(Editor’s Note: This is an online-only article attributed to the December/January 2018 issue.)
Food safety has taken a front seat, and conscientious consumers are more dedicated to the cause than ever. This increased awareness has inspired industry leaders to make a concerted effort to revamp their food safety efforts in the name of transparency.
Today, however, the impetus for conversations surrounding food safety is no longer directly spurred by unsavory events within the food industry. As a true topic of interest to consumers, many have expressed their concern, imploring companies to be proactive, rather than reactive. In this way, Graeter’s Ice Cream has continued to build a high level of trust among its consumers over the course of its 145 years history; in turn, becoming an ambassador for food safety industry-wide. This is accomplished, in large part, by a dedicated team of highly skilled food safety specialists.
The Weight of Food Safety Within Today’s Culture
Within the past couple years, a growing awareness of particularly stubborn pathogens, such as Listeria, have become a distinct focus of the ice cream category. Several distinguished brands have made a public commitment to proactivity in the food safety realm, and fellow companies can strive for similar excellence by learning from and incorporating the industry-best practices these brands utilize.
For instance, dedicating the same time, attention to detail, and heart to food safety that it puts into each handcrafted French Pot batch of ice cream, Graeter’s has achieved a SQF Level 3 Certification. With that attained, the company’s best practices have become even more fine-tuned to ensure it continues to serve consumers with utter confidence in its product.
Achieving SQF Level 3 Certification
Members of the Graeter’s Ice Cream team might admit that achieving the SQF Level 3 Certification was, in fact, a challenging experience. However, the benefits are worth the effort. Consumers who purchase a pint at their local grocery store or walk into a scoop shop for a hand-dipped cone can instill their trust in Graeter’s Ice Cream—as well as the brand’s commitment to food safety.
While working towards its SQF Level 3 Certification, Graeter’s first made adjustments to fit the requirements as a result of its unique way of making and packing ice cream. While the SQF Level 2 Certification specifies food safety, Level 3 specifies food quality.
This posed challenges for Graeter’s, as it is a company that holds the quality of each small batch to only the highest standards. From texture and creaminess to the size of its signature chocolate chips, Graeter’s relies on its skilled technicians to create these parameters. As a result, an adapted process for achieving SQF Level 3 was applied. The brand implemented four critical elements into its strict food safety regimen. Companies interested in garnering the same trust Graeter’s has can focus their efforts on these tips for food safety success.
Be adaptive. Most are already familiar with the unique French Pot Process Graeter’s uses to handcraft its ice cream. It is this same precision that ensures the brand consistently produces a safe product. The industry’s most dedicated companies are following suit, calling upon food safety teams to create environments and protocols that do the same.
However, Graeter’s knew that whichever food safety certification it pursued would have to be from both a reputable and respected institution, while also allowing Graeter’s the freedom to maintain its specialty process for producing ice cream. The Safe Quality Food institute proved to be what the brand needed. SQF requires a rigorous, credible food safety management system, and simultaneously, is the only scheme to integrate a quality component.
Look at the entire process. It can be tempting to create a food safety and quality plan from a desk where you can accomplish the end result very easily and efficiently. However, it is important to create your company’s plan with each department and process in mind. If a change is made in distribution, it can negatively impact inventory control or production, among others. Consequently, all departments within a company must work together in order for the entire system to function properly.