Risk, however measured and expressed, is a multiple of severity (hazard) and likelihood. For food businesses, the hazard can be to consumers (toxic contaminants) or to brand (legal compliance, fraud and authenticity, emotive contaminants). In either case, the hazard is intrinsic; once known, it can be applied generally to any raw material or product.
The likelihood factor in the risk estimate is much more localised and specific. Farmed prawns are much more likely to contain veterinary drug residues than Atlantic prawns, and those from Vietnam more than those from Thailand.
Factors that drive local risks include
- Regulatory controls in the country of origin
- Visibility and complexity of supply chains
- Production processes; large integrated producers vs aggregated Cottage Industries
- Local weather, pests and diseases
- Commodity market fluctuations, economic incentives for fraud
- Specific combinations of cooking processes, raw materials and/or packaging
It makes no sense to apply the same frequency of Due Diligence testing across the board. Certification and testing frequency should be closely targeted where the risks are highest, and testing concentrated at the most appropriate point of the supply chain. Such micro-management needs detailed knowledge of the ingredients, products and processes, and the involvement of Commercial as well as Technical teams.