Pesticides: the Criteria to Identify Endocrine Disruptors.

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Current Status

O n April 20, 2018, the European Commission published  the criteria to identify endocrine disrupting properties in plant protection products, in the Official Commission Regulation 2018/605, containing Journal. The criteria will apply starting on October 20, 2018. This ends a multi-year process by the Commission to move the criteria forward.


I n June 2016, the European Commission (EC) published a draft legal act under the Plant Protection

Products legislation (1107/2009)[1], which sets the criteria to identify endocrine disruptors. The EC’s proposal takes a hazard-based approach, as it does not require information on a substance’s potency, exposure, or other risk-based assessment factors to identify it as an endocrine disruptor. This proposal also included a derogation, which is allowing the setting of maximum residue levels (MRLs) and import tolerances for substances identified as endocrine disruptors, if there is negligible risk of exposure to humans.

Although the original Commission proposal included both the criteria for identifying endocrine

disruptors and the derogation for use, the Commission separated the proposal in December 2016 and presented the criteria and the derogation as two separate acts. In a later stage, the Commission only presented the proposal for the ED criteria without the derogation.

The Commission presented a new draft regulation late 2017, leaving out a controversial paragraph for substances controlling targeted organisms other than vertebrates, after objections by the European Parliament. On December 13, 2017, the PAFF committee adopted the Regulation to identify endocrine disrupting properties under Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009 (on Plant Protection Products).

The Commission reminded the Committee that it would come forward again with a technical amendment to a derogation under the Plant Protection Products Regulation, once the draft criteria were adopted. Following the Member State experts’ approval in December, the Commission sent the draft

Regulation to the European Parliament and the Council for 3 months of scrutiny until April 9, 2018 in order to examine the draft measure and raise any objections (comitology procedure with scrutiny).

The Commission then officially adopted the criteria, since neither the Parliament, or Council raised

objections. The criteria will apply to the active substance evaluations that are ongoing. There are many substances where the re-evaluation dossier has been submitted but a decision has not been taken. The Commission wants these evaluations to be updated to take the criteria into account.

EFSA and ECHA Guidance Document

EFSA and ECHA are preparing a joint Guidance document related to the implementation of the criteria,

[1] On June 15, 2016, the European Commission presented two draft measures outlining scientific criteria to identify endocrine disruptors (EDs) under the Plant Protection Products Regulation (1107/2009) as well as for the Biocidal Products Regulation (528/2012), using the World Health Organization (WHO) definition for EDs as a basis.

which will be finalized before the criteria go into implementation. According to the European Chemical

Agency (ECHA) and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), the guidance document will be

available in June 2018 when the criteria for biocides become applicable.

Technical Amendment to the Derogation
T he Commission previously indicated that it would discuss the amendment to the derogation again after the adoption of the criteria, but it is still unclear when and how this will happen.

For substances which are identified as endocrine disruptors, a derogation for use may be possible if there is negligible risk of exposure to humans (this amends the previous legislation that stated the derogation is only possible if there is negligible exposure) or if the substance is indispensable for agriculture. This derogation proposal would theoretically allow the setting of maximum residue levels (MRLs) and import tolerances.

However, this kind of “regulation by derogation” is still likely to significantly disrupt trade

of agricultural products

Potential Trade Impact

According to an industry study, approximately $6,3 billion of U.S. exports to the E.U. of agricultural commodities could be affected by this policy change.

The largest effects would be in exports of nuts/almonds ($2.4 billion), soybeans and groundnuts ($2 billion) and wheat ($208 million). Inclusion of processed food and feed products from these commodities would increase the potential effect to $4.8billion. This issue is of major concern to the EU’s trading partners.

Source  – GAIN Report:E18028; 

Approved By:Lisa Allen

Prepared By:Tania De Belder

How interesting is it to export to Japan?

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Overall Market Summary

T he Japanese food processing industry is one of the worlds’ most advanced and sophisticated. Japan’s food manufacturers produce a wide variety of products, from traditional Japanese foods to health foods for infants and the elderly. Japanese food producers focus mainly on the domestic market, balancing the need to maintain market share with traditional product lines while developing creative products to attract consumers, who are always on the lookout for new and innovative foods. As a result, Japanese food manufacturing is characterized by high rates of product turnover.

T he largest food processing companies developed from traditional breweries that expanded their portfolios to include foods, distilled spirits, beverages, etc… Several other market leaders emerged from the dairy industry. Processed food products that are increasing in popularity include yogurt, meat, soups, and ramen. Popular beverage items include tea, vegetable juice, distilled spirits, and energy drinks. Frozen foods consumption has recently grown as well, due to their convenience and improvement in product quality. As more people seek single-size portions or do not have time to cook every meal, convenience and packaging are critical factor in product development.


