Volume 18   |   Issue 4   |   December 2016

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Greenhouse Gas Emissions

What does an effective Food Safety Program mean to Sustainability?

Letter from the Editor

Sustainability Resources

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What does an effective Food Safety Program mean to Sustainability?

In food safety, third party accreditations are more the norm now versus the exception.  Customers of food manufacturers simply will not do business with them if they do not have the proper accreditations or are not working toward them. Third party accreditations, such as SQF or BRC, show that a food manufacturer is meeting the highest standards in food manufacturing.  Many customers are also moving away from doing business with suppliers that do not have a sustainability program in place.  So what does a great rating in third party accreditation mean to sustainability?  And how does that tie in with an effective food safety program?  

I have focused on a real customer, but in the interest of space, I have only highlighted a few examples of sustainable solutions. The customer had just had their SQF certification audit and passed it with flying colors.  Most areas scored within the audit had perfect scores.  So how did an effective food safety program contribute to their high audit scores and bring them sustainable benefits? 

There are three areas of sustainability: people, planet and profit. 

People: A thorough training program had been completed, with training manuals, documentation of training, training signatures, employees’ quiz results, and all were dated and available in one location.  A proper food safety training program contributes to the people leg of sustainability by properly training the very people that contribute to ensuring the nation’s food supply is safe by not only keeping the employee safe but our food supply safe.

Planet: An effective food safety program contributes to the planet leg of sustainability.  If incorrect chemicals are used in the cleaning process or in the wrong concentrations, the program is not effective. Overuse of the wrong chemical or dispensing the chemical incorrectly creates negative effects on the environment.  Adding excessive chemical to the waste stream results in added cost to remove them prior to discharge, or worse, fines for exceeding waste discharge permit limits.  This customer had the right chemicals and dispensing equipment in place to contribute to their accreditation, but also prevented unnecessary waste to the environment, thus contributing to their sustainability program.

Profit:  There are many examples that can be used for improving the profit leg of sustainability if you are managing the people and planet legs effectively.   A trained employee is more efficient and effective on the job, thus reducing the risk of accidents such as chemical spills. They miss less days of work because of safety issues, and are usually more fulfilled which reduces costs of turnover.  Using the right combination of chemicals and using an effective dispensing system, not only reduces the carbon footprint but also prevents the costs associated with overusing chemicals, potentially exposing employees to large doses of chemicals, or in the case of underuse, not properly cleaning, thus resulting in the potential for food recalls or lawsuits.  An efficient food safety program also reduces the amount of hot water used thus saving on water, sewer and energy bills.

So what does an effective food safety program mean to sustainability?  It means a tremendous amount.  This customer not only met their goal of SQF certification, but also met a number of sustainability objectives that they can share with their customers through their annual sustainability report.