Supplier Management – Following on from Horsegate

There were many horse jokes and puns, but for those retailers and restaurants being grilled about their supply chains and having to issue apologies over the ‘horse meat’ scandal, it was no laughing matter.

There have been many instances of fraud and it seems that retailers were unaware of what they were being supplied with. One Polish supplier involved was not on the retailers approved list and many companies are now forced to look more closely at their supply chains.

The supplier approval and monitoring process has to be methodical and continually look at current information. Some of the supply chains are complex and this needs to be included in the risk assessment process. The risk of fraud needs to be included in HACCP programmes e.g. in the supplier management prerequisite.

Companies should look to quantify some of the potential risks in their supply contracts by making sure the contract contains clauses that clarify responsibilities and recompense if the worst should happen.

Ensuring the whole supply chain (rather than just the first tier in many cases) is certified to GFSI standards should also be encouraged. In the BRC6 standard for Food Safety there is now a requirement of a documented risk assessment of raw materials as the basis for establishing raw material supplier approval and sampling regimes. There is also the unannounced audit option which could be stipulated in contracts.

The risk assessment process needs to be documented including supplier questionnaires with details of the supply chain process and how suppliers manage their suppliers.  Automation of traceability should enable data to be tracked on raw materials before they go into a batch.

Here’s a checklist that you might find useful: Supplier Audit Checklist.pdf

With all these efforts put together and the simplification of supply chains hopefully the industry can regain consumer confidence.

Karen Czarnota, IFST’s Consultancy Group


Originally published here – July 2013

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