There is a major disconnect between the final consumer and modern agricultural
practices with issues such as rising population, global food trade
and inconsistent regulations from country to country.
There is a major disconnect between the final consumer and modern agricultural practices with issues such as rising population, global food trade and inconsistent regulations from country to country.

“Your brand is as secure as the standards of your weakest supplier,” says Dr. Patrick Wall, with the University College, Dublin, Ireland. “Ask yourself one question every day, ‘would you trust your suppliers to pack your parachute?’”

Dr. Wall stressed the importance of brand security and food safety in terms of feeding the growing population during his presentation, “Grasping the New Reality- Enough is Enough.”

He spoke earlier this year at Alltech’s 29th Annual International Symposium. The former veterinarian, medical doctor, businessman and European Food Safety Authority chairman says the curtain hasn’t fallen on food scares.

In fact, a chronology of food scares and recalls show up in the media every day. Working in the agri-food sector can be tumultuous, with outbreaks such as the 2001 United Kingdom foot and mouth epidemic, the 2008 dioxin crisis, H1N1 in 2009, and then Chinese avian flu and the PAN-European horsemeat scandal.

According to Wall, broken trust costs money. Tesco lost at least $300 million Euros in market value overnight after the horsemeat scandal leaked to the media.

“Your jobs are so important,” he says. “If something goes wrong in the food chain, the repercussions are huge. Everything an animal eats - so do we. It takes millions of dollars and years to build a brand, but it can take a few seconds to destroy it.”

Wall believes one problem with the food chain is that we have convinced the consumer it’s a straight line from farm to fork. However, there is a major disconnect between the final consumer and modern agricultural practices with issues such as a rising population, diverting food to fuel, global food trade, downward pressure on prices and inconsistent country regulations.

Wall suggests that every agricultural corporation grasp the new reality of the food chain and develop a fully integrated, risk-based system that includes these six points:

  1. Use the latest in composite testing: Consumers can now trace back food from the retail/catering Grasping the New Reality- Enough is Enough You’re not simply a link in the food chain – you are an active player in the human health business.
  2. Implement a stringent quality control and regulatory system, and develop a crisis plan: Thousands of negative tests can lull you into a false security – are you prepared for that one positive test?
  3. Develop a safe feed culture at the leadership level – it should be a core responsibility for company leaders
  4. Choose trusted suppliers: You can’t protect the food chain, but you can protect your link
  5. Manage a well-trained staff: Is your staff an asset or a liability?
  6. Be proactive with consumers and the media: Through the power of social networking, whether it’s truth or lies, millions will know in seconds

“We have the fundamental goal to provide safe, nutritious food. We are in the human health business. Doctors and nurses are in the sickness business,” Wall says. “What is our most valuable asset? It’s not your farm, your stock or shares. It’s your health and the health of your friends and family. Never forget that you are in the human health business.”

“It takes millions of dollars and years to build a brand, but it can take a few seconds to destroy it.”
- Dr.  Patrick Wall, University College, Dublin