Managing the Risk of Product Contamination Beyond the Pandemic
The impact of COVID-19 saw food and beverage companies face significant supply chain disruption and a requirement to heighten operational management. Production lines and transportation logistics were vigorously assessed and monitored to reduce the risk of contamination despite no definitive evidence of COVID-19 transmission via food or food packaging was identified (Food Standards Australia & New Zealand, 2019).
2018 alone saw needles in strawberries, listeria on rockmelons, and metal in lollipops. we have seen milk recalls due to E.coli contamination and metal fragments found in meat. Such food supply crises have delivered a signal warning about the relative fragility of Australia’s food supply chain, and the serious implications that a food safety issue can have for an agribusiness.
There are an estimated 2 million-plus food poisoning incidents each year in Australia – as well as injuries from foreign bodies in food and beverages1. Besides the direct human impact, there can be profound business continuity implications for organisations across the supply chain.
According to Food Standards ANZ, last year was Australia’s highest number of product recalls, with 109 reported cases in 20202.
Aon’s 2019 Global Risk Management Survey identified damage to brand and reputation along with product recall as two of the greatest risks facing the food agribusiness and beverage industries.
Australia’s food and beverage sector is highly diverse, with increasing complexity from growers through to retail distribution. Each link in the chain can be exposed to tampering, sabotage or extortion. Contamination from the grower can impact other businesses in the chain and introduce costs associated with decontamination required throughout the network, along with safe product destruction.