Food industry clients range from large branded and own-label manufacturers to start-up companies and SMEs. As an active member of the IFST Scientific Committee, John has written many IFST guidance papers both for food industry Technical Managers and for small businesses.
Help for start-up businesses and new product launches
We can guide your new businesses to market; particularly safety management considerations for unusual products and enterprises. We design solutions that fit your business, your risks and your budget. Examples include
- Roadmaps from concept to launch (lists of tasks and checks needed for legal compliance and safety assurance)
- basic HACCP approach
- ingredient assessment (legality and risks)
- process assessment (risks and risk management)
- labelling (legality, health claims, warnings)
- Analytical testing – where does it add value, and where does it not
Helping large and established businesses
John’s experience cuts accross categories in the own-label food manufacturing supply chain. He has worked with companies to review over-complex legacy food safety management systems and to implement new policies or retailer requirements.
- Design of risk-based testing programmes for raw materials and products (contaminants, authenticity, allergens)
- TACCP and VACCP risk assessment and risk management
- Choice of appropriate test methods and interpretation of results
- Audit and audit preparation (BRC8; ISO22000)
- Control of Allergens
- Management of outsourced testing programmes
- Training in authenticity/chemical safety topics
- Food safety incident control and management
1 Tracking down an allergen
An ingredient manufacturer was in danger of losing a supply contract because their customer had detected an unexplained allergen. John was able to use his auditing, chemistry and laboratory experience to critically assess the entire end-to-end process. He reviewed both the laboratory analysis and the supply chain from top to bottom. He hypothesised, then challenged and eliminated, a variety of reasons for this unexpected test result. These included cross-contamination at various sites, an artefact of processing, and an artefact of the laboratory test method. He was able to show, in a credible and understandable written investigation, that cross-contamination was highly unlikely and that there was a negligible risk to consumers. On the basis of his report the ingredient manufacturer was able to satisfy their customer that they had investigated thoroughly and were not likely to be introducing an unsafe allergen. They retained their contract.
2 Risk-Based Testing Schemes
The food industry is highly aware of risks from chemical contaminants, adulteration, and fraudulent provenance claims. There is a desire to “do some testing”.
It is difficult to decide which parameters to test, at what point in the supply chain, with what sampling frequency, and how those samples should be selected. It is impossible and undesirable to test everything. Analytical spot-checks should be targeted in a risk-based manner.
A UK retailer had a legacy of different policies and specifications for different chemical issues in their own-label supply chain. Many of these had been introduced in reaction to past incidents or concerns (e.g. pesticides, mycotoxins, heavy metals, meat speciation, allergens). They mandated prescriptive testing frequencies. These testing frequencies were an unsuitable one-size-fits-all for the whole business. Other issues, such as process contaminants, origin authenticity and packaging migration, were not covered by specific policies. Their suppliers were spending a lot of money on testing, with the suspicion that some issues were over-tested in a formulaic manner whilst others were being missed.
John worked with suppliers across the business to build a comprehensive code of practice for risk-based specifications, certification, sampling and testing of chemical and compositional parameters. It included worked examples for over 100 raw materials and manufacturing processes, best-practice examples, and lists of risk-factors. John supported the roll-out of the code of practice, gaining a high level of buy-in from both small and large suppliers.