M arket entry takes time in Japan, especially for ingredient suppliers. Manufactures are frequently searching for specific ingredients but can be unwilling to disclose new product development plans, and may be reluctant to candidly discuss product sourcing needs.

T he challenge for U.S. ingredient suppliers, therefore, is to build a relationship with potential manufacturer partners so that when new product needs arise, you will have a pre-existing relationship. In order to capitalize on those opportunities it is important have product and representation in-country. Therefore, building a relationship with a local importer is a critical early step.

Domestic Companies

The Japanese food processing industry is dominated by 15 major companies of which Kirin Holdings Co., Ltd is the largest (See Company Profiles). Total production of processed foods, excluding beverage and alcohol, has risen continuously except for a short-term slump from 2008 to 2011.

Ready-to-eat meals, processed grain products, and livestock products have been the main drivers of that growth. Growth in production of ready-to-eat meals in particular has been strong, increasing 54.1% from 2010 to 2017 per the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

Key Market Drivers

Key market drivers for the food processing sector include:

 Continued diversification of the Japanese diet.

 As the number of women entering the workforce continues to increase– and marriage and fertility rates continue to decline– it is increasingly common that Japanese consumers purchase prepared foods instead of cooking at home.

 A declining and aging population.

 Weak economic environment, causing processors to seek out lower-cost food inputs and international processing options to maintain competitive prices. (However, a weak Japanese yen has recently caused a slowdown in import growth).

 Heightened consumer and retailer food safety concerns.

 Increasing interest in health and functional foods with an emphasis on the needs of the growing senior population.

Large food processors and retailers are increasingly purchasing sizeable quantities of product directly from trading companies.

USDA Foreign Agricultural Service. GAIN Report Number: JA8503

Check list for market entry.

Market Structure & Entry

The Japanese market structure and distribution system is different from the U.S. or European Marjet. The following illustration is a basic flowchart showing how imported products tend to enter and move through the traditional Japanese distribution system (US point of view):
Ingredient products will most likely be handled by a:

  1. General trading company
  2. First-line wholesaler
  3. Second-line wholesaler
  4. Food processor

Market Entry

It can be difficult to enter the Japanese market. Regulations on ingredients and additives are very strict, and exporters must ensure that their products are permitted in Japan. For additional information, please see below (Section C. 1.). As part of the product clearance and approval process, it is also common that local processors and the Japanese government request a great deal of specific information regarding product handling and composition. In addition, Japanese manufacturers have a reputation for demanding very high standards of product quality and consistency; while also having a reputation for working collaboratively with suppliers to develop long term supply relationships.

Despite the work involved, the Japanese market has enormous potential.
Strategies for entering the Japanese market will vary depending on product characteristics, competition, and the market environment. However, buyers in the food and beverage industry often prefer to find new products at large trade shows, or specially-targeted trade showcases, where they can look at many products at once. Therefore, the best way to learn about the market while getting the chance to talk to potential business partners is to participate in one of Japan’s many trade shows.

The largest food related trade show in Japan is FOODEX Japan, which takes place every March. Depending on your target market, other smaller trade shows can also be useful

Entrance Strategy

Before You Start:

  1. Ensure your company has the production capacity to commit to the market.
  2. Ensure your company has the financial and non-financial (staff, time, etc.) resources to actively support your exported product(s).
  3. Evaluate whether your company has the ability to tailor your product’s packaging and ingredients to meet foreign import regulations, food safety standards, and cultural preferences.
  4. Evaluate whether your company has the necessary knowledge to ship overseas, such as being able to identify and select international freight forwarders, manage climate controls, and navigate export payment mechanisms, such as letters of credit.



Products that offer health and beauty or anti-aging benefits have always been popular in the Japanese market. A recent study showed that over 70% of Japanese feel the need to live a healthy lifestyle, and over 90% of women have experience dieting. A healthy diet is an extremely valued concept. The official definition of functional foods (FOSHU) and drinks in Japan is “food which is expected to have a specified effect on health due to the relevant constituents or food from which allergens have been removed” such as dietary fiber, oligosaccharides, non-calorie sweeteners, calcium, iron, mineral absorption promoters, beta-carotene, chitosan, specified soy protein, collagen, polyphenols, lutein (e.g. blueberry smoothies) lactic acid bacteria cultures (e.g. yogurt or chocolate), soy isoflavones, and germinated brown rice (GABA) have been included.

