Since our session at the Food Safety Summit, our panelists have realized the opportunity and benefit of directly addressing small, very small, and start-up companies. For example, we can create a simple ‘start here’ video – or a ‘resource for small businesses – for food fraud prevention resources and training.
This is a follow-up to my blog post review of our 2023 Food Safety Summit session on “The Supply Chain – Ranking Suppliers and Monitoring Execution of Food Safety Specifications.”
My co-panelists included:
- Andrea Anase, Senior Manager, Global Food Safety, PepsiCo
- Donna Schaffner, Associate Director of the Food Innovation Center, Rutgers University
- Deb Kane, VP of Food Safety and Quality, J&J Snack Foods Corporation
- Vera Petrova-Dickenson, Principal, Innova-Q
A significant insight from our sessions was the focus on large, medium, and small companies. Donna helped us expand that to also include very small or start-up companies. Over the last two weeks, our group has discussed that this focus on the full range of users has been very insightful. We’ve been looking at our programs and how messaging can be adjusted to encourage and enable smaller companies to not only minimally comply but to protect their products effectively. Small, very small, and start-up companies are especially vulnerable to even the most minor marketing or financial hit. They are small or new and often do not have the resources – human resources, legal teams, insurance, or financial cushion – to weather the storm or a recall or investigation.
We all realized that we have resources and support for small, very small, and start-up companies, but we often do not communicate our ability and willingness to help.
Messaging for Supporting Small/ Very Small/ Start-up Companies
One of the first and easiest actions can be to have a section or web page dedicated to “Supporting Small/ Very Small/ Start-up Companies.” For example, our www.FoodFraudPrevention.com website has a lot of resources, training, and education that are free and start with baby steps that can be completed with few resources. That said, the entire library of resources could be overwhelming for someone who is new to the food fraud prevention topic. For example, we’ve been expanding our primer documents into more and more detailed areas, such as the Food Fraud Suspicious Activity Report Method (FFSAR) or Organic Product Fraud Compliance. These additional resources may overwhelm the readers since we did not (yet) provide simpler starting points.
Our Call to Action for Ourselves
During our food fraud prevention content development, we realized we should create a starting point for small/ very small/ start-up companies. We could create a “Start here” and “Overview of food fraud prevention” series of videos or blogs. Generative AI results should quickly find the basic resources. Internet keyword searches should lead users to those resources.
New basic resources that are now under development:
- “Start here for Food Fraud Prevention” video series.
- “Start here for Small/ Very Small/ Start-up Companies” primer document.
When these resources are in place, we can provide them for this specific group of users, and we also have a chance to get feedback from this unique set of users (small/ very small/ start-up companies). Convening and participating in sessions as we had at the Food Safety Summit – and interacting with our co-panelists – we keep creating an opportunity to hear any confusion or changing needs of a wide range of users.
Overall, when we communicate to and from small/ very small/ start-up companies, we help them stay in business while we protect the food supply chain by supporting efficient food safety compliance.
- Food fraud prevention has many simple first steps that do not require a lot of time or resources.
- Often, food fraud vulnerability assessments and prevention strategies can be quickly and thoroughly developed and implemented.
- For food fraud prevention and overall food safety management, it is helpful to consider the messaging and procedures for small, very small, and start-up companies.