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The food industry is forced to face new challenges every day. Hardly any other industry is required to act with the flexibility and foresight of the food industry. Consumer demands for quality and price increase daily and are passed on from the stores to the suppliers. Even with the extensive inspections that are in place, quality defects can remain undetected and even lead to food product scandals in a worst case scenario. This can happen to anyone, and it is beyond the company’s control in most cases. It is therefore essential that companies have a solid crisis management plan in place in order to be prepared for certain risks. According to its definition, a crisis is an unforeseeable turning point at which existential decisions must be made. In order to prevent a crisis from turning into a catastrophe, companies are advised to deal with this topic pragmatically before a crisis actually occurs.
This and other related topics were discussed on 6 March 2014 during the 2nd Eastern Swiss Food Forum at the Weinfelden Town Hall. Safely navigating through tempestuous times was the main area of focus. Around 120 participants from the Swiss food industry and food-related industries considered ways of handling crisis situations well and why it is essential to have preventative measures in place.
A solid crisis management plan includes extensive preparation in the following three phases.
Companies are advised to seek professional assistance in all three phases. This outside assistance is especially important in the areas of law, communication and analysis. It is crucial that companies understand that these areas collectively constitute a good prevention strategy and that they can be important to the very survival of the company both during and after a crisis. Finding a competent partner with a great deal of expertise in their field is a good way to start. Having partners who understand your customers’ internal processes and products so that they can work with you to develop individual solutions is a vital part of a solid crisis management plan.
UFAG Laboratorien AG serves as a competent and reliable partner to food producers in the area of analysis and advises its clients in the areas of food microbiology, food chemistry and food law including labelling and declaration requirements.
Food hygiene is an especially critical area. It is particularly important to test for pathogenic microorganisms such as salmonella, listeria and campylobacter because they pose serious health risks to consumers. Reliable, robust, rapid testing methods are available that allow foods to be proven to be free of pathogenic microorganisms within two work days. Only after a positive result is it necessary to wait for results from parallel testing using the traditional method. Being able to save three working days of time can prove to be invaluable during a crisis.