Research has shown that over 80% of Japanese women are aware of the term “anti-aging.” Japanese green tea (maccha) has a well known reputation for containing ingredients to make skin beautiful. Maccha products contain the entire leaf, ground to powder. Through mass media and SNS, maccha- based beverages and foods have enjoyed continued gains in popularity.

Another example of such products is a popular gummy candy that has added collagen to improve skin health. Food manufacturers are
always looking for the next anti-
aging breakthrough ingredients,

so exporters of ingredients with documented anti-aging properties are well positioned ot take advantage of that demand. It is especially helpful if exporters can offer something that is not yet widely available.

The major distribution line for these functional food products is through supermarkets and convenience stores.


Seven strategies to reduce pesticide usage.

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Pesticides play a sensitive role in food systems: they are applied in order to protect crops, but they can have negative impacts on environment and human health. While global pesticide use has grown to 3.5 billion kg active ingredients per year, a significant portion of the chemicals applied has proved to be excessive, uneconomic or unnecessary both in industrialized and developing countries.

Today there is a consensus among a wide range of stakeholders that pesticide use needs to be gradually reduced to a level that is effectively required to ensure crop production, and that risks of pesticide application need to be reduced as far as possible.

Here are listed 7 strategies available for pesticide reduction.

1. Agronomic practices.

Suitable agronomic practices are essential to achieve healthy crops and to prevent build-up of pest, disease and weed pressure. The following practices are of particular importance:

  • Appropriate plant nutrition and soil fertility management;
  • Crop rotation;
  • Appropriate irrigation management;
  • Appropriate timing of sowing or planting and of intercultural operations in order to reduce pest;
  • Timely shallow tillage reduces weed populations and at the same time improves nutrient supply to the crop;
  • Precision farming like spraying of hot-spots and weeding with optical detectors;
  • Intercropping (when it is possible) and the use of variety mixtures limits the spread of pests and diseases and provides food and shelter for natural enemies of pests;

2. Resistant crops

Crops and crop varieties differ in their susceptibility to pests and diseases and in their ability to compete with weeds. Growing crops suitable for local conditions and selecting appropriate crop varieties is therefore fundamental to a preventive pest management system. The use of resistant varieties together with rotations of non-susceptible crops can substantially limit pest build-up within a field.

3. Bio-control and Natural Pesticides

Bio-control makes use of pathogens (bacteria, fungi, viruses), insect predators or parasitoids, pheromones and insect traps to keep pest populations low.

The total eradication of a pest, which results from the use of synthetic pesticides, would reduce the food supply of the pest’s natural enemies, undermining a key element in system resilience. The aim, therefore, should be to manage insect pest populations to the point where natural predation operates in a balanced way and crop losses to pests are kept to an acceptable minimum.

4. Integrated Pest Management (IPM)

IPM is an ecosystem approach that does not seek to eradicate pests – but rather to manage them. It is founded on the idea that the first and most fundamental line of defense against pests and diseases in agriculture is a healthy agro-ecosystem, in which the biological processes that underpin production are protected, encouraged and enhanced.

A close approach to these principles is the common GlobalG.A.P. protocol even if it is not totally focused on pest prevention. The majority of retailers in today’s markets require certain standards that ensure safe and sustainable agriculture for demonstrating on-farm food safety and sustainability.

In a true IPM strong focus is on pest prevention by applying good agronomic practices and using resistant varieties, pest identification and monitoring and biological pest control. As soon as the economic threshold is achieved – the point at which the cost of pesticide use pays off (cost of expected loss in harvest exceeds the cost of treatment) – chemical pest control becomes profitable. The last step includes learning and adapting from IPM for the next crop season.

5. Agroecology

Agroecology is a discipline that defines, classifies and studies agricultural systems from an ecological and socio-economic perspective, and applies ecological concepts and principles to the design and management of sustainable agroecosystems. It is an integrative way of farming that focuses on working with and understanding the interactions between plants, animals, humans and the environment. In Agroecology pest control seeks to reinforce interactions of pests and natural enemies with the aim to maintain a natural balance in the ecosystem. While there is no consent on what techniques and inputs are compatible with agroecology the common denominator is to make use of biodiversity-based ecological processes to optimize agricultural production systems.

6. Organic Agriculture

Organic agriculture is a production system that sustains the health of soils, ecosystems and people. It relies on ecological processes, biodiversity and cycles adapted to local conditions, rather than the use of inputs with adverse effects. Organic standards strictly prohibit any use of synthetic pesticides. Crop protection in organic agriculture builds on good agronomic practices such as crop rotation and intercropping, the use of organic manures, resistant varieties and bio-control to prevent that pest, diseases and weeds cause significant damage.

