Are you claiming to be something you’re not?

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Welcome to Episode 41 of HACCP Mentor Review

Thanks for checking out Episode 41 of HACCP Mentor Review. In this episode we take a look at product claims made on food packaging, garbage skips bins and how to apply document control to excel spreadsheets.

Product Claims

Product claims are becoming more and more popular as food manufacturers seek a business advantage over competitors, satisfy corporate vision statement or to meet the particular needs of a food consumer niche. It seems that the marketing department love to be able to make claims on the product packaging and labels – but is your food business claiming something that it is not?

Requirements for product claims made by you food business are covered under the certification by the major GFSI recognised standards. Product claims can be grouped into the following:

  • Nutritional – eg. high protein, low fat, low carb, high calcium, no added sugar
  • Health related – eg Good source of omega 3, Multigrain, Diabetic, Gluten Free
  • Religious – eg. Kosher, HALAL
  • Ethical – eg fair trade, workforce labour issues, sustainable palm oil, free range
  • Provenance – statements of origin, Grown in, made in

Whatever product claim your food business makes on your product packaging you have to be able to verify the claim in addition to having a good working knowledge of relevant regulatory requirements in your country of manufacture and any country that you may export to. If you make false or misleading food product claims you may find your business faced with some hefty court action and financial impacts.

Examples of False and Misleading Food Product Claims

In April 2009, Kellogg Company in the USA, agreed to a settlement of $4million dollars after they were charged by US Federal Trade Commission with making a false advertising claim on their Frosted Mini-Wheats cereal. The claim stated that the product was “clinically shown to improve kids’ attentiveness by nearly 20%”.

More recently, a game farm located in Australia was recently fined over A$20,000 after it made claims on its product packaging and its business website that their birds were “range reared”, when in fact they were grown in commercial sheds with no access to the outdoors.

Baiada, another Australian based company, made a similar claim stating that its birds were free to roam in large barns. $400,000 in civil pecuniary penalties were ordered to be paid in this case of false and misleading advertising.

Now is a good time to have a look at the product claims that you make on any of your products. For each product, map the evidence and records that supports the claim and have this information on file. You can do this by undertaking a mini food audit of the product claim.

Raw material risk assessments

I have had a fair bit of interest for further training on how to undertake a raw material risk assessment. If you haven’t already registered your interest you can do that by clicking the link called ‘raw material risk assessment training’ in the show notes to this episode.

Garbage skips and pests

This week’s action item is to go outside and check that lids on external garbage skips are closed. Pests are attracted to uncontrolled waste so having lids closed on these bins can dramatically reduce pests, especially birds around your food premises. Another quick thing to check is if you cannot shut the lids due to excessive amount of waste build-up, it is time to review the frequency that theses garbage or recycling skips get emptied.

How to control HACCP documents produced in excel spreadsheets How to apply document control to excel spreadsheets

I know document control is not the most exciting thing you have to deal with in your food business however is really underpins the structure of a good HACCP food safety and quality system. When I audit, there seems to be one type of document that is regularly found not to have any document control – the excel spreadsheet. Excel spreadsheets are a great document platform to use but you just have to remember to apply document control to any documents produced in this format. If you are unsure how to do this, I have made a short video to show you how.

Share your feedback

If you found any of the topics discussed in this episode useful, please feel free to share with your colleagues. You can also share different product claims that your food business has by leaving a comment below this episode. Until next time, I am Amanda Evans from www.haccpmentor.com

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