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Journal of Supply Chain Management

FDA Compliance

Food Quality and the Global Food Supply Chain

Published: Tuesday, March 25, 2008 - 22:00

(Journal of Supply Chain Management: Clemson, North Carolina) -- A new study from the Journal of Supply Chain Management illustrates the real potential for contamination of globally sourced foods and proposes a conceptual framework of supply chain quality management.Led by Aleda V. Roth of Clemson University, the study utilized information from trends of U.S. food imports from China, subsequent recall events, and U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) data to highlight the inherent difficulties and risks posed by global food supply chains.

Various quality problems have been associated with foods and ingredients imported from China. There exists limited capacity of current regulatory bodies to police product flows, including lack of enforcement by the FDA. Problems often arise when pursuit of profit isn’t held in check by regulatory forces, resulting in noncompliance with laws and standards, and even corruption. These problems have led to contamination of Chinese-made products.

How should these challenges be handled? Roth says that “adding on inspections and stricter regulations alone may be neither sustainable nor effective in the long run.”

U.S. regulations that require tracing ingredients one step forward and one step backward are inadequate in 12,000-mile, complex supply chains. In China, for example, inputs to food ingredients are combined from millions of small farms, and there are often many intermediaries involved in the various stages of getting food from the farm to the table. Moreover, longer distances affect food freshness and quality and often necessitate the addition of chemical preservatives and dyes.

The study poses a different path that follows a conceptual framework called the “6Ts” of supply-chain quality management. Each of the six Ts—traceability, transparency, testability, time, trust, and training—are critical to the preservation of the public welfare through a safe food supply. The 6Ts represent the key necessary inputs and outputs to ensure that high-quality food is delivered to consumers.

For further information, and to view the abstract of the article, visit www.blackwellpublishing.com/press/pressitem.asp?ref=1639

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Journal of Supply Chain Management