Food supplier verification forms an important part of your overall food safety program. As a food business, you need to ensure that the raw materials or food ingredients that you are provided, are not coming to compromise your own product. In this article, find out common food supplier verification activities that you can implement in your business.
This is one of the easiest, quickest and cheapest ways to confirm that your food supplier has benchmarked systems in place to ensure food safety. I recommend using suppliers that have GFSI recognized 3rd party food certification in place. When you request this document from your food supplier, make sure that you check the following things:
- Scope of the certification. Does it relate to the raw material or ingredient that is sold to you?
- Expiry date. Is the certificate current?
- Location. Does the site address match the business that you procure your materials from?
- Certification credentials. Is the certificate issued by a reputable certification body. You can check to see if they are approved to issue the certification on behalf of the GFSI scheme identified e.g. SQF, BRC, FSSC22000
Sampling and testing
Incoming raw materials can be sampled and tested by your food business to ensure that it meets specification. Depending on the type of raw material, tests can be preformed for microbiological parameters, chemical contaminates and allergenic status. Testing may be performed in-house or sampled for external laboratory analysis. You may also require your food supplier to provide certificate of analysis (COA) with each delivery.
Food Supplier Audit
If you have the correct skill and knowledge, you may choose to perform a 2nd party audit on your food supplier. The decision to audit should be based on risk. The availability of skilled competent auditors should also be considered. Time also needs to be considered for both you and your food supplier. If you are looking to brush up on your internal auditing skills, check out my internal auditors course by clicking here.
Requesting key food safety documentation from your food supplier can help you to verify certain compliance information. These can include food safety controls applied, product specifications and potential hazards. Take the time to also research product recall databases along with government compliance alerts. These sources can provide food safety compliance insights into your food suppliers business.
When raw materials enter your food business incoming checks should be made. These can include, where relevant, product temperatures, identification & traceability, environmental contamination of external surfaces and packaging condition. Any non-conformance should be included as part of your supplier review process.
Depending on where you are located, there may be legal requirements to undertake food supplier verification activities. If you are based in the US or supply to the US market, legal obligations are outlined in FSMA Final Rule for Preventive Controls for Human Food.
What do you do?
How do you verify that your food suppliers are doing the right thing? What procedures do you have in place to ensure the provision of safe raw materials into your food business. Share with the HACCP Mentor community by leaving a comment below.