Expand your range to include regional products

but how do I buy regional products that are food safe?

By Dieuwke van Barneveld

Consumers are giving more and more thought to the origin of the products that they purchase.

 

The result is a growing demand for traditional and/or regional products. More and more often, knowing where your food comes from and what it is made of is becoming the standard. This may concern a product from one’s own surroundings, such as a biscuit from the mill around the corner, or a regional cheese. But it can also be a wine from a wine producer in the M├ędoc, or olive oil from Tuscany, in which the consumer has a clear impression of the origin of the product. This is a favourable development, and a trend that we as the business community must anticipate on by offering lovely regional products alongside the regular range of products.

Handcrafted

 

Most of the producers of these traditional products are small-scale companies. These companies generally have but a few employees and often lack the knowledge or time to build and maintain a HACCP-system. They make products of which the labels do not (yet) comply with the regulation (EU) 1169/2011. For example, it may be that not all of the ingredients in a biscuit are listed, or the nutritional value of a type of cheese is unknown. And the analysis certificates that guarantee the raw material hazards may not be easy to come by as well.

Without a quality system in place

 

Purchasing is becoming increasingly important within the present (GFSI-recognised) quality systems, but combining the strict purchasing policy in accordance with the requirements of the standards and purchasing these regional products seems difficult. Naturally, the responsibility lies first and foremost with the producers and the easiest solution would be to have all of the small companies acquire a GFSI certification. We would then know for sure that a functioning HACCP-system is in place, that the raw material hazards have been identified and that the traceability is guaranteed. But a major quality system of that kind is a huge burden on small companies. Not only in a financial sense, but also in terms of the administration and with that, time.

Whose responsible for the food safety?

 

What it will often boil down to is that we must take the responsibility of guaranteeing the food safety of these products.

Which measures can we take to that end? A few suggestions are given below.

– With respect to guaranteeing the raw material hazards, one option is to approach the suppliers of the products. Too time-consuming? Then there is also the option of having a product tested on your own initiative. You can then be sure that the wine does not contain pesticides, for example.

– Checking the labels. Are all of the ingredients listed, are the allergens specified and are the nutritional values provided?

– A supplier audit is a good way to assess whether the company operates according to HACCP-guidelines. And this also provides an opportunity to give tips that can help the company excel to a higher level.

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