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Are You Committed?

Are You Committed?

In the 1960s, rock legend Jimi Hendrix asked, "Are you experienced?" I won't speculate on what he was alluding to, but I'm not sure I ever qualified. At the Supply Chain Conference today, Vanessa Broadnax, manager of quality control, manufacturing, for Meijer, asked an audience of supply chain professionals a different question, "Are you committed?" She was referring to food safety, something that she is very committed to and something the food manufacturing and distribution industry needs to be more committed to.

In a dynamic and rousing presentation, Broadnax (left, in photo), who shared the stage with Meijer colleague Bob Mooney, group vice president, distribution and manufacturing (right), went into some detail about how Meijer is pursuing SQF (Safe Quality Food) certification for its manufacturung and wholesaling facilities. Her basic message was, to paraphrase Edison, food safety is 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration. You need to wake up every day with a zeal to make sure your food supply is safe for your customers and their families--which is also to say, for you and your family.

The remarkable spate of recalls the industry has experienced inn recent years is forcing retailers and suppliers to take this food safety thing a lot more seriously. At a later panel discussion today, representatives of Campbell Soup, Kellogg, Harris-Teeter, Associated Food Stores and GS1 US all addressed how their organizations are stepping up their food safety efforts. They are all to be applauded. But what I haven't heard anyone truly address is--why we are seeing so many more recalls than we did in the past? I think the industry needs to look at the underlying issues leading to all these recalls in addition to taking the steps that Meijer and the others are taking to secure their facilities and communicate recall messages better.

Are the manufacturing, farming and food processing processes themselves in serious need of examination and rework? My sense is, yes they are.