Organic farming makes use of techniques similar to Integrated Pest Management and agroecology, with the only difference that synthetic chemicals cannot be used as a last resort.

Instead, organic farmers can use specific natural substances permitted by organic standards to control pests and diseases if preventive methods are not sufficient. Some of them, however, also have unwanted side effects on non-target organisms. Particularly the use of copper to control fungal diseases is problematic due to its accumulation in soils.

7. Use of less hazardous pesticides

There are various systems to classify pesticides as per their toxicity for humans and the environment. Phasing out the use of highly hazardous pesticides and replacing them with less hazardous ones is therefore the most obvious way to reduce the negative side-effects of pesticides.

This approach needs to be combined with safe handling of pesticides so that their impact on people and the environment is minimized. The use of protective gear and the observation of waiting periods before harvest are the most important measures in this regard.

However, in many countries the lack of information, unavailability of protective equipment and its impracticality in hot and humid climates result in low adoption rates.

Source: Frank Eyhorn, Tina Roner, Heiko Specking September 2015

How to support the Quality System with the Game Theory

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T he picture  is showing the Prisoner’s dilemma in a Matrix. This is used to understand clearly the possible choices when a company has to make an important decision: a strategic decision.

Imagine two prisoners held in separate cells, interrogated simultaneously, and offered deals (lighter jail sentences) for betraying their fellow criminal. They can “cooperate” (with the other prisoner) by not snitching, or “defect” by betraying the other. However, there is a catch; if both players defect, then they both serve a longer sentence than if neither said anything. Lower jail sentences are interpreted as higher payoffs (shown in the table).

The prisoner’s dilemma has a similar matrix as depicted for the coordination game, but the maximum reward for each player (in this case, 3) is obtained only when the players’ decisions are different. Each player improves their own situation by switching from “cooperating” to “defecting”, given knowledge that the other player’s best decision is to “defect”. The prisoner’s dilemma thus has a single Nash equilibrium: both players choosing to defect.

What has long made this an interesting case to study is the fact that this scenario is globally inferior to “both cooperating”. That is, both players would be better off if they both chose to “cooperate” instead of both choosing to defect. However, each player could improve their own situation by breaking the mutual cooperation, no matter how the other player possibly (or certainly) changes their decision.

Nash equilibrium has been demonstrated by J. Nash in a real situation.

In game theory, the Nash equilibrium is a solution concept of a non-cooperative game involving two or more players in which each player is assumed to know the equilibrium strategies of the other players, and no player has anything to gain by changing only his own strategy.

In Europe I do not know anybody else, except Casaqa, who is trying to integrate quality management and business management systems. I’ve formed a very definite opinion about this and why the quality management system is believed to be so distance to the business management. I would like to share it.

1) The food company are particularly narrow-minded about the different processes, and  I think we’ll just have not to compartmentalize everything.

2) The people don’t know the applications of the Game Theory.

3) They also think that management systems must necessarily derive from an external scheme, often imposed by supermarkets, and that nothing can be proposed from within the same companies as in the automotive business happens.

Game theory is a major method used in mathematical economics and business for modeling competing behaviors of interacting agents. Applications include a wide array of economic phenomena and approaches, such as auctions, bargaining, mergers & acquisitions pricing,fair division, duopolies, oligopolies, social network formation, agent-based computational economics, general equilibrium, mechanism design, and voting systems; and across such broad areas as experimental economics, behavioral economics, information economics, industrial organization, and political economy.

I believe that game theory should be use in the Quality Management System too.

Business is a high-stakes game.The way we approach this game is reflected in the language we use to describe it. Business language is full of expressions borrowed from the military and fro sports. Some of them are dangerously misleading. Unlike war and sports, business is not about winning and losing. Nor is it about how well you play the game. Companies can succeed spectacularly without requiring others to fail. And they can fail miserably no matter how well they play if they make the mistake of playing the wrong game.

The essence of business success lies in making sure you’re playing the right game. How do you know if it is the right game? What can you do about it is the wrong game?

In order to help managers answer those questions, I am using a framework (developed by Adam Brandeburg, Barry J. Nalebuff, but updated through Alexander Ostoerwalder) that draws on the insights of the game theory. Basically game theory is about to change the game of business, updating your model business. The point is to use this method into your quality system. The decision taking process is a process like the “maintenance” or the “production”.

