First to the Table
Q&A on Food Safety
With Dr. Matilda Freund, Kraft Foods, Inc.
SN: Kraft is an important member of the Grocery Manufacturers Association. Have you tied into GMA's food safety initiatives? Please explain.
Freund: We find it very useful because we can interact with our peers. We're now working with GMA and a number of our peer companies to write an industry handbook for the nut industry on what the appropriate controls should be to produce all varieties of safe nuts. We're all contributing our knowledge to write it. The handbook will be free to the industry, and we are also offering free training to the various nut handlers.
We started this comprehensive handbook in May and it is now in the final draft. We have already have conducted some training internally for our nut suppliers. The handbook should be available in September, with the first training available in October or November.
SN: Let's talk about your retail partners. How can they collaborate with Kraft on food safety?
Freund: We've had a closer partnership with retailers in the last few years. For example, we are supportive of the GFSI initiative.
GFSI, or the Global Food Safety Initiative, is an umbrella embracing a few different audit schemes. It was established by retailers in Europe, but Wal-Mart in the U.S. has joined in the effort. It really is a certification scheme for food safety audits. The retailers have been asking for these audits in the past. Now we are joining a number of other food companies to say that we will get these audits. We will ask our suppliers for these audits so that we have a common standard to measure our food safety.
We believe that by working together to develop a common audit scheme with our retailers and suppliers, we could benefit the overall food safety system across the supply chain.
SN: Other than working broadly with retailers through GFSI, are you working one-on-one with any chains?
Freund: There have been a number of top-to-top meetings as well as some meetings between key businesses with certain retailers. We have met with a number of retailers to talk about what we do with food safety and how we can work together.
SN: No discussion of food safety would be complete without talking about legislation. What needs to be done via legislation to enhance food safety in America?
Freund: The food safety system needs to be strengthened, and we are very committed to working toward that end. We believe that every food manufacturer should have a comprehensive plan that describes how they're going to control food safety and it should include a risk assessment. We also believe that prevention should be the cornerstone of food safety. We've been working closely with government and others in the industry to help define and further strengthen our system.
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- Federal Food Safety Information
Have a burning question related to food safety? Ask Kraft Foods' food safety expert, Dr. Matilda Freund, who has devoted nearly 20 years to this important issue.