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28 July 2017 - Quality Manager Boonstra on food safety: ‘Unannounced audits yield major results’ (Corporate News)

Food safety is the no. 1 priority at Sonneveld. It was one of the first companies in Netherlands to allow unannounced audits. Sonneveld wants to meet the highest food-safety standards at all times, under all conditions. ‘That is a big task,’ says quality manager Maarten Boonstra. ‘We work with lots of different raw materials and suppliers. 0% risk doesn’t exist, but we come very close with systems and continuous monitoring.’

Another important system is Riskplaza Audit+ system. On top of the food-safety certificate we already hold, in our case BRC. The whole bakery world works with it. Riskplaza Europe is a database with information on the safety of ingredients. Riskplaza Europe is a database with information on the safety of food ingredients. The Riskplaza Europe database holds information about the hazards associated with ingredients and the control measures that can be taken to control these hazards. Riskplaza Europe and the information it contains is accessible to (suppliers to) companies in the associated sectors, the government, and agencies involved in the Riskplaza Audit+ system. The Riskplaza foundation ensures, with experts from the various sectors and certification bodies, that the database contains the latest information on food safety. Sonneveld uses the Riskplaza Audit+ system. During the audit, companies must show that the relevant hazards of ingredients are being controlled. ‘All raw materials and suppliers are inspected rigorously and audited if necessary. This is backed up by the Governmental Dutch Food Authority. In this way, all our ingredients and raw materials are guaranteed. Our customers, mostly artisanal bakers, don’t have to undergo this inspection process.’ Due to increasing demands, namely amongst industrial bakers, this working method has really taken off over the last four years.

Riskplaza and food safety
Legislation specifies that all food-processing companies in Europe are required to implement a Hazard Analysis of raw materials. Riskplaza Europe is a database holding up-to-date information on the safety of ingredients. Riskplaza works together with experts from various sectors and with certifying institutions. The database is accessible by companies, governments and Riskplaza-related agencies.

Unannounced inspections
Food safety also plays a crucial role in Sonneveld’s production process. Boonstra: ‘Working hygienically is an absolute priority. That’s why we are in favor of unannounced inspections. Any inspector can come and take a look unannounced. The problem with several common standards and safety systems is that manufacturers know in advance when inspectors will be arriving. If you know beforehand, you organize everything perfectly on that one day… If the inspections are a surprise then the operational management must be in order at all times.’ Because we have three Food Safety Certificates (AIB,BRC and Orkla Food Safety Standard), this means that about three times a year we are unannounced visited by auditors.

Improvisation
Unannounced inspections create confidence in food safety within the production process and they ensure that people work better. ‘We must have everything organized at every department at all times. This requires us to work hygienically, tidily and in a structured manner. If inspectors show up unexpectedly, that does require a bit of improvisation on our part. All our specialists are not always available immediately. Sometimes we have to shift gear quickly, but that’s just part of the idea. If you do things well then you are able to successfully pass unannounced inspections. This will lead to better results, such as a constant quality, lower failure costs and fewer complaints. Last but not least; Working in a clean hygienic work environment is also more pleasant for our employees.

Cross-contamination
Boonstra expects greater attention to cross-contamination with allergens in the near future. ‘More than half the recalls in the food industry are related to the unintended presence of ingredients that don’t belong in the product, and to which some consumers may be allergic. This can occasionally make some people sick. Our goal is to reduce the risk to as low as possible. That’s a big challenge to every company. We’re working to reduce this, step by step, and are acquiring more knowledge about it.’




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