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Institute of Medicine (US). Improving Food Safety Through a One Health Approach: Workshop Summary. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2012.

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Improving Food Safety Through a One Health Approach: Workshop Summary.

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Cargill is an international producer and marketer of food, agricultural, financial, and industrial products and services. Founded in 1865, our privately held company employs 139,000 people in 65 countries. We help customers succeed through collaboration and innovation and are committed to sharing our global knowledge and experience to help meet economic, environmental, and social challenges.

In fiscal year 2011, Cargill had US$119.5 billion in sales and other revenues. Earnings from continuing operations were US$2.69 billion. The company also realized US$1.55 billion in income from discontinued operations.

Cargill has a very focused purpose to be the global leader in nourishing people. That purpose takes into account health and nutrition, as well as food safety and food security. We have a mission to create distinctive value, and our approach is to be trustworthy, creative, and enterprising.

Thousands of customers turn to Cargill for innovative solutions across our four major market segments.

  • Agriculture: We buy, process, and distribute grain, oilseeds, and other commodities to makers of food and animal nutrition products. We also provide crop and livestock producers with products and services.
  • Food: We provide food and beverage manufacturers, food service companies, and retailers with high-quality ingredients, meat and poultry products, and health-promoting ingredients and ingredient systems.
  • Financial: We provide our agricultural, food, financial, and energy customers around the world with risk management and financial solutions.
  • Industrial: Cargill serves industrial users of energy, salt, starch, and steel products. We also develop and market sustainable products made from agricultural feedstocks.

As an agricultural and food company, food safety is fundamental to Cargill's ongoing business. Our goal is to provide high-quality, safe food every time, everywhere. We recognize that our work in this important area is never done. Every day we work to earn the trust of our customers and consumers, beginning with the safety of the products we produce and extending to improving food safety around the world.

Our definition of food safety is simple—protecting people and animals from illness or injury from handling or consuming our food products. Our efforts to ensure this—all along the vast supply chain, from production to consumption—are much more complex. Because we touch the global food supply chain in so many ways and in so many places, we take a broad, comprehensive science- and risk-based approach to ensure the safety and integrity of all of our products. This comprehensive approach is designed to address biological, chemical, and physical hazards.

Because we recognize that food safety practices, legislation, and regulatory oversight vary between and even within nations, we have adopted one global systems approach to which we hold ourselves accountable across all of our business, in all of our geographies.

It's everyone's responsibility, and we take a very holistic approach from the farm all the way to the plate. We embrace the concept of One Health.

I want to share this as a roadmap. I'm going to break this down as we go through here, but I think this is a very good example of what One Health is all about. We've worked on this with a number of other colleagues in the food industry and through Michigan State University to create this road map for the components around global food safety (Figure A13-1).

Diagram showing the partnership needed for managing food safety incorporating international governance/ standardization, national governance and business initiatives


Roadmap for the components of global food safety. SOURCE: Cargill.

The journey starts out with international governance up in the upper left-hand corner. Then there's a track that goes across the top around how governments can adopt the principles, guidelines, and recommendations coming out of Codex Alimentarius (CODEX), the OIE (World Organization for Animal Health), and the International Plant Protection Commission (IPPC) as a basis for the regulatory oversight program. These organizations are the international standard setting setting bodies prescribed by the World Trade Organization's (WTO's) Sanitary and Phytosanitary Agreement (SPS).

The bottom track outlines how industry has taken those same principles, guidelines, and recommendations and, through an ISO framework, transformed them into food safety systems that can be implemented and then audited against to ensure that the systems have been appropriately deployed. These systems can cover the entire food network going from the farm on the left all the way through to the consumer on the right. It's a shared responsibility, shared accountability thought process through the whole thing.

We will discuss public–private partnerships as we go through the map.

Countries are dependent on each other for food. We know that we don't produce enough food in the areas where a lot of people live; therefore, there is going to be movement of food. This isn't anything new. Food historically has been a basis of trade, and it used to be traded for other goods and services over time. This continues on today.

National governments established the WTO and the SPS agreements, and use CODEX, OIE, and IPPC for the process for setting international food safety standards. Out of these organizations you have science-based standards that have been internationally vetted, discussed, and adopted. Out of this comes guidelines and recommendations that can be utilized by both the public and the private sector in global food safety.

Going across the top of the road map, we actually started to create these slides as we got into discussions with various governments on regulatory reform. We've used this with the Chinese government (Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, Ministry of Health) in discussions about how they can effectively implement food safety systems from a regulatory oversight standpoint.

We've also used it over the past year with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as it has looked at implementing the Food Safety Modernization Act to provide an idea of what the industry's thinking and how we're taking these international standards and adopting them in our food safety systems across the global food supply network.

