The unprecedented circumstances surrounding the Coronavirus pandemic are presenting new risks and challenges throughout the food supply chain. While countries around the world remain in lockdown, the food service sector is largely shut down but demand in the retail sector has soared.

Food production, distribution and retail services are facing radical shifts in demand that are placing them under significant strain as they try to run at higher productivity often with fewer employees as a result of illness and restrictions on movement. Working environments have become more restrictive and labour shortages mean work is often being carried out by new or inexperienced staff members.

These operational challenges have led to increased compliance risks across many areas of operations covering HR, health & safety, environment, fraud and food safety areas.

Just three real examples are highlighted below:

  • An elevated risk of food fraud: Shortages raw materials are often accompanied by price rises and an associated increased risk of fraudsters entering the market with substituted products, extended products or false claims.

 

  • Concerns over employee safety: Health and safety risks can increase if sites employ more temporary workers as a result of increased rates of absenteeism or to cover additional shifts due to increased demand or slower line speeds.

 

  • Inaccurate ingredient declaration and nutritional information on packaging: Shortages of raw materials may result in substitution which could affect the label declaration or product formulations may have to change due to shortages. There are implications for ingredient declaration and nutritional information and, ultimately, for consumer safety

 

While we adjust to the ‘new normal’ and focus on getting the job done, consumer and customer confidence and trust must remain paramount. Employees need to understand that, even though things are different, wrongdoing is never acceptable. It’s never OK to cut corners, disregard procedures or ignore policies – no matter how unusual the circumstances.

Management teams (who may well be running at reduced capacity as a result of the virus) need to be aware of and deal with any ethical, compliance or safety concerns that may arise and deal with them quickly and effectively.

In the current circumstances a simple, effective and well publicised confidential reporting solution can be a key element in managing and mitigating compliance risk and keeping businesses running effectively. It also lets employees know that, even in these unusual circumstances, you’re still listening.

Increasingly organisations are turning to external providers of whistleblowing solutions for confidential reporting. This makes for easy compliance with new regulations such as the EU Whistleblowing Directive (December 2019) also assures the highest levels of security, confidentiality and, where appropriate, anonymity. The most effective solutions have 4 simple features:

  1. Multiple reporting channels (web, phone, app etc.) to make reporting simple and straightforward
  2. Support for multiple languages reflecting the international nature of most businesses
  3. Effective case management tools to aid in the efficient and confidential investigation of reports
  4. Fast implementation paths to ensure you drive value from your solution quickly

 

There are very few positives associated with this devastating pandemic. But all parts of the food supply chain are playing a critical role in maintaining the health and wellbeing of our communities. There is a clear and newfound respect for key workers in our industry and an opportunity to cement public trust in the quality of our products and services.

Don’t let compliance failures undermine that trust. Ensure that you have a confidential reporting system in place that surfaces possible issues and concerns early and allows you to deal with them quickly and effectively.

Further Resources

  • Download the BRCGS whitepaper for further information about selecting a confidential reporting system.

BRCGS Confidential Reporting System – Simple 3 Step Process

Next Steps

  • To request a demo, please email contactus@brcgs.com