QA’s New Advisory Board Members Discuss Global and Domestic Projections for 2017

Departments - From the Advisory Board

December 5, 2016
Among the greatest challenges the food industry will face in 2017 are the management of food integrity and authenticity and the mitigation of food fraud.
© Lalocracio | iStock.com

For 2017, QA has added two new members to its Advisory Board. Danone Senior Advisor Yves Rey of France brings an international perspective to the Board, while Northeastern University Professor Darin Detwiler brings the consumer perspective. Following are biographies of each of our two new members and their perspectives on current industry topics and expectations for 2017.


Yves Rey. Senior Advisor & Executive Director, Danone & UNOPS-IFAAO, Paris, France

YVES REY

Yves Rey is senior advisor, Danone  Board of Directors; senior advisor, United Nation Office for Project Services (UNOPS); and executive director, International Food Authenticity Assurance Organization (IFAAO). With more than 43 years of experience in leading global food, beverage and packaging companies in 10 different countries, Rey is the former Corporate Quality General Manager, Danone Group, and chairman the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) board. A French citizen and graduate of ENSAIA, France, Rey holds MS degrees in chemistry and biochemistry.

Rey started his career in 1975 with Heineken in production, then in 1982, joined Schweppes, first as plant manager and then as operations director. In 1991, he was appointed technical director of Coca-Cola. In 1994, he was appointed general manager for Europe of McCain Sunnyland, before moving on to become general manager South Europe of Wipak Flexible Packaging in 1999. Yves joined Groupe Danone in 2003 where held the position of corporate quality general manager until becoming senior advisor to Danone’s board in January 2015.

In 2016, Rey was appointed senior advisor to the United Nations office for project services in Asia Pacific and executive director of IFAAO, created to address the growing challenge of determining the authenticity of food ingredients.

Rey also serves as honorable advisor of China Food Safety Initiatives, a China-based NGO set up in partnership between the food industry and CFDA/AQSIQ, and as conference ambassador to the China International Food Safety and Quality (CIFSQ) conference. A GFSI board member since 2006, Rey was appointed to vice-chair from 2008 to 2011 and as chair from 2012 to 2014. Rey was on the board of directors for Safe Supply of Affordable Food Everywhere (SSAFE) and is working closely with CFDA, AQSIQ and CNCA in China on the global harmonization of food safety requirements, with USDA and FDA on food safety standards, with DG-Sanco in Europe on Food Fraud, and with CODEX, FAO and OIE on harmonized food safety standards and animal welfare.

REY’S 2017 INSIGHTS. Food manufacturers operate in an environment which must take into account consumer needs, their expectations for safe products, commercial realities and government requirements. What’s more, these multiple considerations must be satisfied against the background of an increasingly complex international environment. For example:

  • The global food system will need to double or even triple to feed nine billion people by 2050 on a planet already suffering from limited fresh water and farmland.
  • The food chain is longer and more complex than ever before: today’s modern supply chain can now clearly span the globe; food and food ingredients are rapidly moved across countries and between continents.
  • The laws, regulations, and legislation among the many nations participating in the global food trade are, unfortunately, too often inconsistent.
  • The consumer perceptions of risks, and their influence on purchasing behavior, are, in most cases, disconnected from science-based risk assessments.

The main actions that are imperative and must be carried out to achieve a safe global food supply chain can be counted on the fingers of one hand. We need:

  1. Harmonization of food safety regulations and laws around the world to ensure one safe and fair global food supply.
  2. Development of food science, and new technologies and products, to ensure the production of safe foods while maximizing yield and reducing costs.
  3. Adaptation of communication to align the ways consumers and experts think about risks and good nutrition with the aim of restoring consumers’ trust, which is at its worst.
  4. Assurances that energy, water, farm lands and other resources are used most efficiently, and that environmental impacts are minimized.
  5. And in keeping with a main principle that every improvement can be shaped around people skills and expertise: Promotion of the development of competencies and capacity building in food safety from farm to table to create a consistent and effective global food system.

As part of the main actions that are imperative to be implemented, and, more specifically, concerning the promotion of the development of competencies and of food science, the greatest challenges the food industry will be facing in 2017 are:

  • The creation, development and assessment of a behavior-based food safety management system, a food safety culture. It is with much regret that we should admit, despite the efforts made by the food industry to promote capacity building and competencies, that knowledge acquisition does not mean behavioral changes because, simply, unsafe behavior makes unsafe food.
  • The management of food integrity, food authenticity, and the mitigation of food fraud.
  • It is increasingly difficult for the food industry to assess the integrity and the potential adulteration of food ingredients

The key challenges the food industry is facing concerning food integrity are:

  • Lack of scientific foundation. The creation and publication of molecular profiles for food and ingredients could provide food operators with a solid foundation from which to launch a multiplicity of initiatives relating to food protection including biomarker identification and testing.
  • Lack of data and intelligence. Without data and intelligence, it’s impossible to develop plans, programs, systems and technologies.
  • Minimal cooperation/coordination. Geographic and political boundaries limit the harmonization of food integrity, fraud regulations, and laws.
  • Insensitivity to scope of problem. While we have a general understanding of how food safety hazards affect health, there is no information as to how food adulteration affects global health in a macro sense.

