Food safety, government regulations, and brand protection

Every year, approximately 40,000 cases of salmonellosis are reported in the United States and about 600 people die of it, according to the CDC. By Predrag Jakovljevic and Olin Thompson of Lawson Software

The US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) also reports that as many as 76 million illnesses are caused by food contamination every year in the US. In addition to the public cost, the impact of food safety lapses can be devastating within the food industry. While many food industry executives think of regulatory penalties as a risk, the major risks are potential shut downs or, even worst, more permanent damage to brands and companies. The news media of today is attuned to food safety stories. They know that food safety stories sell a lot of newspapers and generate a lot of TV viewers. Does the consumer care? A survey of the United Kingdom (UK) consumers conducted by the UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) revealed that 71 percent of consumers were concerned about food safety while only 16 percent were not.

Many food companies are investing significant money and effort to build awareness for their brands in the market, which strategy can pay-off amply in competitive, commodity markets. One highly publicized recall and the negative image generated in the media, however, can turn an established brand asset into a liability.

Nervous consumers can cause distributors and brokers to…

Beating the fraudsters

In the fight against food fraud, greater intelligence sharing amongst food agencies will be key to ensuring standards are met and rule-breakers brought to justice.

Picture the scene. It is London in 1820. Bakers are mixing dough with chalk and plaster to make loaves whiter and heavier. Brewers are using strychnine to make beer taste bitter. Confectioners are using poisonous lead and mercury salts to make sweets brightly coloured and more attractive to children. It’s a great time to be an enterprising food producer with questionable scruples, but probably not such a pleasurable period for the poor consumers subjected to hazardous substances on a daily basis.


Fast-forward two centuries and things have, thankfully, changed for the better. Standards have done much to improve the quality of the food we eat, ensuring there are no nasty surprises hidden away in the ingredients cupboard; and swift prosecution of transgressions has led to increased confidence in the safety (and legitimacy) of the food chain. Organisations such as the Food Standards Agency in the UK and the European Food Safety Authority have worked tirelessly in this regard.

Nevertheless, food fraud does still exist – recent high-profile cases include vodka being diluted with industrial methylated spirits and problems with the supply of rotten poultry to certain supermarkets – and stopping such illegal practices is critical to minimising public health risks……