse meat contamination issue which by […]

Where’s the beef?

In the last four weeks Europe has witnessed the most significant crises to hit the beef sector since BSE in the late eighties and early ninety’s. Once again, consumer confidence has been shattered in the wake of the horse meat controversy calling into question the quality, safety and provenance of the food we eat. Since […]

Management Commitment & the Food Safety Manager

In a recent thread on the IFSQN forum a brave member posted her disappointment at having failed their initial SQF certification audit. The post highlighted for me the often hidden reality for many food safety professionals, quality managers and food technologists who are responsible for the implementation and maintenance of food safety systems. Systems which are the […]

Glass & Plastic Control: What’s the point? (Part 2)

In my Nov 26th blog post, I discussed the subject “Glass & Plastic Control – What’s the point?”. In this blog post, I’m going to take a moment to briefly explain how Safefood 360 addresses the GFSI requirements for this subject. Register your glass/plastic objects. This has always been a time consuming task, and it seems […]

Glass & Plastic Control: What’s the point?

Let me present two examples from my own personal past. The first scenario starts with a government food inspector’s surprise visit a number of years ago. At the time, I did everything that a QA manager was supposed to do. I made sure that I had a pre-determined monthly glass & plastic audit carried out, […]

IT Solutions for Food Safety Mangement

This is the pre-peer reviewed version of the following article: George Howlett. IT Solutions for Food Safety Mangement, October 2012, which has been published in the final form at: http://www.foodquality.com/details/article/2785461/IT_Solutions_for_Food_Safety_Mangement.html ———————————————————– The last decade has seen a major shift in how the safety of our global food supply is managed. High profile food safety incidents […]

Interpretation of Validation/Verification

There is much confusion about the meaning and use of these terms when applied to food safety management. They are often used interchangeably to describe the same function or activity. Global Standards and codes of practice use them with an assumption that the user already has a clear understanding of their meaning – which is […]