Home' FMCG Business : FMCG DEC 2015 Contents Defending New Zealand’s
Food defence is about protecting our food products from deliberate
or intentional acts of contamination or tampering.
FMCG Business talked to two experts about food
defence, one of the key focuses for MPI’s recent
Food Protection Forum: Scott Gallacher, Deputy
Director General for Regulation and Assurance in New
Zealand and Dr John Larkin, Research Director at the
Food Protection and Defense Institute in the US. Dr
Larkin manages research projects funded by the US
Department of Homeland Security.
Mr Gallacher, what is your role at MPI?
As the Deputy Director General Regulation and
Assurance at MPI, I lead the areas at MPI responsible
for delivering and implementing all of MPI’s legislative and
The regulatory and assurance areas of MPI provide confidence,
transparency and trust to domestic and overseas consumers, overseas
regulators and the primary industries as to the credibility, integrity
and strength of the regulatory settings and systems for biosecurity,
food safety and primary production (including animal welfare and
Please tell us about the key messages at the
recent MPI Food Protection Forum.
In October, MPI held the Food Protection Forum where industry leaders,
regulators and overseas experts came together to discuss and share
knowledge on how industry and Government can work together to
further strengthen New Zealand’s food safety and food defence systems.
New Zealand has earned an enviable reputation for food safety, but
to maintain it we need to continually improve. Ensuring the safety
of consumers will always be our key priority and an increasingly
important part of this is to make sure we have a strong food safety
culture and that the integrity of our foods is upheld and protected
from deliberate acts of contamination.
This means that for regulators around the world, and for the food
industry, a focus on food safety is increasingly being shared with
concepts like “Food Defence” operating under an umbrella known as
What is food defence?
When we talk about food defence, we are looking at how to defend
our food supply against deliberate and malicious attacks for political
or ideological reasons, or for financial gain.
What does food defence in New Zealand look like?
The importance of defending our food from these criminal acts has become
very relevant to us in New Zealand with the recent events around the
criminal threat to contaminate infant formula and other
formula with 1080.
Although no infants were harmed as a result of the
comprehensive and focused response from government,
the dairy industry and retailers, this threat has shown
us that we need to continue to be vigilant to deter these
acts and protect our food supply.
We recognise these challenges are real and that
responding to them requires collaboration across
government and industry. That is why MPI held the
Food Protection Forum in October this year.
What role do retailers and manufacturers
play in food defence?
All players in the supply chain have a role to play in ensuring
we have robust systems to protect the integrity of New Zealand
products. Companies can protect their products from tampering or
contamination by having the right processes and safety culture in place.
Having well managed processes will allow companies to effectively
monitor every aspect of their supply chain and respond quickly to
any issues. Traceability is also key, knowing where your products
come from and having the ability to trace products in the event of a
recall is important.
Retailers and manufacturers can do a lot to prevent criminal
activity. Businesses should be regularly reviewing their processes
across their whole supply chain to identify potential opportunities
where their products can be tampered with and what steps can be
taken to prevent this.
Simply demonstrating the right preventative processes are in place is
also another good deterrent. This can be done by being more proactive
in communicating with suppliers and peers about the monitoring and
testing programmes your company undertakes and demonstrating a
strong food safety culture.
What can our industry and MPI do to ensure that
we have a robust food defence system?
Protecting our food chain is everybody’s business, and not just the
responsibility of a few technical people. It must be owned in every role
throughout the organisation, from board-level down.
MPI is working with regulators in other countries to ensure they
continue to have trust in New Zealand food products. To help
facilitate these discussions, we’ve increased our staff in key markets
such as China.
At MPI we are always keen to work and support industry to
help meet these challenges. I encourage all companies to reach out
to us and their peers so we can continue to have these important
36 FMCG BUSINESS - DEC/JAN 2016
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