The more in ingredient or additive is handled, the greater the risk that a critical attribute or quality may be at risk of quality non-conformance. Quality non-conformances may or may not involve food safety, but when the end user is forced to make a decision on whether to allow an ingredient to be used despite a risk, that end user will likely take the conservative approach and ask that the at-risk component or product be destroyed. Often times, the ingredient that an end-user receives has been sourced, handled, processed or otherwise impacted by multiple resources.
The safety risks associated with each food ingredient or raw material vary based on multiple factors. However, one factor that is not always considered in a risk assessment is “how many different parties were involved with the sourcing, manufacturing and distribution” of the material. Often, suppliers of food ingredients source complex “intermediate” subcomponents from a second party and then pass that plus other components on to a contract manufacturer for processing. In some cases, a supplier will purchase an ingredient from their vendor, receive the ingredient or component, remove the original manufacturer or supplier-branded labels and placards, replace them with their own custom labels and then supply that ingredient to the end user. Although this does by itself generate a problem, the food safety and suitability risk potential increases with process complexity.
In some situations, ingredient suppliers will be forthcoming and transparent about where they get their ingredient and how many intermediate “hands” were involved with sourcing, manufacture and distribution. In other cases, such as with complex flavors, colors and proprietary functional additives, suppliers are known to withhold second-party handling or processing and decline to disclose information. The less information that the end user has access to, the greater the risk that upstream safety and quality issues may not have been satisfactorily known, resolved and controlled.
EHA provides support to food ingredient end-user clients and food ingredient manufacturers alike. Our experts are trained to evaluate the safety and integrity of each step in an ingredients sourcing, manufacturing and distribution process. We guide supplier and end users alike in best, safe practices in order to control risk and provide transparency to communicate risk mitigation to end users.