Wal-Mart is adopting a more proactive risk management process. The company is the largest buyer and seller of food products in the world, and food safety receives a great deal of emphasis, according to Food Business News.
The company imports approximately 60 percent of its produce and 80 percent of seafood, so health hazards could be encountered at many points before products reached consumers. Wal-Mart was the first commercial grocery store chain to require its suppliers to comply with Global Food Safety Initiative standards in 2008, the source said. With the high degree of imported products, the company would have been forced to rely on the food safety regulations in other countries, so supplier quality management became more important.
Wal-Mart found requiring its suppliers to become GSFI certified increased consumer perception of the brand, made food safer and reduced the number of supplier audits and associated costs. Two years after GSFI adoption, the company reported a 34 percent reduction in audits. Wal-Mart utilizes a multiple-intervention approach for high-risk foods and ingredients with strategies for specific commodities. Implementing preventive strategies was more cost effective than recalling bad food products.
In addition to risks during production, packaging in an important component in food safety, according to Food Processing. Networks are often globalized, so packaging is important to ensure the food in the consumer product market is safe. Sometimes contamination risks are overlooked during production because safety is dependent on food preparation, especially with meat products. Risk analysis procedures for packaging can help ensure quality and decrease risk of foodborne illness. Wal-Mart is not the only company requiring its trade partners to become GFSI certified. Coca-Cola now requires packaging suppliers to comply with GFSI standards to minimize food safety risks.