Food safety is receiving unprecedented attention in the marketplace and in the public policy arena today. It is easy to see why: the Centers for Disease Control and Protection report that about 48 million people, or one in six Americans, suffer from food-borne illness every year; 128,000 people are hospitalized and 3,000 die. Yet foodborne illnesses are largely preventable. Food safety and quality are assumed requirements for any major food company in the industry today. It is a given that we will dedicate every resource to ensuring that our consumers are protected from foodborne illnesses, allergens or other health and safety concerns. We know that if we aren’t diligent in our food safety processes, there are significant financial and reputational implications that could be devastating.
We closely monitor our product safety throughout the entire value chain — from the moment ingredients are harvested on the farm to the minute finished products leave our distribution centers. As we strive to implement continuous improvement, our quality control systems are kept up to date with the most modern technology, while meeting the industry’s highest standards for quality assurance.
We have a long history of regulatory compliance, as well as quality standards and policies that are industry-leading and global in approach. We require these standards of our own facilities, as well as of our contract manufacturers and suppliers abroad. In 2015, we kept a close watch on the latest food safety trends and research, shared best practices with peers as a leading member of the Grocery Manufacturers Association and maintained our commitment to Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) certification for all of our manufacturing facilities.
Our products are only as safe as the individual ingredients used in them. That’s why we invest in supplier engagement around ingredient safety. We collaborate directly with our suppliers, packaging companies and co-manufacturers to ensure that our product ingredients and packaging materials are safe and that quality controls match our stringent standards.
To maintain these relationships, we work with our partners to help align their operations with new rules and regulations in food safety and quality standards. Our Supply Base Requirements and Expectations Manual, updated on a regular basis, outlines our strict safety and quality requirements. Suppliers are subject to occasional comprehensive audits so that we can make certain our high standards are being followed. We also use preventive control systems like the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) and prerequisite programs, at both our facilities and supplier facilities.
Food Safety Modernization Act
Under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) of 2011, foreign suppliers are required to verify that their food safety systems and programs meet U.S. standards before their products are permitted to enter U.S. commerce. We use a worldwide mapping system of our supply base to review and monitor sourced product ingredients and track supplier performance and compliance. In 2015, new requirements were added under the FSMA, creating stricter guidelines on preventive controls, produce safety and foreign supplier verification and third-party auditors.
In order to protect those consumers who have allergies to certain ingredients, a priority in the manufacturing process is to minimize the risk of allergens ending up in food products by mistake. Food allergens at Campbell facilities are regulated using strict internal controls that safeguard our consumers against any cross-contact with unintended ingredients. Our data system is designed to maintain the accuracy of label ingredient statements and allergen disclosures, and our own advanced coding and scanning technology verifies individual packages for labeling accuracy, allergen control and product traceability. Some of the food allergens that Campbell monitors include fin fish, peanuts, wheat, shellfish, tree nuts, soy protein, eggs, sesame seeds, dairy protein and gluten.
Our goal for food safety and quality is zero tolerance for variance, and we maintain robust standards and controls to eliminate and avoid hazards. However, we are always prepared to take swift action when and if we suspect that the safety of a product is compromised or at any degree of risk. For any class of food safety incident, our crisis management team responds swiftly, working in tandem with the appropriate regulatory agency and internal teams to initiate a recall process. In this process, consumers are alerted about the safety concern, and we take steps to remove the product immediately from store warehouses and shelves. Working through protocols established by government agencies around the world, Campbell teams provide regular updates to the agencies on the scope and status of any product recall. During the execution of any recall, we will provide ongoing support to consumers and our retail trade customers to address any questions and concerns they may have. After a recall, Campbell implements an in-depth root-cause analysis to take the necessary corrective actions.
Our Global Quality and Food Safety organization focuses its efforts not only on prevention but also on continuous improvement of its programs. Each year, the organization works diligently to build stronger and more effective food safety and quality systems. We work continuously to fine-tune our systems and practices to ensure not only strict adherence to our policies and standards, but also to our ongoing objective of getting every aspect of product quality “right the first time.” The organization sets measurable goals from year to year, and, in FY2015, consumer complaints and incident rates were driven down. Our quality teams have fostered an exacting food safety mindset across our businesses, and these efforts are showing measurable and sustainable results in auditing, statistical process monitoring and supplier oversight. By maintaining a focus on continuous improvement, we can effectively manage risk, while delivering excellent products to our customers.