A new study illustrates the real potential for contamination
of globally sourced foods and proposes a conceptual framework
of supply chain quality management.
Led by Aleda V. Roth of Clemson University with co-authors
Andy Tsay of Santa Clara University, Madeleine Pullman
of Portland State University, and John Gray of Ohio State
University, the study utilized information from trends
of U.S. food imports from China, subsequent recall events,
and U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) data to highlight
the inherent difficulties and risks posed by global food
Various quality problems have been associated with foods
and ingredients imported from China. There exists limited
capacity of current regulatory bodies to police product
flows, including lack of enforcement by the FDA. Problems
often arise when pursuit of profit is not held in check
by regulatory forces, resulting in noncompliance with
laws and standards, and even corruption. These problems
have led to a contamination of Chinese-made products.
How should these challenges be handled? Roth says that
“adding on inspections and stricter regulations
alone may be neither sustainable nor effective in the
long run.” US regulations requiring tracing of ingredients
one step forward and one step backward in the supply chain
is inadequate in 12,000 mile, complex supply chains. In
China, for example, inputs to food ingredients are combined
from millions of small farms. And there are often many
intermediaries involved in the various stages of getting
food from the farm to table. Moreover, longer distances
affect food freshness and quality and often necessitate
the addition chemical preservatives and dyes.
The authors have posed a different path—one that
offers a deeper understanding of the root causes and robust
solutions. Their path follows from a conceptual framework
called the “6Ts” of supply chain quality management.
Each of the “6Ts”--traceability, transparency,
testability, time, trust, and training--are critical to
the preservation of the public welfare through a safe
food supply. The “6Ts” represent the key necessary
inputs and outputs to ensure that high-quality food is
delivered to consumers.
“A major contribution of this paper is to bring
to the forefront the critical challenges posed by the
global sourcing of food and to provide an agenda for further
discussion and research regarding global food supply chains,”
the authors conclude.
Journal reference: Aleda V. Roth, Andy A. Tsay, Madeleine
E. Pullman, John V. Gray (2008) Unraveling The Food Supply
Chain: Strategic Insights From China And The 2007 Recalls.
The Journal of Supply Chain Management 44 (1) , 22–39