Food safety high on the agenda for CP Kelco

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25 Sep 2017 --- As a leading producer of specialty hydrocolloids, CP Kelco operates its worldwide network of manufacturing facilities with a single quality standard to ensure consistent, defect-free, high-performance food ingredients that meet the most stringent food quality requirements. According to the company, an unwavering commitment to quality, innovation and customer service sets CP Kelco apart from other ingredient suppliers.

From a quality and food safety standpoint, CP Kelco wants to ensure quality assurance to its customers across the board, and according to Steve Sullivan, Sr. Director, Supply Chain and Quality Management at CP Kelco, there has never been a better time to highlight this. 

“At CP Kelco, we believe that we have a strong competitive advantage in our product offerings and with our food safety risk management approach,” he tells FoodIngredientsFirst. “We have the exact same standards for our operations in Europe, the US, Latin America and in China – whether it’s from an environmental, or quality and food safety perspective. Our biggest customers are impressed and often surprised when they see that our high standards really do apply in each of our plants around the world.”  

“This is a key competitive differentiator,” explains Sullivan, “But global competition is tough. While there are cost trends and pressures hitting the food supply chain, the growing focus on natural, non-GMO, and organic presents additional factors driving consumer preference, with a stronger expectation and understanding of food safety underneath it all,” he notes.

“In the long-term, our high standards will prevail,” Sullivan adds. “We need to be patient with the consumer preferences, as cost becomes less of a factor and capability becomes more critical – I believe that is a strong point for the business.”

During his 12 years with CP Kelco, Sullivan has seen and addressed many concerns in the area of food safety. “The control of microbiological hazards and managing this risk, starting from our suppliers all the way through our customers' supply chain, is an extremely high focus area for us,” Sullivan says. “From a food safety perspective, our overall intent is to understand the risk of physical, biological and chemical hazards (including allergens), and develop risk-based approaches to build preventive controls to address those process hazards.”

According to Sullivan, the main challenge in terms of regulatory compliance is being a US-based company, with most business conducted outside of the US. He says, “Given our operations in Asia, Europe and Latin America, we utilize a 'glocal' approach and vision: we produce locally but ship products globally, requiring us to meet both local and global product regulatory requirements and ensuring all our facilities are meeting the same global standards.”

Considering such movements of ingredients and final products around the world, CP Kelco is vigilant in monitoring and addressing food safety issues of growing concern to global food companies, such as food fraud. “When looking at Food Defense programs or best practices to reduce the risk of food fraud, we rise up to what we believe are the latest and most comprehensive regulatory standards,” Sullivan says. “In the US, we have built programs and implement globally against US requirements, such as those defined in the Food Safety Modernization Act (from the US Food and Drug Administration – FDA), and in Europe and other regional locations around the world, we work toward that high standard.”

“In my view, our biggest focus and opportunity over the next five years is around our supply chain,” says Sullivan. “We have a lot of natural and organically derived inputs to our products and processes, and agricultural markets play a big role. For us, it’s not only about going one step back in the supply chain but going two or three steps back to address the risks of the farm and of the supplier. Many of the sustainability opportunities we have thought about for some time are just as significant as quality and food safety risk mitigation opportunities.”

Organizational and process design is also an area of opportunity for CP Kelco, as the company pursues full integration of quality and food safety standards across the overall integrated supply chain. “There are many synergies within the business, from the better risk assessment of suppliers and ingredients to integrating sanitary or hygienic design standards into engineering and plant projects, to our downstream processes around storage and sanitary transportation of ingredients to our global customer base,” Sullivan explains. “Each step in our business presents a key integration point to ‘Design for Food Safety,’ and this continues to be a good opportunity to further enhance our business in the coming years.”

By Elizabeth Green

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