Supply chain integrity, a necessary revolution

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On the integrity of the food supply chain, Professor Chris Elliott, Professor in Food Security and director of the ‘Global Food Security‘ Institute at Queen’s University Belfast, recently made an appeal. (1) A revolution is necessary, and it can be articulated on six key concepts. We take this opportunity to make humble additional notes and comments.

1) The food we produce must be safe.

Food safety remains at the center of European sector policies, at least in theory. In practice, the recent salmonella-contaminated baby milk powder scandal, produced by Lactalis in France and recalled in 83 countries, is just the latest symptom of a system that does not work. And the European Commission, as has been repeatedly reported on this site, continues to be on the sidelines. (2)

The focal question, according to Professor Chris Elliott, is whether the food industry and policy really intend to move toward supply chain integrity. The changes required are significant, and so is the investment, but this appears to be the only way to achieve the goals set. These pertain to food safety and public health-also considering nutritional safety-but also to the socio-environmental sustainability of production.

Food poisonings in England were 1 million each year, the professor points out. (3) The figure is worrying and should give pause for thought about the dangers associated with public health cuts, which inevitably result in the reduction of official public food safety controls. (4)

2) The food we produce must be authentic.

Traceability. of foods – introduced by the General Food Law, on a general scale, as of 1.1.2005 (5) – is not enough to prevent the food fraud. Nor will https://www.greatitalianfoodtrade.it/etichette/controlli-il-ruolo-dellamministrazione-sanitaria/ be able to mitigate them.

Professor Chris Elliott was one of the key players in the handling of the so-called Horsemeat scandal, when huge quantities of horsemeat – passed off as beef – were put into numerous food products, including Big Food, circulated throughout Europe.

Food fraud still recurs, often far from the spotlight because it is localized, and merits the adoption of appropriate measures in all member states, under the coordination of the European Commission.

Consumer information should in turn pursue transparency goals, but the efforts of the European legislature in this direction are thwarted, time and again, by the Brussels executive. As seen recently with the hoax on primary ingredient origin labeling. (6)

3) The food we produce must be nutritious




Nutritional security




,




nutritional profiles


. Needless to hide behind false paradigms about diet balance, one can no longer disregard considering the

junk food



as such.

Globally, Chris Elliott reminds us, undernutrition afflicts about 1 billion individuals, and malnutrition by excess-with obesity and related diseases-affects another 2, out of a population of 7.5. The professor addresses the even more widespread deficits in fat-soluble vitamins and mineral salts (selenium, magnesium, zinc, iodine), as well as valuable fatty acids such as Omega-3.

How can a food system be based on supply chain integrity when two-thirds of the world’s population is micronutrient deficient, the professor asks? A new industrial revolution is needed, with the support of politics and the contribution of science. Also to improve micronutrient contents in foods by natural methods.

4) The production chains of our food are sustainable.

Sustainability is an imperative of every anthropogenic activity on the planet today. Agriculture, animal husbandry, food processing and distribution play as important a role in natural resource consumption as in greenhouse gas emissions.

From words to deeds, more can and should be done. Increasing yields without depleting crops or polluting the environment by reducing the use of agrotoxics for example. Decrease the environmental footprint of processes, with the help of technologies.




Food waste




food must also be reduced, starting with the primary agricultural supply chain and ending with the recovery of surplus food.

5) Our food should be made according to the highest ethical standards

The ethical question comes up again from different perspectives. On the one hand, we observe the growing attention of consumers – and of the


Millennials




in particular – toward the impact of supply chains, wherever based, on societies and the environment.

The invasion of non-EU foods made under conditions of socio-environmental dumping-often at reduced or absent import duties, due to the forcible trade policies of this European Commission (7)-is, after all, there for all to see.

The supply chain thus tends to dis-integrate, as the above raw materials and food products inevitably win the price battle with those made in Europe. The higher costs of which are linked to, among other things, compliance with the strictest environmental, worker and safety regulations.

6) We respect the environment and workers




The rights of the environment and workers




are clinging to the globalist choices of




Big Food


, the 10 big sisters and their emulators. Who-beyond isolated operations, between marketing and


greenwashing




– always prefer to save on raw material costs, at all costs.




Exploitation




of workers, land robbery,




slavery


including juvenile – and environmental devastation in distant countries. These are the costs of saving


Big Food




, which not surprisingly insists on hiding the origin of raw materials and the



location of the plant



on the label.

Amazon in turn is a paradigmaticcase of worker exploitation, just a stone’s throw from our homes. But here, unfortunately, consumers are the first to chase the glare of savings, neglecting the social costs of their purchasing choices.

A revolution is needed, Professor Elliott is quite right, starting with everyone’s conscience.

Dario Dongo

Notes

(1) At https://www.foodmanufacture.co.uk/Article/2018/01/18/Six-principles-to-reshape-the-food-supply-system-Professor-Elliott

(2) It is worth recalling in this regard a couple of previous food security crises that have occurred in the EU in the past few months. TheBritish hepatitis E outbreak caused by fresh pork from Germany and Holland, and Fipronil https://www.greatitalianfoodtrade.it/idee/uova-al-fipronil-riflessioni-sull-ennesima-frode-alimentare-in-europa

(3) The situation in the U.S. is far worse, with one in six citizens affected by food poisoning every year. Proving, if ever there was a need, that the ‘invisible hand’ of the market is not enough to ensure food safety, without adequate public controls

(4) Official public controls in Italy https://www.greatitalianfoodtrade.it/salute/controlli-ufficiali-alimenti-in-italia-dati-2016 work better than elsewhere, thanks to the conspicuous deployment of public resources devoted to them. However, attention must be maintained at the highest level, with adequate resources and staff training

(5) See reg. EC 178/02, Article 18. See also the article https://www.foodagriculturerequirements.com/archivio-notizie/domande-e-risposte/rintracciabilità-interna-rispondono-l-avv-dario-dongo-e-il-dr-alfredo-rossi

(6) See article https://www.greatitalianfoodtrade.it/etichette/origine-ingrediente-primario-vincitori-e-vinti. Not forgetting the Commission’s unnecessary reports on the origin of raw material https://www.foodagriculturerequirements.com/approfondimenti_1/etichettatura-d-origine-prosegue-il-dibattito-tra-commissione-e-parlamento-europeo



(7) Cite as an example the surges in zero-duty rice imports from EBA countries (




Everything But Arms




) https://www.greatitalianfoodtrade.it/mercati/salvare-il-riso-italiano-stop-alle-importazioni-per-frenare-la-crisi and the tariff quotas, also at zero duty, granted to Tunisian olive oil https://www.foodagriculturerequirements.com/archivio-notizie/europa-nuove-aperture-all-olio-di-oliva-tunisino

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Dario Dongo, lawyer and journalist, PhD in international food law, founder of WIISE (FARE - GIFT - Food Times) and Égalité.