Consumers today want food products to be consistently attractive, nutritious, tasty and safe to eat. Recent outbreaks of food poisoning have made the community even more concerned about food safety.
Your customers (wholesalers, processors and retailers) are responding to this consumer pressure. They want assurance that you will provide products that are safe to eat and of acceptable quality. This is why they are asking you about quality management. You can give the level of assurance your customers need by implementing quality and food safety management practices.
And you are not alone. The same is happening in all developed countries.
WHAT LEVEL OF QUALITY AND FOOD SAFETY MANAGEMENT DO I NEED?
The quality management practices being requested by customers can be separated into three broad levels:
Basic approved supplier program.
Food safety management program incorporating Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) plan.
Combined quality and food safety management system such as a HACCP-based quality program incorporating ISO9001.
The level of quality and food management you need to implement will depend on your marketing arrangements and the potential risk of your product causing a food safety problem.
If your product ends up being supplied to a supermarket for example, either directly or indirectly, you will at least need to have a basic approved supplier program. Your customer may even specify what is needed.
If you are exporting your food product overseas, your customer is most likely to require a HACCP-based quality management system and maybe additional environmental or health and safety requirements. (e.g. Eurepgap Protocol or BRC).
WHAT IS A QUALITY AND FOOD SAFETY MANAGEMENT PROGRAM?
Such a program involves suppliers carrying out agreed practices that will provide assurance to customers that the product is safe to eat and of acceptable quality. Suppliers will need to keep sufficient records to demonstrate that the practices are a part of everyday operations. The customer or someone on behalf of the customer will periodically check that suppliers are carrying out the agreed practices.
Direct suppliers to supermarkets and retailers local and overseas need to develop approved supplier arrangements with their own suppliers. This could include:
Wholesalers who source product from growers and packers.
Direct-supply packers who source product from growers or other packers, wholesalers, and merchants.
Direct-supply marketing groups. The marketing operation within the group would ideally need to have a HACCP based quality management standard or code and growers would be approved suppliers to the marketing group.
Further assistance about specific practices and documents that may be included in a supplier quality and food safety program is available from EQAS.
Becoming an approved food supplier will generally require a “HACCP” based program, which provides a step towards higher levels of quality management, and can be tailored to suit your specific marketing requirements.
HOW DO I BECOME CERTIFIED AS A FOOD SUPPLIER?
Call EQAS on (08) 8338 2771 to tailor a food safety program to meet your specific needs and timetables.
EQAS can help you develop and implement the program, and then provide yearly reassessments to assist you in maintaining your certification, and ensuring ongoing market access to your customers.