Americans today have become seasoned food critics, from assessing the nutritional value to understanding the sourcing of ingredients. In a Harris Poll commissioned this summer, nearly 4 in 5 Americans said they are concerned about food safety. More than 3 in 5 indicated that food contamination is the food safety issue that most concerns them.
Amid these concerns, the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) is implementing more rigorous food safety standards as the final preventative rules it issued related to the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) take effect this month.
FSMA, which was signed into US law in 2011 and which Nestlé supports, gives the FDA greater enforcement authority while introducing new food safety management requirements for all FDA-regulated products. And the agency is already full steam ahead in implementation: just last week it announced $21 million in state funding to help implement its produce safety rule, providing education and technical assistance to meet the minimum standards for safely growing, harvesting, packing and storing fruits and vegetables for our consumption.
Regulation like this plays an important role in our industry, but forward-thinking companies and those looking out for consumers must set a higher bar. This notion resonates with us at Nestlé, the world’s largest food company. With Nestlé products in 97% of US households, consumers have a right to expect more from us — and we hold ourselves accountable for their safety.
Forward-thinking companies and those looking out for consumers must set a higher bar
But a company does not celebrate its 150th birthday, as Nestlé is this year, by being complacent or satisfied — especially when it comes to food quality and safety. Complying with the FDA’s food safety requirements is all well and good, but we cannot expect laws and regulations to fully anticipate and protect our consumers from food safety concerns.
This is why beyond just compliance, we’ve publicly called for Congress to prioritize funding of FSMA to advance the way we and other food manufacturers keep our products safe at each step in the supply chain.
When it comes to food safety, doing just what is required will never be enough. Nestlé understands this, and we’re investing in it, too — to the tune of $31 million and 32,000 square feet, the latest expansion of the Nestlé Quality Assurance Center (NQAC) in Dublin, Ohio, now the largest and most sophisticated testing facility in the Nestlé network and possibly the world.
There, our guardians of food safety — more than 220 chemists, microbiologists, food scientists and quality specialists — analyze Nestlé products and ingredients from throughout the Americas in about one million tests a year (that’s one test every 30 seconds!).
Nestlé not only meets federal requirements for food safety, but exceeds them
Beyond the NQAC, Nestlé’s global procurement team sets strict standards and thoroughly vets our vendors, and our factories validate and closely manage product and process controls to ensure the safety and quality of our products.
We never stop monitoring and verifying that the products that are destined for your pantry or refrigerator meet our stringent requirements. The Dublin facility was designed to provide tools, technologies and expert resources to ensure that Nestlé not only meets federal requirements for food safety, but exceeds them.
We understand that consumers put 'Big Food' companies like us — with more than 330,000 employees, hundreds of factories and sales that reach 189 countries — under the microscope. We welcome such scrutiny, which is why we invite you to see for yourself what’s going on in Dublin and the 24 other NQAC labs around the world. These facilities are among the many reasons why Nestlé is acknowledged as the industry benchmark for food safety and compliance.
Yes, we’re the world’s largest food company, and our size is matched by a commensurate commitment to nutrition, health, wellness and food safety.
Paul Grimwood is the chairman and CEO of Nestlé USA.