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Topical issues in the field of food safety and quality management have been in the focus of the Sixth SGS Food Forum “From product safety toward a strong brand” held on 9-10 July 2014 in Moscow. The Forum gathered over 190 professionals representing food business community, governmental authorities, NGOs and financial institutions from Russia, Belarus, Ukraine and Lithuania. The conference was organized by SGS (headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland), the world leader in inspection, verification, testing and certification.

During the first session moderated by Ksenia Ovcharova, Head of Customs Union Relationship Division at Rospotrebnadzor, consequences of the eight Technical Regulations of the Belarus-Kazakhstan-Russia Customs Union coming into force were reviewed. Marina Khmura, Head of Federal State Surveillance Division at Rospotrebnadzor, emphasized the fact that unplanned inspections share has been growing and drew the audience’s attention to the measures to improve effectiveness of surveillance activities. Namely, one of the ideas is to take into account food safety risks when drafting annual inspection plans. Olga Kostyleva, Deputy Head of the Technical Regulation and Standardization Department of Rosstandart, gave clarifications to the requirements of the Technical Regulations and noted that one product category can be covered not by one but by a whole range of Technical Regulations, meaning that the market players need to study the package of food-related Technical Regulations in full. Lyudmila Abramova, Deputy Head of Internal Veterinary Surveillance Department at Rosselkhoznadzor, responded to the delegates’ questions. Tatiana Krikun, Head of Food Committee at the Union of Consumer Market Players, shared the difficulties faced by businesses as a result of the changes occurring in the technical regulation system and summoned the audience to dispute their rights.

The second session of the Forum focused on food quality management. In particular, during the presentation of the new ISO 9001 version expected to be published in 2015 particular attention was paid to the role of top management within a quality management system. Leadership topic was later raised also during the round table discussion when behavioral aspects of implementing food safety standards were argued. Experts from IFC, Kesko Food Rus, ACCOR, SGS and InterConsult reflected on how to convert employees in associates and shared their practical experience in the field of people management and change management.

Presentations focusing on international food safety standards, specifications and schemes attracted high interest of the audience. An overview of GFSI-recognized schemes as well as examples of their implementation in post-Soviet countries were given. Alexey Kovalyonok, Supply Quality Assurance and Sustainability Manager at METRO Cash and Carry, emphasized the fact that METRO Group insists on certification against one of the GFSI-recognized schemes for all Private Label producers regardless of their location. He also noted that FSSC 22000 has been so far the most popular GFSI-recognized scheme in Russia.

Sharing experience has been always the key element of an SGS Food Forum. This year, experts from Nestle Russia, Russkiy Standard Vodka, Coca-Cola HBC Eurasia, KapitalAgro, EGMZ №1, PROGRESS, Tula Dairy Plant and Cherkizovo shared their best practices. A separate session focused on HACCP implementation and risk management as part of supplier management in HoReCa and retail. Active debate of presentations by Belaya Dacha Tradinig, Sodexo and Azbuka Vkusa during this session proved of the high commitment assumed by market players to solve food safety problems.

The panel discussion concluding the Forum raised the issue of how to avoid formality of a food safety management system and to make it bring real business benefit. Specific focus was put on target-setting and KPIs both at a system’s implementation stage and at maintenance and development stage. In today’s stringent competitive conditions only a result-oriented management system can be justified, and strong brands operating in the food market make it evident.

SGS is the world’s leading inspection, verification, testing and certification company. SGS is recognised as the global benchmark for quality and integrity. With more than 80 000 employees, SGS operates a network of over 1 650 offices and laboratories around the world.