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Supply chain at the heart of food safety

The desire to see ethical practice and the drive towards sustainability has put the supply chain under increasing scrutiny and for many of our industry attending the Food Safety Europe conference, the growing demand for quality standards and reliability in cleaning, hygiene and health and safety supplies will be firmly on the agenda.

On one level, the food and drink sector is facing uncertainty over regulation following Brexit; on another an ever more discerning consumer who wants to know where their food comes from. Add to this both the threat of big fines for failures in food safety – consider the £130k penalty given to a High Street retail chain after mice were found at two of its stores – and the news that food manufacturers will be expected to meet the costs of food safety inspections under plans from the Food Standards Agency, and closer working relationships with trusted suppliers becomes all the more important.

As a distributor of health and safety equipment and facilities supplies, we acknowledge the part we play. Guthrie Group was the first in the market sector in the UK to achieve the BRC Global Standard in Storage and Distribution. In 2016, it become one of the first companies in Scotland to achieve the new ISO 9001:2015 certification from BSI, and is the only company in its field in Scotland to hold both certifications.

We are also constantly researching new products and delighted to be working with industry leaders such as Pure Hold and Byotrol as their principle Scottish distributors.

International standards are and will always be important, but shouldn’t Scotland also have its own smart solutions to ensure that the products are always on-site when and where they are needed? For the supply chain to operate effectively, it also needs to be efficient, delivered by a customer focused strategy that understands a client’s business needs. In addition it requires to offer the ability to respond quickly to dynamic changes as required.

Having been in business for more than 30 years, we are extremely proud of our customer satisfaction levels. Results of a customer service survey undertaken by a third party market research company in October 2010 stated “The response to questions from the Guthrie Group customers threw up an almost 100 per cent positive correlation between questions and answers which is almost impossibly high and the reason we wondered if we were talking to Guthrie Group employees.”

So while the issues of processes and procedures, new regulations and traceability will always dominate the food safety debate, I will also argue that trust in a supplier is also critical. That is what will ultimately ensure standards are met.