The game of business is all about value: creating it and capturing it. Who are the participants in the enterprise? To describe them some Author introduce the Value Net – a schematic map designed to represent all the players in the game and the interdependencies among them.

The Value Net reveals two fundamental symmetries in the game of the business:

a) the first between customers and suppliers

b) the second between substituotors and complementors.

Managers understand intuitively the along the vertical dimension of the Value Net, there is a mixture of cooperation and competition.

This method is very interesting to manage the “process decision ” and to give a tool to analyze the reality as a game. This means to help the managers and to give a contribution to achieve a Quality Management System that can include the ” business model management” .

This is how the growers should ensure the irrigation water quality.

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This is how the growers should ensure the irrigation water quality, especially in leafy vegetables production

There are a lot of problems in the leafy vegetables production associated with irrigation water, including microbial risk and difficulties in water monitoring, compliance with evolving regulations and quality standards.

The fact is that the transmission of Escherichia coli O157:H7 to salad plants through spray and surface irrigation was demonstrated. [ETHAN B. SOLOMON, CATHERINE J. POTENSKI, and KARL R. MATTHEWS – Department of Food Science, Cook College, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, 65 Dudley Road, New Brunswick, New Jersey 08901-8520, USA]

More generally, there is increasing evidence of the contribution of irrigation water in the contamination of produce leading to subsequent outbreaks of food borne illness. The risk is higher for leafy vegetables that will be eaten raw without cooking.

Supermarkets and Food Companies are targeting zero-risk production systems and the associated requirements for irrigation water quality have become more stringent in regulations and quality assurance schemes (QAS) followed by growers. For example, the scheme Field to Fork by Marks&Spencer, the McDonalds Standard and others, they pay a lot of attention about the acceptable limit of E.coli, requiring a monthly testing.

Usually the food safety standards require a safe water source and a sampling protocol to make sure the consistency of the E.coli results.

Why we test E.coli ?

In the baby leaf production, growers should identify water sources that are contaminated with potential pathogens through a monitoring regime and only use water free of pathogens, but the low prevalence of pathogens makes the use of faecal indicators, particularly E. coli, a more practical approach. Initially E.coli was just an indicator of Salmonella ssp.

The irrigation method could be crucial for the leafy vegetables food safety

Where growers have to use water sources of moderate quality, they can reduce the risk of contamination of the edible portion of the crop (i.e., the leaves) by treating irrigation water before use through physical or chemical disinfection systems, or avoid contact between the leaves and irrigation water through the use of drip or furrow irrigation, or the use of hydroponic growing systems.

The current alternatives available for growers to reduce microbial risks is certainly not to continue in the same way. Agronomic techniques can help the growers to eliminate the microbial risk of pathogens.

Anyway the growers use a variety of water sources for field operations and irrigation and much knowledge is needed to relate risk factors associated with the transfer coefficients for pathogens by source, concentration and use.

Probably the combination of these different factors: Agronomic techniques and Quantitative water risk assessment, can increase a lot the food safety of baby leaf production.

R ick Twice is the photographer behind many CASAQA’s photos.

A Special thanks to the photographer for making photos like these.

Words are powerless to express my gratitude!

Rick Twice

7 consigli per chi vuole esportare

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S ono sette i consigli che volevo dare alle imprese agroalimentari (e non) che vogliono iniziare ad esportare all’estero, e che, in base alla mia esperienza nel settore alimentare nell’ambito della commercializzazione globale, potrebbero trarre vantaggio nel conoscere queste buone pratiche, generalmente ritenute valide. Ecco i 7 aspetti che non devono essere tralasciati e cosa occorre fare.

