In response to the two most recent food borne illness outbreaks in the last nine months, how can we possibly monitor these types of events?

February 2nd, 2009

Who has the time to monitor their supplier’s safety performance?

When we think about safety and eco standards in the supply chain, I honestly believe that all companies say quietly to themselves; how are we supposed to monitor this with everything else we have to deal with in procuring products?

I have written on this subject before, and as a TQM ands Six Sigma advocate, believe in the statement that you can not manage something that you do not measure.

The issue becomes more complex when you consider that data is required from your organization relative to the historical performance of existing suppliers, data from the supplier as to their own assessment of their historical performance and finally external data that neither may have at their finger tips.

When we talk about safety, the question that retailers need to ask suppliers is pretty simple. What certifications do you carry relative to food safety such as Safe Quality Foods (SQF), Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI), American Humane Certified and many more? Another area to question should be regarding USDA and FDA inspection history.

Although Green Initiatives fall into the social consciousness area of a company, there are a variety of questions that can be asked in this area as well such as Green Seal, Eco-logo and Green Star certifications and participations.

It may be easier for retailers to rely on their e-procurement providers for this data if the provider has it included in their supplier database or some other knowledge source. Pre-populated e-procurement templates can act as a form of scorecard for existing suppliers and potential news sources of supply. This is actually a type of automated RFI process which can save companies a lot of work and time when trying to find additional sources of safe and eco friendly supply or when trying to drive cost down with existing suppliers. These data may also help to protect retailers from harmful litigation when products end up not being as safe as promised.

Can your e-procurement provider provide these types of data on demand as a normal byproduct of your standard e-procurement process at no additional cost? Ask them?

We appreciate and look forward to your comments.

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