SQF the Key to Safe Quality Food Programs

SQF Safe Quality FoodWith consumers becoming more aware of food safety and quality, more and more food suppliers are forced to conform to consumer expectations and raise the bar on food quality to maintain customer loyalty. In turn, food suppliers are placing higher standards on the manufacturers, growers and breeders of their food products. The end result is a higher standard of food quality, all across the food chain.

The higher standard of food quality has provided benefits to everyone; from growers to consumers. Benefits received by SQF participants include time and cost efficiency, convenient quality verification processes and a higher level of consistency of purchased products for consumers, retailers and processors. Consumers also receive buying confidence and, as a result, continue to purchase food from safe food suppliers and retailers.

Like consumer expectations, benefits received by businesses have also made a large contribution to the growing number of businesses adopting SQF practices.
As more and more businesses move towards Safe Quality Food practices, education becomes essential. Without proper education, businesses are unable to create an effective quality management system. And while safe food practices are quite complex, they can all be directed back to one key element; prevention.

Prevention requires a number of important elements. Product and laboratory testing should take place at each stage of the food chain. Prevention also requires that each stage of the food chain handles and processes food products with the highest level of safety and quality practices. Examples include cross-contamination prevention, proper heating or cooling of high risk foods and proper equipment sterilization.

It is through prevention that contaminated food products or products that fall below the high standards of Safe Quality Guidelines are unable to advance to the next stage of the food chain. Incidents that could have been prevented with an effective food safety system include the peanut salmonella poisoning incidents in 2009 and the salmonella poisoning of tomatoes and Serrano peppers in 2008.

In the peanut outbreak, FDA investigators had determined that rain water dripping from the roof had contaminated the finished product. Building maintenance to prevent the leak would have prevented thousands of illnesses related to contaminated peanut butter and peanut products. In the Serrano pepper and tomato contamination, it was found that the Mexico farm that grew the peppers and tomatoes had contaminated irrigation water. Had SQF practices been implemented in this incident, swab testing would have indicated food surface contamination and the contaminated food would not have reached thousands of consumer’s plates, causing more than 1,300 illnesses.

Mistakes like these can cause serious illness and even death of the consumer.

Not all problems with food quality and safety are this severe. These cases, however, make the message quite clear that prevention, in all stages of the food chain, is the key to effectively implementing an effective Safe Quality Food management system.

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Comments

  1. Sarah says:

    I’m not a quality expert but this site just helped me a ton! Thanks.
    - Sarah