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Ensuring food safety and quality through Covid-19 supply chain changes

Covid-19 has brought unprecedented supply-chain challenges.

The supply chain is a complex web of interactions involving farmers, agricultural inputs, processing plants, shipping, retailers and more. 

At the best of times it is a moving beast to manage, with just one impacted section causing a ripple effect through the whole chain.  Australian industry deals with this often in times of bushfires, droughts and other natural and manmade disasters, but rarely if ever before has the whole global chain been rattled at the same time and for the same reason, like it has this year due to the coronavirus. 

According to a new survey released by the Institute for Supply Management (ISM), 75 per cent of companies worldwide have reported supply chain disruptions as a result of Covid-19, and this number is growing.

Building supply-chain resilience has become a strategic imperative for organisations of all sizes and across all industries in today’s disruptive business world.

As companies bend and pivot to adapt to the roadblocks and keep continuity of output, serious risks to food safety arise.    

Changes such as finding new raw material suppliers create risk around an altered allergen status of products, and even changes to Country of Origin claims. 

Changes such as delays in logistics create risks around spoilage and pathogen management. 

Even supply chain disruptions such as sudden oversupply of goods, changes in purchasing behaviour, and barriers to normal auditing programs creates the unfortunate opportunity for food fraud events.  Globally, in the first six months of 2020, food fraud events have increased by 61 per cent compared to the second half of last year*.

So what do you need to be mindful of as this already fast-paced industry steps on the pedal to keep afloat?  

Carry out due diligence on your supply chain.  Transparency and traceability are key.  Map your supply chain and identify any weak spots in systems or processes which could occur due to increased pressure or reduced resources.

Increased use of technology such as blockchain and authenticity testing is being used more often as companies appreciate the transparency that blockchain intelligence provides from farm to fork.  Mérieux NutriSciences offers blockchain capabilities as well as authenticity-testing services.

Pathogen testing is imperative to proactively mitigating the risk of spoiled product going out to consumers. According to FSANZ, Microbial Contamination is the second highest cause for recalls in Australia, and rising.  Mérieux NutriSciences’ full range of microbiological tests enables you to guarantee the quality of your food products by ensuring they are free of spoilage organisms or pathogens.  The company also offers services such as shelf-life and microbial challenge studies.

Any changes to raw-material suppliers, contract manufacturing sites, manufacturing process or product formulation will most likely impact the allergen status of your product.  It is the responsibility of the product owner to ensure on-pack information is a true representation of the product inside.  Mérieux NutriSciences offers a NATA-accredited allergen testing service, as well as a label-compliance consultancy service to ensure accurate allergen labelling declarations.

Its label compliance team can also assist in any changes made to your supply chain which will in turn change the Country of Origin labelling requirement of your product.  Whilst some leniency has been granted during this volatile time, any more permanent raw material or processing country changes will require a review of your Country of Origin claim on pack.

Digital solutions to prevent any of the above issues are the most responsive and efficient ways to identify issues before they leave the factory floor.  Mérieux NutriSciences EnviroMap® platform is a secure cloud-based system automating your environmental monitoring program and assisting with the entire sampling life cycle.

The food industry globally has been applauded for largely maintaining continuity to ensure minimal food shortages to our population during this pandemic period.  To continue this way, it is imperative to keep abreast of the changes your company is making, and understand the impact these changes have on the safety of your product for consumers.  

Contact the team at Mérieux NutriSciences for all your food safety and quality needs!  For more information visit or contact us via

Our offices and laboratories are conveniently located in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Perth. 

*Safety HUD, Mérieux NutriSciences 2020