Food Safety

The Consumer Perspective

Food Safety has been a concern to consumer long before today's scientists became involved. Our European ancestors habitually drank a variety of potions referred to as "thin beer" in preference to fresh water as they had learned from bitter experience that drinking unclean water was not good for their longlivety!

It is no accident that many monasteries in Germany or Belgium have a beer brewing tradition that reaches back centuries. Nor that the average life expectancy of monks was somewhat higher than that of the general population.

Today's consumer is driven by the same basic expectation as those harboured by our ancestors. By preference, we like to consume food and drink that nourishes us and does not make us sick or kill us instead.

And increasingly, consumers have become aware that fresh fruit and vegetable consumption also comes with certain health risks if the produce has been contaminated on its journey from paddock to plate.

Not only is the consumer therefore looking for an assurance from producers that the fruits & vegetables on offer are fit for human consumption, but the retailer, this modern day self-appointed consumer watchdog, has cottoned on to the need for a systematic approach to Food Safety as well.  As a result, every retailer seems to have his own specific safe food expecations that suppliers have to meet, over an above any regulatory base line activities at local, regional or central government level.

Does that make the produce we eat any safer? Only if the people who grow, harvest, transport, distribute and sell our fruits and vegetables practice what they preach. And part of that commitment have to be total transparency of the produce supply chain and traceability of the produce travelling along that chain.

Consumers' ability to access information fast and respond to change almost instantly are hallmarks of the times we live in. The internet in general and Social Media like Facebook in particular have not just led to an information explosion but to entirely new consumer interaction channels and we are just at the beginning of these trends.

With safe food so critical to human health as it is, we can expect that new technologies and changing consumer behaviours in relation to fresh produce consumption will be especially prevalent in the Food Safety vector of the industry.





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