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Food integrity in the global supply chain

Sharing exclusive insights gleaned from Food Integrity 2021, Liz Colebrook from Mars Incorporated reflects on the role that regulation plays on the international food safety stage.

I was privileged to take part in a panel discussion at this year’s Food Integrity 2021 Event, hosted by New Food. The topic of discussion was Regulating to Increase Integrity, and my co-panellists were Caitlin Boon, Associate Commissioner for Food Policy and Response at the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and Peter Whelan, Director of Audit and Investigations, Food Safety Authority of Ireland. The session was facilitated by Michael Bell, Executive Director Northern Ireland Food and Drink Association. Reflecting on the session, a few topics stood out.

Ethics and trust are paramount in regulation

We began by considering what integrity means; being honest and having moral principles perhaps? I like the quote from C S Lewis that, “Integrity is doing the right thing when no one is looking” as I feel this is particularly apt for the food industry. While scrutiny of industry’s activities has increased over the past decade, it simply isn’t possible for enforcement authorities to be present at every manufacturing plant or retail outlet. There must, therefore, be a degree of trust that the same high standards will be maintained whether or not ‘someone is looking’. Most importantly, consumers must be able to trust that industry is ‘doing the right thing when no one is looking’, and to that end, industry must be able to demonstrate support of appropriate regulation and adherence to it…

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