Supply Chain Safety

Safety and security are paramount in a supply chain, so that the goods are delivered, as per client’s specifications.

The basic idea of safety and security, is protecting assets from hazards/threats creating safe/secure conditions. The condition safety is about being protected, while the condition security is about being free from danger. The differences between being protected and being free from danger or threat are not easily seen.

Industry has the responsibility to prevent and control food safety issues that can negatively impact consumers. Enhancing consumer confidence can best be achieved through proper development and implementation of effective food safety programs. Food safety practices and procedures that concentrate on prevention and anticipation of problems can be designed to locate potential problems before they manifest themselves as finished product consequences. Avoiding the production and shipment of tainted goods is significantly preferred over reliance on remedial procedures once contaminated goods have entered distribution channels.

Ingredient suppliers and other members of the supply chain (co-manufacturers/re-packers, transporters, warehouses etc.) may want to consider having a risk-based food safety system implemented at their place of business. At the very minimum, these parties should contemplate providing written verification that a documented, comprehensive evaluation to identify potential biological, chemical, and physical hazards in the process stream has been conducted and that effective measures are in place to control them. By comprehensively reviewing food supply vulnerabilities and developing and implementing risk reduction measures, potential critical issues can be minimized.

It focuses on the supply chain for foods and ingredients and the factors that play a role in the safety during transport.

Health and safety issues

It has been recognised for many years that actions taken in one part of the food supply chain can adversely (or beneficially) affect another part.

For example:

  • raw materials suppliers selling product in heavy sack weights can cause an increase in manual handling injuries at their customer food manufacturers or retailers;
  • food retail customers specifying product presentation or food hygiene requirements can inadvertently cause injuries or occupational health problems at food manufacturers.

Precautions which need to be adopted

In order to reduce injuries in other parts of the supply chain, the following precautions should be considered.


The main problems usually relate to manual handling (which causes 35% of food industry injuries). For example:

  • can product be supplied in bulk (e.g. bulk bags) rather than in sacks or in drums etc. or, if not;
  • are products in sacks, boxes, crates etc supplied at reasonable unit weights (i.e. not over 25kg). If weights are greater than this does the customer have the necessary equipment to avoid manual handling;
  • are boxes, crates etc provided with suitable hand holds.

Food retail customers

Problems can occur when customers place requirements on suppliers in relation to buildings/equipment or process/production. For example:

  • are processing/presentation requirements causing unnecessary musculoskeletal injuries;
  • are hygiene requirements affecting safety issues (e.g. floor surface specification or cleaning regimes having an adverse effect on slips risks);
  • do changes in product at short notice allow adequate time for revising risk assessments;
  • are reduced workroom temperatures set for product purposes acceptable under health and safety legislation;
  • are there procedures in place to ensure safe reversing of delivery vehicles at larger retail premises.

Food safety and sanitation

  • Evaluation of hazards, identification of control measures and monitoring for food safety controls
  • Sanitation programs, including sanitation standard operating procedures (SSOPs), master cleaning schedules, pest control, and sanitation verification and validation
  • Good manufacturing practices (GMPs), and documented work practices related to food safety not covered by regulations
  • Environmental monitoring programs
  • Foreign material control such as metal detectors, screens, filters, sieves and magnets
  • Allergen control programs, including label design and label compliance

Preventative procedures

  • Programs for controlling non-conforming product (hold and release)
  • Recall programs facilitated by lot coding and product and ingredient tracing
  • Food defense program
  • Crisis management program
  • Management of re-worked and returned product(s)

Risk Reduction Tools

Risk reduction tools could include:

  • Hazard evaluation, control and documentation programs similar to, or including, HACCP.
  • Control programs derived from the risk evaluation with scientifically validated limits, where possible.
  • Compliance with these controls that are documented and routinely verified.
  • Records substantiating the daily performance and the technical foundation of the food safety program that are maintained, reviewed regularly and readily available for examination.
  • Compliance with critical processing parameters that are verified before the product leaves the supplier’s control.
  • Technical references could be made available to support the selection of control parameters.

Supervisors and managers in food production plants could be educated in each of the following key areas where applicable to the product:

  • Food safety, including identification of hazards and successful management of programs to control those hazards
  • Proper food handling, storage, and distribution
  • Maintenance and sanitation of facilities and equipment
  • Environmental monitoring
  • Personal hygiene
  • Temperature control
  • Food allergens management
  • Pathogen control
  • GMPs applicable to certain agricultural operations
  • HACCP, where applicable.

Allergen Control

Managing allergens during the processing of food products is an issue of great importance. Suppliers and transporters may want to consider having effective programs in place at each business location to prevent cross contact and the inadvertent inclusion of major allergenic proteins in food products where they are not labeled as present. Suppliers must be diligent in informing customers regarding the presence of regulated allergens in product formulations.

Avoiding cross contact with allergens and proper labeling of foods that contain allergens are the two main goals of any allergen control program. Accordingly, it is important to establish appropriate policies and procedures as well as provide for an infrastructure that will facilitate management of allergens so there are no undeclared allergens in products. While each operation will have its own unique situations, components of successful allergen management programs typically can be classified in four categories: Controls to minimize the potential for cross contact, management of work-in-process (WIP) and rework, administrative and management functions, and label control programs.

Facets of a well-managed allergen control program could include:

  • Standard operating procedures (SOPs) to address allergen control activities, including the staging, warehousing and scaling of allergenic ingredients to prevent cross contact with non-allergenic ingredients
  • Lists or maps of allergenic ingredients, their locations and likely traffic patterns
  • Validated “allergen-clean” sanitation and/or changeover procedures
  • Control of factory air flow
  • Sanitary design of equipment and facilities
  • Avoidance of cross contact through physical barriers, control of traffic patterns and other means
  • Traceability of rework and WIP components
  • Use of rework only in “like to like” products, through use of a formula matrix
  • Production scheduling to minimize changeovers and potential cross contact
  • Monitoring and verification of allergen control procedures
  • Documentation and record keeping

Foreign Material Control

A variety of devices appropriate to individual operations are available to suppliers to limit the presence of foreign materials. Suppliers may want to consider the use of these devices where appropriate and useful to minimize the potential for product to contain foreign material. Foreign material control devices should where necessary, be placed in the process flow in the location(s) where they will have maximum product protection and effectiveness. Control devices should be routinely calibrated and checked. Foreign material control devices and guidelines for their effectiveness could include:

Metal detectors

  • For end product testing or located as close as practical to end product packaging
  • With an automatic reject or conveyor stopping mechanism and an alarm where appropriate
  • Calibrated for effective rejection of product containing metal the time of installation and tested during production to ensure rejection of appropriate test pieces


  • Of rare earth construction
  • Tested for effective placement, coverage, and pull strength at the time of installation and routinely thereafter


  • Checked for breakage and proper placement


  • A mesh size that is the smallest possible that does not restrict product flow
  • Inspections to assure their integrity

Other foreign material control devices could include:

  • Cyclones
  • Tilt tables
  • Flotation or water tanks
  • De-stoners
  • Optical sorting equipment
  • Strategically placed protective line covers
  • Bottle/jar washers, inverters, rinsers and other pre-filling clean-out devices
  • X-ray or other vision control systems
Demand and Supply Side Alignment
Supply Chain Security

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