Tuesday, 21 July 2015

We have dedicated quality, food safety network – Fraser

Recently, select journalists from West and Central Africa visited the Research and Development (R & D) Centre of Nestle, one of the world’s leading nutrition and Health Company in Abidjan, Cote D’Ivoire to have a firsthand experience of its quality and food safety network. Dr. Owen Fraser, Head of the Nestle Quality and Assurance Centre (NQAC) who conducted the selected 20 journalists round the facility, spoke about Nestle’s commitment to delight consumers with healthy food and beverages of the highest quality. CHIOMA UMEHA (HEALTH EDITOR) provides the excerpts:

Dr Owen-Fraser
Role of R&D in quality and safety
Our R&D organisation includes a dedicated quality and food safety network. This has a number of different elements such as: An early warning network, which identifies and helps prevent potential safety issues; a microbiological safety network that provides fast and reliable microbiology safety assessments; an analytical methods network to develop and improve analytical standards.

Global analytical laboratories network
Nestle has 29 regional testing labs that provide analytical data and quality assurance support to operations and R&D. The quality and safety of our products is our top priority. I will mention some of the steps we take to ensure that the Nestlé products you buy are safe to consume.

Materials
Nestle’s approach to food safety covers the entire supply chain, starting with farmers and suppliers. We follow rigorous procurement and auditing processes to ensure we select safe, high quality raw materials. This includes defining specifications for the materials we use, and performing checks to ensure they always comply with the most stringent regulations and the latest scientific knowledge. If they don’t comply, we reject them.

Stringent controls
All our manufacturing facilities, wherever they are in the world, are designed to ensure we prepare our products to the highest quality and safety standards. This includes preventing foreign bodies from entering products, enabling the management of allergens, and controlling pests. Our factories are all built according to precise prerequisites, including those for a clean and safe water supply, for air filtration, and for any material that will come into contact with food, to guarantee that the materials, equipment and manufacturing environment are all designed to produce safe products. We carefully manage the flow of ingredients and products in and out of our factories to ensure raw materials and prepared foods are properly segregated. Our factories have dedicated zones, equipment and utensils for different ingredients to prevent cross-contamination. We follow certified cleaning and sanitation practices at every step of production, and our employees are trained to fully adhere to the principles of good food hygiene.

Processing
Our recipes and processing techniques are scientifically formulated to deliver the safest possible products. We prepare products in quantities that provide an appropriate and consistent dosage of any nutrient, to avoid any harm linked to over- or under-dosage. And we process food at optimum temperatures to retain its nutritious value, while removing dangerous microorganisms and preventing the formation of chemical contaminants.

Verification
Product inspection: Verifying the product quality and consistency. Before a batch of product leaves one of our factories, it must pass a ‘positive release’ test to confirm it is safe to consume. At Nestlé we carry out more than 100 million tests a year to verify product compliance with internal and external standards, including for harmful compounds or microorganisms in the materials we use, the environment we operate in, and also in our products.

We have so many stringent, inbuilt controls to guarantee safety, that by the time we reach the final testing stages, we are already extremely confident that the finished product is safe.

Packaging and transportation
When products are released from the factory, we make sure they reach their destination in optimum condition. For chilled or frozen products, this also means ensuring they are stored and transported at the correct temperature. Packaging has a vital role to play in ensuring our products reach consumers in a safe condition. It also carries clear information about how to prepare, store and use the product, with information on ingredients as well as any allergen risks. We make sure that best-before and use-by dates are correct so consumers understand when the product will be past its best and when it will no longer be safe to consume. This also helps to avoid generating unnecessary waste.

Packaging also helps to ensure traceability in our factories. We use unique batch codes, to tell us exactly when a product was produced, what ingredients went into it and where those ingredients came from.

Managing risk
We have an early warning system to help us pinpoint signals that may develop into issues. The earlier we can spot potential issues, the better we can prevent or manage them.

Meeting expectations
Food safety is never static. Expectations are always changing, regulations are changing and our scientific knowledge is changing. That is why we constantly improve our procedures and share our expertise on food safety with the rest of the industry, external authorities and our consumers.


This story was published in Newswatch Times on June 18, 2015.

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