Today, it’s just as alarming to see the management of food integrity going off in all directions. There are so many initiatives implemented by food regulators in every corner of the world, global food companies, and academia, that if action is not taken now, it will lead to higher levels of complexity that will require painful equivalence, convergence and harmonization in the near future, just like food safety management systems a few years ago. As the former GFSI chairman, I know what I am talking about.

I do believe that food integrity, food authenticity, and food fraud mitigation comprise a shared risk and shared responsibility that ultimately requires all food stakeholders, government regulatory agencies, food-related companies and academia to combine efforts, resources, and knowledge toward a shared vision and more unified actions....Let’s lead the charge for a harmonized food integrity management system. The second new member of QA’s Advisory Board is Darin Detwiler.


Darin Detwiler. Consultant and Adjunct Instructor, Regulatory Affairs of Food and Food Industries, Northeastern University

DARIN DETWILER

Darin Detwiler, the founder and president of Detwiler Consulting Group, is director of the MS program in Regulatory Affairs of Food and Food Industry and professor of Food Policy at Northeastern University in Boston, Mass. Prior to this position, Detwiler was the senior policy coordinator for STOP Foodborne Illness. In 2004, the Secretary of Agriculture appointed him to two terms on the USDA’s National Advisory Committee for Meat and Poultry Inspection. Detwiler went on to support the FDA’s progress toward implementation of FSMA by bringing forward the true burden of disease to various federal, state, and industry audiences.

Detwiler is a sought-after speaker and has addressed key food safety issues at corporate and regulatory training events, as well as national and international events in Spain, Dubai, and the UK. He has been featured as a speaker before VTEC, STEC CAP, Food Safety Consortium, Food Safety Summit, AFDO regional events, FDA regional seminars, and multiple state public and environmental health conferences. He serves on numerous committees and advisory panels related to food science, nutrition, fraud, and policy; is a contributing writer to food industry publications; and is quoted frequently by journalists across the country.

A consumer food safety advocate since 1993, Detwiler has been featured in a national news stories on food safety with media such as The New York Times, Food Safety News, CNN, NPR, PBS’s Frontline, and ABC’s Good Morning America. A Navy submarine veteran, Detwiler holds a Doctorate in Law and Policy at Northeastern University with his research on state food regulatory capacity and alignment with federal policy.

DETWILER ON 2016 LESSONS. I believe that one of the most important food industry events of 2016 was that of Chipotle’s NYSE stock value performing worse than some models predicted.  After the chain’s multiple outbreaks across the country in 2015, their fourth quarter 2015 and first quarter 2016 stock values mirrored the economic models found in a 2012 study of other food incidents: “The impact of food safety events on the value of food-related firms: An event study approach.” However, Chipotle’s did not gain a return toward its pre-event value by the end of 2016 as the models predicted. 

The study’s model cannot guarantee a company’s stock performance, however it creates an opportunity to explore the cause for Chipotle’s deviation from what other similar companies experienced.  In my column “The Special on This Year’s Menu: Change” (February/March, 2016), I wrote that Chipotle could represent a new trend in how food companies’ responses to large-scale outbreak or recall events result in policy change driven by a large and growing population of vocal stakeholders: consumers.  Essentially, based on their learning of the outbreaks, customers voted with their dollars and chose to spend elsewhere.

Outside of a few out-of-court settlements, the company cannot place blame for its financial fallout on anything other than consumer perception and a loss of brand loyalty.  Perhaps the lessons to be learned by industry are 1) the need to mitigate recalls and outbreaks and 2) the economic impact of consumers’ reaction to such incidents. 

2017 INSIGHTS. With the implementation of FSMA underway, 2017 will see a shift in focus on states’ legislative alignment and how they use their resources to regulate under the Act. States vary in terms of the agencies that inspect retail and restaurants, and FSMA’s goal is to use these same state agencies to inspect farm and food production facilities. In passing FSMA, Congress acknowledged the need for strengthening state infrastructure while spreading the regulatory role across the 50 states (as well as to tribal and territorial governments). However, today, 25 states use public health while 19 other states use agriculture agencies. The remaining five states use other forms or combinations of regulatory agencies.

Many FDA personnel have indicated that if state agencies are operating under the same standards as FDA, with the same level of rigor and quality in terms of providing protection, they would have confidence that the states are providing the same level of protection. But others have indicated a preference for states to use public health agencies, with concerns over conflicts of interest that would exist in a state’s department of agriculture promoting produce when they are the frontline for regulatory oversight.

Though Congress passed FSMA and the President signed FSMA into law, not one of the 50 states, as of this writing, has passed any sweeping changes to its state laws enabling its agencies to enforce the Act. The closest comparison to be made would be the FDA Food Code used by local, state, tribal, and federal regulators as a “scientifically sound technical and legal basis” for regulating restaurants, grocery stores, and institutions such as nursing homes. But only seven states have adopted the current 2013 FDA Food Code. The 2009 version of the FDA Food Code is still used in 23 states, while 21 states have laws based on 10-year-old versions of the Code. Sadly, South Dakota and Minnesota are still using versions of the Food Code that are 20 years old.

If this serves as a reflection of states’ timeline for adopting legislation in alignment of FSMA, the implementation of this food safety act may take longer than anticipated for a truly complete and integrated food safety system to protect consumers and build their trust.