Robust food safety systems are critical

Robust food safety systems and compliance to standards are critical as the global population rises and ages, and as food trade increases, making supply chains more complex, says Dr Roy Kirby.

Dr. Roy Kirby*, global director of food safety at Mondelēz, will give a keynote presentation on ‘Food safety management in the food and beverage industry’ on the second day of the European Hygienic Engineering & Design Group (EHEDG) World Congress, which takes place in London on 21-22 November 2018 during Food Matters Live.

Food safety related outbreaks can have far reaching consequences for everyone concerned across the supply chain, says Kirby, who is also a Board Member of the Global Food Safety Initiative. Singular events of foodborne disease outbreak can cause both devastating consequences for consumers, including loss of life; and notable reputational and economic losses for businesses. Some examples of direct and indirect economic losses include – but are not limited to – the cost of recall, product destruction, share price impact and time loss due to operational shut down, he adds.

More food safety outbreaks

A globalised food trade, extensive production and complex supply chains are factors that contribute toward an increased number of microbiological food safety outbreaks, explains Kirby.

With the anticipated doubling of the global demand for food and international trade over the next few decades, it is expected that this will drive an increase in foodborne disease incidence, he says. A factor contributing to the expected increase in foodborne disease, but not often considered, is that of growing and ageing populations. “The young and elderly are higher risk consumers along with pregnant women and the infirm,” he points out.

“In addition to the increasing demand, one of the global megatrends that impact the food industry is consumer empowerment,” Kirby suggests. “Technology has made access to information easier for consumers and as they become more knowledgeable, their increasing demands raise the bar for brand manufacturers continuously.

“Additionally, Mintel’s 2018 report specifies a general mistrust of food safety throughout manufacturing and supply chains by consumers.”

Technological advances

Advances in analytical technologies and genomics are set to improve food safety by making great strides in surveillance, he suggests.

“However, harmonisation of applications in the global market present multiple challenges, with regards to policy, technology and operations,” he warns.

“Such a multitude of challenges can only be addressed by an international and multidisciplinary community of researchers, public health practitioners, and other stakeholders. Some elements of successful food safety systems implementation include technical robustness, food safety centric culture, horizon scanning and management commitment.

“In the manufacturing industry, implementation of robust food safety systems and compliance to standards is critical to ensuring business success and fostering international trade.”

He adds: “Inspiring trust and confidence of our consumers is at the very heart of Mondelēz food safety systems. We focus strongly on proactive, preventative programmes to ensure the highest possible confidence levels in our consumers.”

* Biography

Roy Kirby has a PhD in microbiology and over 20 years’ fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) experience in technical areas, including product safety, regulatory compliance and corporate social responsibility.

He began his career in academia as a lecturer of food microbiology at the Catholic University of Portugal in the Faculty of Biotechnology, where he launched new undergraduate and post-graduate courses. From there he moved into the FMCG arena, starting at HJ Heinz as a microbiology manager, quickly moving up to holding senior safety roles at Unilever and SC Johnson. He has also held the positon of head of quality management at the European Food Safety Authority for more than four years.