  1. Valutazione preliminare dell’azienda nella sua globalità, intenso in senso strategico. Ovvero, riflettete bene sul fatto se conviene o meno esportare all’estero, perché non sempre è una buona scelta e neanche è obbligatorio farlo solo perché si sente dire che sia remunerativo. Chiedetevi: “il mercato a cui voglio vendere il mio prodotto, è interessante nell’ottica del medio e lungo periodo?” Questo occorre valutarlo anche a fronte degli investimenti che probabilmente dovrò fare per adeguare l’organizzazione aziendale e la sua infrastruttura al nuovo mercato.
  2. Valutazione del prodotto in sé. Questo aspetto deve essere considerato in relazione al falso mito del Made in Italy. Mi riferisco alla credenza che, siccome il nostro prodotto è Made in Italy, allora si vende da solo. Questo non è assolutamente vero.Non c’è questa correlazione diretta. Anche in questo caso, occorre affrontare con impegno e pianificazione il nuovo mercato. Spesso va ripensato il packaging o il modo di presentare il prodotto per adeguarlo ai nuovi clienti.
  3. Valutazione del ritorno degli investimenti in termini di tempo. Occorre considerare che gli investimenti fatti per l’acquisizione di un nuovo mercato, come quello estero, necessitano di un determinato lasso di tempo per poterne apprezzare i risultati. Per questa ragione consiglio di tener bene in mente il fattore tempo in ottica di fluidità di cassa, aspettative e pianificazione.
  4. Organizzazione delle risorse aziendale e umane. Un altro aspetto importante, specie perché viene spesso sottovalutato, è la valutazione attenta in merito all’eventuale e probabile adeguamento delle risorse aziendali, intese sia come infrastruttura che come risorse umane. Su quest’ultimo aspetto voglio sottolineare che non è sufficiente avere qualcuno in azienda che conosca semplicemente la lingua straniera utile ai fini dell’esportazione, ma occorrono risorse qualificate per poter dialogare con il mercato di riferimento. Troppo spesso si fa l’errore di “prendere lo stagista” con l’inglese e pensare di aver risolto tutto. Non è così! La figura del commerciale estero, deve essere una figura qualificata.
  5. Valutazione degli investimenti in Marketing e Promozione. In genere, la voce di spesa più alta in termini di investimento è rappresentata (o dovrebbe esserlo) dagli investimenti in promozione e marketing, inteso come l’insieme di attività per farsi conoscere all’estero e per crearsi il nuovo mercato.
  6. Logistica. Un altro aspetto determinante nella conquista di un mercato estero è l’organizzazione della Logistica. Non bisogna pensare che una volta che si hanno “le commesse” e gli ordini di vendita, il lavoro sia finito qui. Occorre pensare bene ad un servizio di logistica che ci metta in collegamento con il nostro cliente che potrebbe distare da noi diverse migliaia di chilometri. Pertanto è necessario adeguare il nostro servizio di Logistica, organizzarsi in torno ad esso e essere pronti a supportarne le spese.
  7. Forme di pagamento a tutela della vendita.  Un altra buona pratica da adottare quando si esportano beni all’estero, specie fuori dal mercato comune europeo, è quello di tutelare la vendita con adeguate forme di pagamento. Vendere dentro l’Unione Europea tecnicamente non è esportazione ed in questo ambito si è meglio tutelati. Questo suggerimento diventa molto più importante nelle esportazione extra-UE.

Spero che questi 7 consigli siano stati utili, al netto della loro genericità.

The Secret of the question. Behind a risk analysis.

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El secreto para la creación de un buen sistema calidad o de seguridad alimentaria es sencillamente ponerse buenas preguntas y proceder con este método de “hacerse buenas preguntas” a lo largo de su implementación.


Según el libro de Escritor Italiano –  Umberto Galimberti  – en el libro : “El secreto de las preguntas”:

Preguntas mal formuladas determinan  una visión equivocada de la realidad, una visión del mundo que no está adecuada para analizar y entender la realidad, y las empresas están en la realidad, no están fuera de la realidad.

¿Por qué es importante la capacidad de hacer preguntas correctas en el contexto de los sistemas de gestión?

En la aplicación de normas de calidad, sobre todo en la nueva norma ISO 9001: 2015 pero también otras normas, debemos analizar críticamente fases y procesos. Al fin y al cabo, tenemos que hacernos preguntas y contestarlas correctamente. En el caso de la aplicación de normas voluntarias, los requisitos nos vienen de las mismas normas. Y los estándares, normalmente, nos ponen buenas preguntas.

Esto nos pasa cuando hacemos un análisis de la Cadena de Valor de Porter , cuando hacemos un análisis de riesgo con el método APPCC o cuando preparamos un análisis DAFO.

Pero tanto más bajamos a nivel concreto, a nuestro especifico contexto, cuanto más necesitamos ponernos buenas preguntas, porque todos los métodos de análisis están dibujados a un nivel general y tanto el Responsable de Calidad como el Consultor, tienen que abordar los sistemas de gestión a un nivel de análisis peculiar, típico de la empresa objeto de razonamiento.

Creo que los consultores tienen esta tarea. No debemos simplemente cumplir con las normas escribiendo procedimientos, manuales, (que está bien,) sobre todos hay que responder a las preguntas y a las exigencias de nuestro cliente.  El objeto de un sistema de gestión es lograr la conformidad y la satisfacción del cliente.

Entonces la respuesta a estas exigencias debe ser en primer lugar una correcta formulación de la pregunta, para construir unos cimientos sólidos de conocimientos propios.

