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Kellogg Co.: 2013 Supplier Leadership Award Winner for Food Safety

Kellogg Co.: 2013 Supplier Leadership Award Winner for Food Safety

Linda Pell
Linda Pell

Kellogg Co. updated its food safety practices ahead of the final Food Safety Modernization Act rules with an HACCP-based system that will roll out this month.

The company works with suppliers and retailers to share best practices and ensure food safety.

Compensation for some senior leaders is now linked to food safety performance.

Recalls are always a major concern in the food industry, regardless of whether your company is impacted.

Kellogg Co. reexamined its existing food safety programs top to bottom after large-scale recalls of melamine-tainted soy products in 2008 and peanut butter in 2009 by other companies.

“Food quality and safety has always been a top priority at Kellogg, and we made a decision to challenge all of our existing programs to look for the best practices that would help us drive sustainable improvements to ensure we’re protecting our consumers, our foods and our reputation,” said Linda Pell, vice president, global quality.

A team of 30 leaders from the company’s quality, food safety, operations and legal teams worked together to update Kellogg’s science-based standards, which were then implemented with suppliers and at manufacturing facilities worldwide. Pell said the new food safety policies would provide “a strong foundation” for the impending Food Safety Modernization Act rules.

Also in anticipation of the FSMA rules, Kellogg crafted an internal food safety plan based on Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP) principles that will roll out at the company’s North America and Latin America plants this month.

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Education and training at the plants were crucial parts of executing the new food safety plan, Pell said.

The company works with industry partners and the Food and Drug Administration to make sure it gets the FSMA requirements right.

“Kellogg team members have been very active, along with our industry partners, in Grocery Manufacturers Association working groups to discuss the pending rules with the FDA. We have also visited each of the FDA District Offices in the areas where we have plants to discuss their concerns and gather their insights on FSMA. Talking directly to the regulators charged with enforcing FSMA has helped us better understand the requirements, and in turn educate our plant personnel,” said Pell.

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Pell said Kellogg is confident it is prepared for the final FSMA rules.

While FSMA preparation has been its most notable food safety initiative in recent years, it wasn’t the only aspect of Kellogg’s progress in that area.

The company made a bold move in 2012 by linking compensation for some senior leaders to food safety performance.

“We are measuring food safety performance in two ways: through audits of our manufacturing facilities and through assessments of food safety training programs for employees,” said Pell.

With food safety one of four key priorities for the company in 2012, Kellogg also revamped its policies and training regarding allergens and continued major structural updates at its facilities.

For the latest on science-based food safety research and regulations, Kellogg turns to its Global Scientific Affairs and Emerging Technical Issues teams. The former consists of experts in toxicology, microbiology and food science.

In addition, Kellogg looks for guidance on food safety from outside experts, such as the Global Food Safety Initiative, an industry organization dedicated to improving standards across the supply chain. All of the company’s manufacturing plants, contract manufacturing facilities and ingredient suppliers are certified by a GFSI-approved benchmarking program.

The Kellogg Food Safety Advisory Board, made up of five subject matter experts from academia and external consulting firms, makes recommendations on a regular basis.

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Additionally, for Kellogg’s sanitation training program, the company partnered with the Global Food Protection Institute.

Relationships with suppliers are an important aspect of Kellogg’s food safety programs. The company conducted 917 supplier audits in 2012, including for the first time 134 audits of packaging suppliers.

“Our belief in education, training and capability building also applies to our suppliers. We hold a supplier quality and food safety summit and several webinars annually to roll out new standards and share best practices on quality and food safety,” said Pell.

The 2012 summit focused on Kellogg’s expectations for suppliers in relation to FSMA and included more than 50 of the company’s suppliers.

The Kellogg Company Supplier Code of Conduct, adopted in 2009 and now a part of all supplier contracts, establishes expectations for food safety as well as environmental and health concerns and fair labor practices.

At the other end of the supply chain, Kellogg partners with retailers on food safety initiatives.

“For example, a major supermarket retailer recently visited Kellogg to educate our employees about its GFSI-driven food safety standards within its manufacturing, distribution and retail operations,” said Pell.

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