How to manage food business supply during an emergency

During times of crisis, there can be many considerations that need to be made when it comes to food safety compliance.  One area of concern may be the ability for your approved suppliers to continue the supply of your required raw materials. If supply is compromised emergency suppliers will need to be sourced.

Designating Emergency Suppliers

Hopefully, you have prepared well for many different types of emergencies, disasters or adverse events. At a minimum, your business should have a contingency plan documented. As part of this planning process, alternate suppliers should have been identified.  The last thing you need to be doing when an emergency hits is to be running around looking for raw materials and negotiating an alternate supply chain.

Selecting an Emergency Supplier

When selecting the emergency supplier for a particular raw material, start firstly with the purpose and role of the raw material you are looking to replace. In this situation, we are not just talking about raw food ingredients. We need to consider other consumables that we use to implement food safety. Here are some examples:

A good understanding of the ‘intended use’ of each raw material or consumable will greatly assist when deciding the appropriateness of any replacement.

Sourcing Emergency Supplies

You may find that sourcing an alternative raw material to be most difficult during an emergency. The best place to start is to ask your current supplier if they can make any recommendations. If they cannot help, you may need to think outside the box and turn to retail supply options or even online suppliers.

Complying with your Approved Supplier Program

If you are certified against a GFSI standard you will still need to comply with your audit standard. Ensure that any emergency suppliers are logged, specifications are obtained (if possible) and your normal receival procedures are implemented.  This includes recording any relevant batch codes, expiry dates or emergency supplier manufacturing codes.

Sometimes ‘beggars cannot be choosers’ during an emergency but still try and get as much information as possible and ensure that the replacement will not present an adverse risk to your finished product.

Share your thoughts

Have you got any tips for managing suppliers during an emergency? Share your thoughts with the HACCP Mentor community by leaving a comment below.

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