Una buena pregunta tiene que cumplir 3 condiciones indispensables:

  • Concisa: lenguaje sencillo y claro. Cualquier persona, incluso sin formación en nuestro campo debe entender la pregunta. Frases cortas y directas, nada de lenguaje pomposo y pretencioso. Eliminar los adjetivos.
  • Alcanzable: la pregunta debe tener respuesta posible y la recogida de datos para responderla debe ser viable,
  • Relevante: se debe responder a dicha pregunta argumentando los beneficios e impactos que produciría responderla: a nivel teórico, empírico y económico.

Por ejemplo, ¿como se aborda una pregunta en el contexto de un análisis de riesgo?

Un análisis de riesgo consta de 4 pasos.

  • Identificación del problema. ¿Cuál es el problema? ¿Que sustancia genera el riesgo, la intoxicación? ¿Como puedo medirla?  – por ejemplo Salmonela spp ..ausencia en 25 gramos.
  • Evaluación de la exposición – que es estimar la frecuencia o la cantidad de la sustancia a la que un determinado proceso está expuesto. O evaluar cuál es la frecuencia con la cual se manifiesta ese problema. ¿Cuantos casos de Salmonella por año o toneladas?
  • Evaluación del daño o de la toxicidad– Estimar la cantidad de la sustancia que genera daños o defectos y que tipo de daño o defecto. La simple presencia de Salmonela es inaceptable.
  • Caracterización del Riesgo. ¿Cuál es el riesgo que se puede presentar en el uso previsto? – En el ejemplo Riesgo de muerte o de grave daño para el consumidor.

Entonces la correcta pregunta es ¿como puedo eliminar el riesgo de salmonela identificado en producto de cuarta gama?

La pregunta no puede ser, como puedo reducir a un nivel aceptable el riesgo de salmonela. No existe un nivel aceptable, hemos dicho.

Bueno, esto es un ejemplo de cómo una buena pregunta puede influir en nuestra manera de lleva a cabo un análisis de riesgos. Un pequeño detalle que puede ser fundamental para la seguridad alimentaria.

The Secret of Quality. Something to learn from a small company.

By | Agrofood | No Comments

D a ragazzo ho lavorato in campagna con mio fratello e mio padre. Conosco quindi la fatica di chi lavora in piccole realtà dell’agroalimentare, ma ne conosco anche i piccoli piaceri. Uno di questi è sempre stato fare una chiacchierata con Daniele Carbini. Spesso con argomenti impegnativi. Lui, dopo una decina d’anni di brillante lavoro nel settore dell’informativa, laureato in filosofia, è tornato a casa, a Tempio Pausania (Sardegna) per impegnarsi nelle attività del Molino di famiglia.Ci univa la passione per il filosofo Nietzsche e tanti sacchi di crusca e farinetta da caricare.

Purtroppo, a causa del mio lavoro, non passo molto tempo in Sardegna, ma ho avuto l’occasione di osservare il contributo organizzativo e strutturale (non l’unico) dato da Daniele al Molino dove lavora.

Lo porto ad esempio, e condivido con il lettore questo ragionamento, perché penso che qualsiasi Manager, Imprenditore o chi ha a che fare con l’agroalimentare, può trarne vantaggio.

Il Molino Carbini non è certificato: non aderisce a nessun standard in particolare. Il suo Mercato non glielo richiede. Tuttavia ha creato un proprio sistema qualità, non partendo dall’adesione ad una serie di requisiti e richieste, ma dalla vera base fondamentale di un sistema qualità moderno ed efficiente: il modello di business e la proposta di valore.

In questo modo il Molino Carbini, non solo propone qualcosa di nuovo e ben definito: semolati di grano duro provenienti solo ed esclusivamente da frumento sardo; ma vista la natura “di alta qualità”, sta trainando il comparto verso nuovi livelli di efficenza e qualità. Quella vera. Ripudiando l’assurdo concetto che prodotto tradizionale equivalga a prodotto di Qualità, si impegna, in relazione alla relativa forza economica, a fare innovazione, ricerca, irrobustire la filiera e creare delle ottime farine che rendano degli ottimi prodotti da forno. Ma non tanto per dire o per fare quello che maldestramente viene definito “marketing”. Si impegna a creare un mercato per sé, per i propri clienti e fornitori. Fare Marketing con la Qualità e di qualità, nella sua accezione genuina ed originale, significa creare Mercato: per il tuo cliente, per il tuo fornitore e di conseguenza per te.

