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Although legal requirements pertaining to the quality of raw materials are becoming more stringent, reality is proving to be very different. The average level of quality is actually decreasing because international purchasing now involves new risks.
Food scandals are having an unsettling effect on consumer trust in food safety. Because of the costs involved cheaper raw materials and products, which do not correspond to the quality standards that apply in Switzerland, are increasingly being used.
As a result of past food scandals and to remove trade barriers, Q-systems have been introduced to certify every stage of the flow of goods from producer to distributor.
At an international level, pressure from distributors has led to the development of the EurepGAP (GAP: Good Agricultural Practice) quality standard for agricultural production with the aim of applying a globally harmonised quality standard. The SwissGAP association was founded in Switzerland in 2003.
The British Retail Consortium (BRC) Standard and International Food Standard (IFS) were developed in the food industry with the aim of increasing safety in the supply chain by means of a global benchmarking system.
Increasing cost pressure is causing many food producers to work with cheaper suppliers of raw materials who are unaware of or not in a position to guarantee substantial surveillance.
The certificates issued are often inadequate in respect of contemporary Q-systems.
In order for a laboratory to perform approved analyses, accreditation in accordance with ISO 17025 and recognition of the standards required by EurepGAP and SwissGAP are necessary.
Analytical surveillance based on recognised standards remains a central tool in terms of food safety, for the safety of food producers.
Please read Stephan Reber’s article on this topic in the latest edition of Lebensmittel Industrie (issue 7/8 2007).
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