Here?s some advice from William Shakespeare for today?s procurement professionals. ?To thine own self be true.?

November 6th, 2008

When product and food safety for your customers is at stake

When product and food safety for your customers is at stake, can procurement professionals rely on a myriad of disparate organizations? Or should they follow Shakespeare?s Polonius and ?to thine own self be true.?

These celebrated words were spoken in William Shakespeare?s Hamlet by Polonius to his son Laertes as he prepared him for travel abroad. ?This above all: to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man.?

This was great advice during the sixteenth century, and is equally good advice today when it comes to anyone involved in product safety. This author discussed the issue of BPA in a recent post. The post was on October 20th and titled ?What is the status of bisphenol A in the United States?? In the post we mentioned and applauded the fact that Canada had recently declared this chemical toxic, and banned bottles containing it. In the U.S. the FDA had declared products with certain levels of BPA safe.

Recently in a USA TODAY article by Liz Szabo it was reported that the FDA ignored information about the danger posed by this chemical in plastic baby bottles. In fact, the excluded studies showed that BPA could pose harm to children at levels at least ten times lower than that the FDA says is safe. The article went on to site that the National Toxicology Program concluded that there is some concern that BPA alters development of the brain, prostrate, and behavior in children and fetuses.

Are you kidding me? This is where ?To thine own self be true.? comes in to play for procurement professionals. Are you doing enough to insure the safety of your customers, associates and stakeholders? Is it enough that trade organizations focus on safety? Or, is there more that as individuals we can all do.

This author believes there is. The first thing we can do is to make sure that the proper questions are being asked of our suppliers. This is more than asking manufacturers, suppliers, brokers and other for their certifications and affiliations. Begin by coming up with the list of questions you personally would like answers for from a supplier. By example, do the bottles you sell us contain BPA? That is a pretty straight forward question. You can follow on from there. A next step would be to review with your e-procurement provider what they have in place to hold suppliers accountable. How do they check for certifications? What certifications do they check for? What safety questions do they ask? How does their list compare with yours? Does a merged list from the both of you look better and allow you to sleep better at night?

Sometimes ?To thine own self be true.? Is the best protection of all?

We appreciate and look forward to your comments.

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