Recent high profile food safety and food security incidents across the globe have increased global awareness of the potential food safety and food security risks involved in producing and manufacturing food products. As a result, consumers are increasingly interested in assuring that the food products they buy will not cause any
negative health consequences. Consumer and media interest in food safety and food security and the desire to protect food consumers from food safety risks, have motivated international governments, private and public organizations and large-scale buyers of food products (i.e. supermarkets, retail chains, hotels, restaurants) to require
that food producers and manufacturers have and follow complex food safety and food security assurance programs in order to:
(a) Obtain Government Licenses and Permits – International governments across the globe have created laws, regulations and agencies that require that food producers have and follow a food safety or food security assurance program in order to obtain government operating licenses and permits. It is expected that by 2005 every country in the world will have food safety laws that directly impact the cost and practicality of operating a food producing or manufacturing facility.
(b) Export Food Products to Certain Countries – Currently, food producers and manufacturers that operate outside of the United States cannot export their products into the United States without demonstrating that they have and follow a food safety assurance program based on Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (“HACCP”). The U.S. is only one example of many governmental import and export restrictions based on food safety and food security.
(c) Sell Food Products to Large Scale Food Buyers – Most supermarkets, retail chains, hotels and restaurants now require that their food suppliers demonstrate that they have and follow a food safety assurance program designed to minimize food safety risk. These large scale food buyers increasingly also require that their food suppliers hire independent food safety experts to ensure (through an audit) that the food supplier has and follows a food safety assurance program.
(d) Become a Member of Industry Associations – Membership in industry associations is an important part of operating a food producing or manufacturing company and marketing food products. In light of the governments’ and food industry members’ focus on food safety and food security, many industry associations are now requiring that members demonstrate that they have and follow a food safety assurance program as a pre requisite to membership.
Notwithstanding the importance and benefits of having and following a food safety or food security assurance program, the complex and scientific nature of developing, implementing, managing and certifying such programs often makes them financially inaccessible to small and medium sized producers. Even where such programs are financially accessible, producers and manufacturers in smaller markets often have fewer options to assist with the development and management of a food safety assurance program. For such producers and manufacturers these additional challenges mean that it is more difficult to get the benefits of a food safely assurance program. These benefits include compliance with governmental laws and regulations and accessibility to international markets, lucrative contracts with large-scale food buyers and membership with industry organizations.