Last week’s outbreak of E. Coli in Europe has caused losses of millions of dollars for the European agricultural industry and, more importantly, the deaths of more than 20 people. This unfortunate incident presents yet another reminder of the critical importance of monitoring supplier quality in the food production process. Though the rate of illness from the current outbreak has slowed, officials are no closer to identifying the source of the strain than they were a week ago, leading the World Health Organization to believe that time is running out and that the root cause of the outbreak may never be found. As we saw with the salmonella-tainted tomato and peanut butter in the US, an outbreak like this can have devastating effects from which it can take food and beverage companies years to recover.
As such, the E. Coli outbreak in Europe should be seen as yet another wake-up call to food companies to ensure they have the proper processes in place to prevent the contamination of products through adequate monitoring of supplier quality. Should products become contaminated, supplier quality management can help companies investigate the problem, identify the root cause and quickly and efficiently take steps to ensure that the issue does not happen again.
The European E. Coli outbreak once again demonstrates the critical need for supplier quality monitoring and management in the food industry, as it’s clear that this is a crisis from which it will take the European industry years to recover. And because many companies source ingredients for their own products globally, the potential for a spread of the outbreak is real, making the need to monitor supplier quality that much greater. The directive for food companies: make sure you know where your ingredients are coming from and implement adequate controls and processes for supplier quality management.