How to review your approved food suppliers

Your approved food suppliers can have a critical impact on your food business. Although you cannot completely affect what they do behind closed doors, you can however implement review strategies to lessen your raw material risk. Welcome to session 8 of the HACCP Mentor series on Food Safety HACCP Compliance 101: How do I comply with that?  In this session we take a look at four (4) strategies to review your approved food suppliers.

1.  Supply performance

One of the easiest ways to monitor the performance of your approved food suppliers to inspect the raw materials during the receival, storage and production process.  Some common checks include product temperature, condition of outer packaging, raw material characteristics (like moisture, presence of allergens), presence of pests and foreign matter and cleanliness of delivery vehicles.

If issues are found, you can then take task with your approved food suppliers. Just remember, you can’t expect to make a safe and quality product from contaminated or sub-standard raw materials.

2.  Complete your own audit

The option to preform your own second party audit on your approved food supplier is our next review strategy. This can be an excellent chance to see GMP in person and how it can impact your raw materials. This option does however come with its downsides. It may not be a viable option due to cost, time or experience.  Also think how you would feel if all of your customers were constantly performing internal audits on your food business.

Click here for approved supplier program resources

3.  Third party certification

Third party certification is one of the most common methods used to review approved food suppliers. It involves having the supplier provide a copy of their current HACCP or GFSI certificate. When reviewing this certificate make sure that it has not expired, the supplier location is valid, the certifying body is reputable and more importantly the certification scope is relevant to the raw materials supplied to your food business.

4.  Approved food supplier questionnaires

Questionnaires are used to gather food safety, food quality and product information from your approved food supplier. Keep in mind the relevance of the questions that you are asking and also the time it takes to complete these questionnaires. All food safety and QA managers are busy so again, think how it would feel if all of your customers required you to fill out a 20-page questionnaire asking information that could easily be captured via a third party audit.

How to you review your approved food suppliers?

Which method do you use? Maybe a combination of all four? Please share your review method by leaving a comment below.

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7 thoughts on “How to review your approved food suppliers”

  1. We require 3rd Party Certification and we review Supply Performance by inspecting product, reviewing COA’s upon receipt and reviewing any vendor notifications or complaints we may have had over the last 6 months with the vendor/product.
    I will say one of the challenges with a few of the companies is getting an updated copy of the 3rd Party Certification.
    One thing we are going to start soon is to request a statement on any COA’s or BOL’s that the product provided does meet current Specifications with the date of the approved spec. This is due to the new Allergen Guidelines that USDA put out for our industry. Hopefully this will help them and us to ensure nothing was changed in the ingredients or process without our knowledge. Although we do verify the ingredients statements of any incoming raw materials.

    1. A very easy solution would be to also make your HACCP certificates and finished product specifications available for download on your company website. Customers can then easily get this information.

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