By Linda Bryan
Chief Executive Officer
In most commentaries, it’s not a good idea to reveal your conclusion before you’ve already made a compelling case for your argument.
But in this instance, it’s going be different.
Right from the beginning, I want to say “Farm to Fork Safety” isn’t just an industry term. In fact, it’s a critical necessity everyone needs to grasp—not just people who make their livings in the food supply chain, but also the end consumers who ultimately eat the products we work so hard to bring to their tables.
Yet, despite a deluge of compliance regulations to help ensure food is safe and consumers are protected against food-borne illness, achieving farm to fork safety is far from easy—or 100% guaranteed each and every time.
It’s because the food supply chain is a complex network of many different players. No matter how diligent or safety-conscious one—or even several—different suppliers may be, if just one provider fails to meet safety standards, contamination is a very real problem. So is the potential for food-borne illness.
Safety from Farm to Fork, Protection from Fork to Farm
Unfortunately, the ability to ensure farm to fork safety isn’t getting any easier. It’s actually getting much more challenging. Scientific advancements continue to discover new ways to identify potential sources of food contamination.
Take, for example, recent advancements in the study of whole genome sequencing in food bacteria. These advancements now make it possible to trace the source of food-borne illness farther back than ever before—in some cases, even years ago.
It’s certainly good news, but it’s not going to make farm to fork safety for food companies easier to guarantee—at least not in the beginning. When consumer safety is at risk, and science continues to find new ways to identify harmful food pathogens, every advancement will have a tangible impact on our industry, and will (or at least should) require some form of change. In some cases, regulatory agencies could even mandate significant modifications in how food safety programs are structured.
In the long run, compliance schemes to ensure farm to fork safety aren’t going to be something only the top food companies can guarantee. I truly believe it will become an industry imperative for every provider in the food supply chain. And the day when it happens might be sooner than we think.