HorizonScan, the world’s most comprehensive database of food hazards, shares its findings for Q1 2019, noting a decrease in food integrity issues in key categories including meat and poultry, but a sharp uptick in issues related to herbs and spices.

“One of the primary components of the Food Safety Modernization Act [FSMA] is that companies must conduct a risk assessment of their ingredients and suppliers to detect known or reasonably foreseeable hazards,” says Ron Stakland, global product manager, HorizonScan. “However, the globalization of ingredient sourcing has made it more challenging than ever to assess the chemical, biological and physical risks in the supply chain.”

The good news, according to Stakland, is that there has been a significant decline in food hazard issues reported in Q1 of 2019 for meat and meat products, poultry and nuts and seeds.

This is a significant change from Q4 of 2018 in which hazard reports for meat and meat products were up by 30.3 percent due to a nearly 32 percent increase in reports of salmonella and listeria in sausages and an almost 20 percent increase in hazards reported for preparations.

Likewise, poultry hazards were down 25.2 percent in Q1 of 2019 following previous increases stemming from salmonella contamination in chicken meat from Brazil.

Seafood issues also continued to decline another 4.2 percent, following an 11.7 percent decline during the fourth quarter of 2018.

Milk and dairy product hazards declined 2.7 percent following a Q4 2018 quarterly increase of 7.8 percent.

Another category that previously reported significant issues related to aflatoxins (mold) in nuts (including almonds, pistachios, hazelnuts, brazil and cashew nuts) reported hazards continued to go down 14.2 percent during the last quarter.

Unfortunately, Q1 2019 hazards for herbs and spices went up significantly, 57.1 percent. While reporting for this category was previously down 21 percent in Q4, the category still remained up for the 2018 calendar year by 11.1 percent.

Industry awareness is a critical issue. “Growing consumer and regulatory demand for food transparency and sustainability has spurred both mandated and voluntary global industry standards for greater visibility into the supply chain,” explained Stakland.

For manufacturers, the stakes have never been higher. Under FSMA regulations, failure to implement an effective supply chain risk management program could subject food companies and their officers to significant liability and even criminal charges.

“Fines are just one part of the picture,” noted Stakland. “It’s estimated that the average cost of a product recall is $10 million, which can easily multiply, depending on the size and scope of the recall.

Add to that the potential damages a supplier, manufacturer or retailer can incur as a result of fines, consumer-facing litigation and negative publicity.”

The HorizonScan food safety management system monitors safety and integrity alerts worldwide, collecting data daily from over 115 food safety agencies and other reliable sources to deliver timely alerts on emerging food safety issues affecting nearly 600 commodities from more than 180 countries. It also contains data on over 22,000 unique suppliers who have been the subject of one or more hazard reports in the past 15 years. It is utilized by hundreds of companies across the food supply chain in sectors such as baking and milling, flavors and fragrances, meat processing, confectionery, cheese and dairy, spices, and many more.

This web-based, food-safety software displays the most important issues affecting each food commodity with pertinent, actionable facts. Users can search by commodity, country of origin, type of hazard, supplier, date of event, and set up automatic alerts for the commodities and issues they feel are most important. FoodChain ID provides integrated food safety and food quality solutions that address the challenges and opportunities in the rapidly evolving food industry.

A  risk assessment for food industry professionals can be accessed on the company’s website at: www.globalhorizonscan.com.