However, Fabien Robert, Nestlé director of Quality Assurance Centers (NQAC) in Zone Americas, says this is not so much a new approach as a widening of standard practice.
“Historically, we have already been doing many analyses for our own suppliers,” Robert tells Food Quality & Safety. “So this is not something new, it’s something we’re doing—when you want to make sure that you have the right quality and safety controls in place, you need to have analytical testing that goes with that to confirm that food safety and quality is under control. We were doing it already, because if you want to control food safety properly, it’s all along the value chain.”
Nestlé is one of 35 members of the Global Food Safety Initiative’s Technical Working Group, and Robert says the company is committed to both fostering a culture of food safety and to working with outside entities and stakeholders to strive for continually increasing food safety standards.
“Food safety is not something you should keep on your own within your company if you want to be successful,” he says. “Within Nestlé, food safety is an area of high focus. It’s non-negotiable. What we realize is that if you want to manage food safety properly, you have to all do it across your value chain.”
The 80,000 square-foot Dublin, Ohio NQAC boasts a staff of 220, including microbiologists, chemists, food scientists, and quality specialists. The facility benefits from Nestlé’s broad business model, which has meant it is equipped to conduct analyses across an array of food products and raw materials.
“We can test very broadly on most food product categories,” explains Robert. “We have equipped this facility to satisfy all the needs for Nestlé, and it covers nearly every analytical test that you could need to have for ensuring food safety within your company, whoever you are.”
The NQAC offers testing of raw materials, environmental samples, and finished products for:
- hygiene indicators,
- nutritional parameters,
- chemical contaminants,
- pesticide and other residues,
- packaging material contamination, and
“We have no intentions to grow at fantastic speed,” Robert says. “There is no rush. Our main customers will be Nestlé suppliers at the first step—we’ll open our doors so we can use their services more broadly for all their production, if they’re interested. Then we open our door to any food manufacturer in need of testing. We will start very simply locally, around the area of Ohio. What it will be in three to five years, it is honestly hard to tell.”