Il Sistema di Qualità del Molino Carbini ci insegna che il fine di un SQ non è la Check-List della norma a cui aderire. Ci dimostra che il faro guida deve essere il tuo Modello di Business e ciò che vuoi proporre al tuo Mercato. Ci insegna che tenendo sotto controllo i corretti parametri, misurati oggettivamente, la crescita della Qualità del processo e prodotto è garantita.

Il Modello di Business di tipo B2B e B2C del Molino Carbini ci insegna che se non cerchi di rafforzare la tua filiera, di creare mercato anche per il tuo cliente e per il tuo fornitore, prima o poi corroderai la ricchezza di quel mercato. Se crei ricchezza per il tuo cliente, lui non ti abbandonerà mai.

La Proposta di Valore del Molino Carbini (solo prodotto sardo..di eccellenza) ci insegna che diversificare e distinguersi è il primo passo e che fare della comunicazione ingannevole non paga nel lungo periodo e che dietro alla comunicazione deve esserci serietà, innovazione e cultura. Promettere ciò che puoi mantenere vale soprattutto nel mondo degli affari.

Come hanno fatto tutto questo? Nell’intervista ce lo spiega proprio Daniele Carbini: il “Filosofo Mugnaio”, come è stato definito dallo scrittore Francesco Abate. Io la chiamo Qualità Strategica

What is the resilience in the agri-food sector?

By | Food Safety | One Comment
What is the resilience in the agri-food sector?

his article is about the Resilience concept and the fresh vegetable business.

Resilience is in vogue at the moment as a conceptual frame for the development community. There are lots of new initiatives and new projects designed to improve resilience—mostly in the context of the recent and ongoing food crises in the Horn of Africa and the Sahelian region.

Resilience has many sense:

“the power or ability of a System to return to the original form, position, etc., after being bent, compressed, or stretched”; this is a generic definition.

What this the relation between the Resilience and the Food Safety System in the fresh food business?

Industrialized agriculture increasingly emulates the production, processing, and distribution characteristics of large-scale manufacturing. Agriculture has become more uniform and mechanized, while post-harvest processing offers more ‘‘value added’’ and packaged goods. We are packing everything: Lettuce, cucumbers, zucchini, etc.

In this way the Food Industry wants to increase the illusion of control over the agrifood system propagandizing their”we have everything under control”. Food companies need consumers to believe that their products are safe. When outbreaks occur, the companies often deny responsibility place blame on others, and resist changes in their production or processing procedures. This seems to be the agrifood resilience: do not understand the need to change to avoid the same problem.

Outbreaks of food-borne illness from fresh produce are significantly more prevalent in recent decades. This could be related to four factors, as reported by University of Arizona

  • 1) changes in farming or processing practices
  • 2) the overall increase in consumption of raw fruits and vegetables or minimally processed
  • 3) the increase in trade and international distribution
  • 4) the increase in immunosuppressed consumers.

In addition, the general lack of efficacy of disinfectants in the elimination of pathogens in raw fruits and vegetables has been attributed, in part, to their difficulty in penetrating the leaf surface and the foliar tissue that may harbour pathogens.

When firms are found at fault, in the Food Safety System, or in the disinfectant inefficiency as well they often advertise new technological fixes, increasing the complexity of the production system as well as its reliance on synthetic substances and controversial measures (e.g. irradiation).

It is unclear if those technologies increase actually the food safety but industry may succeed in temporarily perpetuating the image that food is now safer.

A clear example of resilience has been the outbreak of E. coli O157: H7 from raw ‘ready to eat’ bagged spinach during autumn 2006.

This incident resulted in over 200 illnesses and at least three deaths in 26 US states and Canada.

In this case, the leafy greens industry was unable to control a strain of bacteria that spread though the pre-packaged salad production system

In an attempt to regain control, or the appearance of control the industry is actively fighting back against nature in an attempt to sterilize production sites, segregating the open field with net and fencing, controlling the wildlife activity exploring possible vaccines for humans and for cattle to treat E. coli O157:H7. Many of these control- measures do not seem to make sense.

One day I will make a video on this topic:”The craziest control measures” (as title).

Well, what have been the results of these measures?

In the 2011 a food borne infection of E. coli caused about 50 deaths in Germany and France, 3000 infected people and millionaire losses in the agricultural sector.

And without having a clear explanation of the cause.

First were the Spanish cucumbers, then the German soya, then the Egyptian seeds. In 2016, last year, the same toxiinfection caused 2 deaths and 151 people in UK affected by E. coli. Resilience? Yep! I return to the definition..

The power or ability of a System to return to the original form, position, after being bent, compressed, or stretched.

Dictionary by Googling