The latest version of a handbook for companies throughout the supply chain who want to develop a new food safety system or strengthen an existing one has been released by the International Finance Corp.

The fourth edition has input from industry experts to identify and eliminate problems along the supply chain before they affect consumers or the bottom lines of businesses. It sets out what large and small companies can do to establish, maintain, and enhance food safety.

A single serious food safety lapse can badly tarnish the brands of restaurants, hotels, and food producers and processors, which can require years of investment and trust-building to repair, according to International Finance Corp. (IFC).

Food safety benefits
Revisions from the last edition in 2016 include updated standards and legislation, revised tools and techniques for implementing food safety systems, and information on management’s role and responsibilities. It also features the latest Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) benchmarking requirements and International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 22000:2018, the food safety management standards.

In surveys conducted from 2010 to 2018, 27 client companies of the International Finance Corporation (IFC) attributed $478 million in increased sales and $564 million in investment to better food safety. IFC is part of the World Bank Group. It supports private sector development in emerging markets.

The manual lists certification programs or standards such as BRC Global Standards, International Featured Standards and the Safe Quality Food Code but does not give an opinion on which a food business should select.

The 423-page document covers Codex Alimentarius Commission provisions and regulations of the European Union and United States. The latter two are a focus due to the importance of these markets for firms throughout the world and significance of these countries in developing a regulatory regime for food products that ensures a high level of safety and consumer confidence.

It also looks at production and marketing of food products in the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU). Created in 2014, members are Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, and Russian Federation.

Training and guidance for management
Prerequisite programs (PRP) include good agricultural practice (GAP) and good manufacturing practice (GMP). They aim to prevent or reduce the likelihood of food safety hazards. Most foodborne outbreaks are caused not by a breakdown or failure at critical control points (CCPs), but a failure in one or more PRPs, according to the IFC.

Many businesses face challenges, but small-scale producers and traders in developing countries need support in planning and implementing food safety management programs in line with international requirements and Codex guidelines and recommendations, according to IFC.

PRPs support the hazard analysis critical control point (HACCP) plan, which is a system that identifies, evaluates, and controls hazards significant for food safety.

Threat assessment and critical control point (TACCP) and vulnerability assessment and critical control point (VACCP) are relatively new but based on HACCP. Threats for TACCP include food tampering, intentional adulteration, and food defense.

VACCP systems also focus on food fraud but widen the scope of analysis and assessment to include systematic prevention of any potential adulteration of food, whether intentional or not, by identifying vulnerable points in a supply chain. It is especially concerned with economically motivated adulteration. Examples of topics in such a system include product substitution, unapproved product enhancements, counterfeiting, and trade in stolen goods.

The manual explains how to establish and develop food safety management system (FSMS) procedures and documentation using a dairy sector example.

A chapter on training does not recommend a specific path or a certain type of provider but offers guidelines and tips to help firms get maximum benefits from food safety training.

Another section describes the establishment and development of a food safety policy, methods for demonstrating commitment of top management, and the resources required to establish, develop, implement, and maintain an effective FSMS.

(To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)