Fantastic new resource for SA food industrialists of every ilk
It's time to be introduced to Food Focus, www.foodfocus.co.za, which, dear reader, is a place to bookmark if you are involved in any way in producing or marketing food and drinks in South Africa, or servicing those industries.
Here's how Food Focus can be of help to you – some examples:
- The food-drinks sector is alive with start-ups and entrepreneurs, but how do you even begin to set up such a business? What's involved in terms of food safety, environmental compliance, labelling issues?
- Consumers are increasingly squeamish about additives. How can I find out their legal levels allowed in SA foodstuffs?
- What exactly are the quality requirements my customers expect of my product?
- I've moved my business up a level, and I need to implement a formal food safety management system. Help!
- How do I add the requirements of other management systems such as quality, OHS or environmental into my food safety management system without drowning in paperwork and duplication?
- I know my food suppliers can have a critical impact on my business. Although I cannot completely affect what they do behind closed doors, how can I implement review strategies to lessen my raw material risks?
Who's behind Food Focus?
The founding directors of Food Focus are (R-L) Linda Jackson, Adele Krogh and Bridget Day - and if you have been in the local food industry for a while, chances are that you've met them, been trained or audited by them, heard them speak at symposia or read something that they have written for the food sector.
"We've launched Food Focus essentially as a compliance portal; how to do things the right way," explains Jackson.
"We cover a broad food spectrum, from growers, processors and manufacturers all the way through to distributors and the food service sector – with the aim of providing comprehensive compliance resources; making critical knowledge accessible in a way that is understandable and easy to implement to help resolve the complex compliance issues they face."
So how did it all start?
"It began as a friendship, a meeting of the minds; with a shared passion for the food industry and the need to make a difference," says Jackson.
"We have tried to do this in a few different ways during our careers – training, consulting, auditing. But we always met with the same limitation – we can only be in one place at one time. Food Focus changes that for us. We can connect people to people, people to information, and problems to sector-specific solutions."
Food Focus looks closely at food safety and quality, but it also addresses the range of factors which food businesses have to face, including occupational health and safety hazards, environmental demands, corporate social responsibility and risk management.
"We have always wanted to help our clients do the right things. Making food safely, keeping employees safe and building the right culture, being responsible corporate citizens and minimising any impact on our natural environment – these are all demands that businesses are facing”
"But we no longer see these things as separate compliance issues – they are all linked. We now have created a single platform where we can talk about all of these issues and connect the dots. This way we hope to help companies implement effective systems that will meet audit requirements and, more importantly, will support their business strategies."
Connecting the dots
Beyond information and a library of useful articles, the website also aims to play matchmaker between customers and suppliers by creating a platform for service providers. It provides free listings, advertising opportunities and a showcase for service providers to promote their new products and latest offerings.
Since services play a fundamental role in compliance by helping customers meet requirements or manage hazards, access to relevant service solutions is seen as another way to assist users to achieve compliance.
"We obviously don't know everything about everything - but that's okay, because we are good at digging up answers, researching, and reaching out to the people, the recognised experts and service providers who do have the answers," concludes Jackson.