“I can tell you that we’re constantly undergoing third-party audits, constantly investing capital into food safety,” said Dominic Riggio, president of Riggio Distribution, a Detroit-based distributor formerly known as Aunt Mid Produce Co.
“As an owner, we take that issue very seriously and invest a lot of time, resources and money into it,” he said.
Where food safety is concerned, policy matriculates from attitude, Riggio said.
“It’s something that, when ownership gets behind it with resources, it trickles down to the employees,” he said. “If it’s important for owners, it’s important for everybody.”
Nobody even has to discuss what needs to be done, because procedures are well ingrained in the mentality of the business, Riggio said.
“It’s expected and the new normal part of being in our industry anymore,” he said.
Heeren LLC, a Grand Rapids, Mich.-area wholesaler, moved into a new building outside of town two years ago. Food safety considerations were central in the planning of the new plant, said Jim Heeren, president.
There’s nothing revolutionary about the concept of safety in an industry that always has prioritized the integrity of its product, but good records have become more essential, Heeren said.
“It’s still a big deal when you’re selling to the big guys (chains),” he said.
D.A. Powell, S. Erdozain, C. Dodd, R. Costa, K. Morley, B.J. Chapman
Internal and external food safety audits are conducted to assess the safety and quality of food including on-farm production, manufacturing practices, sanitation, and hygiene. Some auditors are direct stakeholders that are employed by food establishments to conduct internal audits, while other auditors may represent the interests of a second-party purchaser or a third-party auditing agency. Some buyers conduct their own audits or additional testing, while some buyers trust the results of third-party audits or inspections. Third-party auditors, however, use various food safety audit standards and most do not have a vested interest in the products being sold. Audits are conducted under a proprietary standard, while food safety inspections are generally conducted within a legal framework. There have been many foodborne illness outbreaks linked to food processors that have passed third-party audits and inspections, raising questions about the utility of both. Supporters argue third-party audits are a way to ensure food safety in an era of dwindling economic resources. Critics contend that while external audits and inspections can be a valuable tool to help ensure safe food, such activities represent only a snapshot in time. This paper identifies limitations of food safety inspections and audits and provides recommendations for strengthening the system, based on developing a strong food safety culture, including risk-based verification steps, throughout the food safety system.