Food Safety: Industry Call to Arms
GE Intelligent Platforms recently had the opportunity to sponsor the Food Safety Summit in Baltimore, which enabled us to introduce the keynote speaker, Will Daniels, the Sr. VP of Operations and Organic Integrity of Earthbound Farms. The keynote speech was attended by many —there was standing room only. Mr. Daniels spoke very candidly about the nature of the history of the food safety program at Earthbound Farms—many will remember the E. coli outbreak associated with spinach. He touched on how they have developed their food safety program since.
He then provocatively challenged the industry, media, academia and regulators to work closer together to solve the food safety issues that are affecting the industry. He added that “we must stop thinking that it is okay to roll the risk-aversion dice in an effort to save money.” In a nutshell, he basically made a call to action to the industry. They plan to invite their competition into their facility to show what they’ve been working on because in their eyes, food safety is not a competitive advantage.
I also heard a similar message in April at the Grocery Manufacturers Association Science Forum; a representative from Cargill mentioned in their presentation that Food Safety is a pre-competitive issue and that we should collaborate as an industry to mitigate risk.
By leveraging big data and analytics, manufacturers can move away from being reactive to being predictive. More and more, food and beverage manufacturers are starting the conversations and sharing thought leadership publicly in the way of food safety and what their processes and data are telling them. Food safety is not a “secret sauce.”
What are you hearing from other food and beverage manufacturers?
For me personally, as I pass through the aisles at Costco, it brings comfort to me that when I pick up that plastic container of Earthbound Farms baby spinach, I know they are truly committed to protecting their consumers – ME!