I recently attended a roundtable discussion hosted by Mondelēz South Africa in Johannesburg. A panel of experts discussed ways of restoring consumer confidence in food producers, sellers, processes and government regulation. The biggest take away for me was the need for collaboration between governments, producers and consumers to improve food safety during the handling, preparation and storage of food.
South Africa is a signatory to Codex Alimentarius. The body was set up by the Food and Agriculture Organisation and World Health Organisation and sets international standards relating to food production and safety. South Africa also abides by Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP). This is a systematic preventive approach to food safety from biological,
chemical and physical hazards.
The panel agreed the entire food value chain must adhere to the regulations. This includes producers, processors, distributors, consumers, government and NGOs. Regulators and industry have the responsibility to ensure anything that may have been missed is picked up at some point in the chain. While checks and balances may be in place, there is fragmentation due
to the vast number of role players.
The South African food control system is burdened by challenges from a complex and fragmented safety and quality system. Food regulation comes under the jurisdiction of several different departments and acts. In some instances, such as the Foodstuffs, Cosmetics and Disinfectants Act of 1972, legislation is outdated.
When you look at how fragmented operations are, the question should be: ‘What are we doing to communicate better?’ Mondelēz International is advocating a standard of food safety that can be applied across the world. This is especially important in a global economy, where raw material is sourced from one country; products are processed in another, and sold in a third. It’s vital to encourage developing markets to raise the bar and to think about adopting a global approach that leverages science to set standards – even for smaller suppliers. A single approach to food safety is required, involving cooperation, openness and dialogue between the relevant sectors of government and all industry players.
I feel, as I am sure you do too, that efforts from industry are critical in ensuring a food safe environment. I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic. Here is a quick precis on some not to miss articles in this month’s edition. Our focus falls on new ingredients and texture and sensory innovation in the snacks and confectionery sector (page 12). Don’t miss our feature on hygienic equipment and systems impacting the heating and refrigeration market by turning to page 20 now. We also investigate the growing market for beer ingredients and digital systems (page 36) that work towards offering consumers a more
transparently produced and healthier brewski.