Are you at risk of a food safety breach?

Food safety is the number 1 priority from any food manufacturer. A breach can have huge repercussions for the company, their staff and the public. Financial implications, health concerns, and brand reputation are all in jeopardy depending on the breach. With the potential for an offence to be a case of life and death and leading to a fine ranging from £100 to £3 million, it is an issue that must be taken seriously for all concerned in the business.

Reasons for Product Recalls

The recent voluntary product recall by Cow& Gate and Tesco was instigated due to a potential risk of tampering with a range of their baby food products. Without further detail, it is assumed the term ‘tampering’ is being used to deflect from naming any individual or process that has faltered.

Whether it be issues with sterilisation or the X-ray processes being non-compliant, once the issue was identified a well-practised and well-versed process has been implemented by the team to notify all those involved, from staff to distributors, the media and public with a clear statement and instructions shared.

Taking swift and immediate proactive action is always the preferred route of handling any food safety breach.

Another high-profile breach we’ve seen an increase of is that of food labelling. Research compiled by law firm PRC found recalls of unsafe food products increased by 40% in 2018, driven by concerns over poorly labelled items causing allergy related deaths. The devastating case of 15 year old Natasha    Ednan-Laperouse who died from eating a sandwich containing sesame seeds bought from Pret a Manger was a stark reminder of the importance of food labelling and as a result of the campaigning by Natasha’s parents, the law will change in 2021 requiring food businesses to include full ingredients and allergen labelling on prepackaged foods.

Breaches can occur at any stage of the process. From inadequate machinery guarding and staff injury, to the production line and packaging errors, regular risk assessments, due diligence reporting and a constant review of process and systems are required to ensure the safety of the public and workforce is paramount. It can often be simple measures that can be implemented to prevent injury such as the case with the 2 Sisters Group who were found guilty of a breach that led to a staff member sustaining life threating injuries.

Food Safety Protocol Review

With the Food Standards Agency issuing a product recall more often than any of us would like, it does suggest there is more that we can do as an industry to prevent breaches in food safety. Whether it’s out of date machinery being used in the detection process, or equipment being used incorrectly organisations, can make simple changes to improve their systems. As a food engineering support service, we have vast experience of managing production lines and implementing and developing food safety protocols.

We are a food engineering support service operating nationally for food and drink manufacturers. If we can support you develop or review your food safety protocols to help avoid breaches please get in touch.


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