From a government standpoint we all know that strong systems will protect customers and consumers, and also facilitate trade. A number of countries already used CODEX as a basis for a number of their regulations. Many of them reference ISO as voluntary measures, and as suggestions for the industry in terms of adoption. Regarding government inspections and compliance, if a regulatory agency is verifying compliance and evaluating a firm's preventative measures, and the focus is on the elements that come out of international governance, then you will have industry and government looking at the same criteria and thus aligned as to what it is that is important as it relates to the safety of our food system.

On the private-sector side, the rationale is to build on science-based standards coming out of CODEX, OIE, and IPPC. A strategic partnership exists between ISO and WTO to facilitate market requirements. They're working together to make sure that there's a framework available for the private sector to adopt these principles.

ISO does not regulate, legislate, certify, or accredit. We have 163 countries and national standards that collaborate with ISO on the development of these voluntary measures. There is a lot of input and a lot of ownership through this process. They are voluntary measures, but there are measures for the accreditation process, for the certification process, for auditing, for auditor competency, and then also for food safety management systems. All together it gives industry the basis for consistent, harmonized food safety management systems.

The process standardizes implementation; it gives us harmonization, alignment, and consistency across the food chain from origination through consumption. In some cases there may be a market requirement, or it may be referred to in regulations and legislation. For the industry it's a good framework—using the guidelines, recommendations, and principles out of CODEX, OIE, and IPPC and putting them into a framework that can be adopted by facilities in their food safety systems.

How do we do that? Within the industry there has been a lot of discussion about food safety being a competitive issue. Let's go back to the mid-1990s when the beef industry got together as it was struggling with E. coli O157:H7 and how to deal with the situation. The industry got together and made a decision that food safety would not be a competitive issue in the ground beef business.

So all of a sudden companies were coming together and sharing insight, best practices, and data. Together we've driven the O157 presence down with the help of the ground beef industry and other stakeholders focusing in on what were the important elements of a food safety system and aligning on how to address the challenge.

The work that we've done as industry is readily available. Everybody has access to that information and those processes. We all know the tools that are out there for the entire industry to achieve the goals of improved ground beef safety.

We've also been working through an organization called the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI). GFSI is a multistakeholder group that benchmarks food safety systems. We just came out with guidance document 6 earlier this year. It is based on the principles of good hygiene and hazard analysis and critical control point (HACCP) from CODEX.

The guidance document has requirements for food safety systems and their delivery. It also has a component around capacity building that allows these principles to be implemented in emerging markets where the capacity might not be there. There's a process that takes countries or individual facilities in countries through a stepwise progression so that they can achieve this certification process.

We think food safety management systems are really the way to go in terms of having a robust program, and an accredited certification gives us third-party assurances that we're doing the right thing. We strive to create transparency and confidence in the supply chain. This has to be done through a partnership. We believe it's effective and efficient. We believe that it protects consumers around the globe. This has been implemented within Cargill (Figure A13-2).

An image of text showing the Cargill Food Safety Policy


Cargill food safety policy. SOURCE: Cargill.

This document is in every one of our facilities around the world. Everybody is aware of it. Everybody knows it and understands it. In most places around the world you're going to have both the business unit leader and the plant manager also signing this document. It's a true reflection of both top-down and bottom-up commitment to the policy.

We have based our policy and procedures on CODEX. It's a focus on food safety management systems. We have general requirements that are required to be documented. The next section describes management responsibility. Every business unit leader and every plant manager has a responsibility that they must achieve in order to be compliant with the policy.

We also have a resource management section. We have a section describing planning and realization of safe products. These may sound like strange section titles to you, but they're taken from ISO, coming right out of CODEX. These are very consistent all the way through. In fact, we just this past year renumbered our policy and procedures manual to be in line with CODEX, so it's quite clear.

In looking at planning and realization of safe products, the key is prerequisite programs, steps you must take to enable a hazard analysis, doing the hazard analysis, and then putting in your operational prerequisite programs and establishing your HACCP plan.

You must update your plan on a regular basis; we require an annual reassessment of the plan. We also have a verification component. Traceability is included in this, and then a control of any nonconforming products. It's very consistent in the approach. The next essential section includes validation and verification as well as continuous improvement of the management system.

You've got to be able to validate that what you've put in place is effective. Then you've got to verify that you're doing what you said you were going to do over time. These all become important components. It's important for us to remain outcome based so that we can drive continuous improvement.

When new technology becomes available, new interventions become available; we want to be able to take advantage of those and not be constrained by a regulatory construct that is prescriptive and telling us how to do it. Let's focus on outcomes. Let's agree on what those performance standards need to be. Let's agree what the outcome needs to be, and then let industry move forward and innovate and continuously improve and share that information across the supply chain.

There are a lot of prerequisite programs. I'm going to discuss management of purchased materials and measures for the prevention of cross-contamination as we go through here. These are prerequisite programs coming out of CODEX and some Cargill-specific prerequisite programs included. We have a lot of them. We spent a lot of time on this. This is really the soul of what we do each and every day in our food-producing plants.

I'll outline management of purchased materials. This really gets into our supplier and external manufacturer program. We have more than 1,000 plants. We have hundreds of thousands of suppliers and at least 400-500 external manufacturers who produce product on Cargill's behalf. They're expected to have the same systems in place that we do.

We have a program around the selection and management of those suppliers, incoming raw materials, and then our supplier and external manufacturer qualification and management scheme. This is a very simple diagram in the way we approach this with our suppliers (Figure A13-3). We believe this will mitigate food safety and quality risks, keeping people and animals safe. That's the core of what we do each and every day.

A diagram showing Cargill's corporate food safety and regulatory affairs


Corporate food safety and regulatory affairs. SOURCE: Cargill.

We do a risk assessment on the product and on the plant. We look at their competency development. We look at the relationship management. One of the most important components of this is know your supplier. We follow the “trust but verify” model. You must know who you're working with as a supplier. We have accountability; they have accountability. We're going to collaborate to make sure that we're assessing food safety appropriately and that there's transparency in the information that's being generated. This is at the core of what we do.

We've put together a very simple risk assessment model that we use with all of our suppliers. There's a material risk that you can see that goes from low to high, and we have a quantitative score that we go through in looking at what that risk is associated with that product. But then we also assess the capability of the supplier to manage that risk.

If you've got a high-risk material, but you've got a company that's controlling that risk, they're going to go into that medium category. If I've got a high-risk material and a high-risk supplier, they're in the priority list. About 6 percent of our suppliers fall into that range. We're working intensely with them, and they're under increased scrutiny, obviously, as we go through the process. We're rolling this out across the entire company over the course of the next 3 years, and it's quite an undertaking.

Microbiological cross-contamination is extremely important for us. We focus on environmental monitoring for most of our facilities. We also have a specific Salmonella control program and a Listeria monocytogenes control program in those facilities where those hazards are identified as being reasonably likely to occur.

The environmental monitoring program goes into play where you have a risk that's reasonably likely to occur and could find its way into product (Figure A13-4). We've put together a decision tree that we've taken through every one of our facilities so that everybody is operating against the same criteria.

A diagram of Cargill's environmental monitoring decision tree


Cargill environmental monitoring decision tree. SOURCE: Cargill.

We look at the difference between shelf-stable and not-shelf-stable products. But then there are very specific processes that everybody goes through to assess the risk associated with their product and their facility. That will take you down to whether or not you need an environmental monitoring program in place.

We've found this to be very useful in really driving people to think critically about the products that they produce, the facilities that they manage, and the products—they have to understand where they're going and who's consuming them. This has been a really valuable tool for us to get people really thinking critically about the business that they're managing.

In summary, I believe that we do have a path forward here. I think the One Health approach makes a lot of sense. We live it every day. We're originating grain and producing ready-to-eat food. To me, One Health is what we do every day.

We believe that we have a structure and a mechanism for effective global partnerships in place. We work closely not only with our supply chain and our competitors in the industry, but also with our customers and with the regulatory agencies. And we do a lot of work with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)—sharing information with CDC, talking with them, understanding epidemiology and microbiology.

Working with academia, consumer groups, government, and industry is the way forward. We've all tried to do it alone. The private sector has tried to do it alone. Government has tried to do it alone. It doesn't work. We've got to work together. We've got to get on the same page. We've got to get aligned around some of these issues.

We believe that resources must be deployed based on risk. You must have a science base and a risk base to apply resources. We're all operating with reduced resources.

We're trying to do more with less, so it becomes even more important that we're focused on the science, we're focused on the risk, and we're applying resources against the areas of greatest need. Focus has to be on prevention. It has to be on preventing issues from happening in order to maintain confidence in the food supply and to have a shared goal of safe, affordable food.

Food security plays into this in a major way, and the more preventative measures we can have in place around the world, the more assurance we're going to have of an abundant, safe food supply. It builds confidence in food safety, enhances global trade. It enhances food security. It enhances people's enjoyment of their nutrition.

Lastly, I have to finish with this statement. Business shoulders the responsibility for safe food. I know a lot of times government thinks it has the responsibility. It doesn't. We do. It's our product. It's our brand. They're our customers. We want to work together, and we want to work collaboratively. But at the end of the day, we're the ones who have the responsibility, and we accept that.


Cargill, Inc.

Copyright © 2012, National Academy of Sciences.
Bookshelf ID: NBK114487


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