Building consumer trust as a food manufacturer is no easy feat. It comes from an ongoing commitment to transparency throughout the production chain. However, this commitment can prove costly, time-consuming and confusing. In order to boost transparency across the industry, the European Food Safety Authority of Ireland has compiled the universal secrets to creating trust-worthy relationships between manufacturers and consumers.
First and foremost, the FSAI notes that manufacturers need to have a thorough understanding of their own products. Consumers are more savvy than ever thanks to popular cooking shows which have given them a curiosity around the exact origins of their meals. They often want to know exactly where and how their food was processed - so manufacturers need to be able to quickly relay his information. The FSAI guidelines thus call on food manufacturers to educate themselves and have a clear and easy-to-understand record of how they products came to fruition.
More broadly, the FSAI has demanded tighter government legislation to boost transparency and remove distrust in the food industry. It argues that food safety laws - which would increase regulations around ingredients listed on packaging - could transform the industry by improving consumer trust and ensuring transparency throughout.
Moving forward, the FSAI acknowledges its need to improve risk detection across the industry. The agency says it will allocate more resources to identifying patterns and reducing risks in food production. They cite the notorious 2013 horse meat scandal as a momentous learning curve for all food processors and they are adamant nothing so extreme will occur again.
Summarising the findings of his staff, FSAI director Wayne Anderson said: “citizens require this level of transparency as they’re looking to be able to understand and accept, or believe in the trustworthiness of the risk assessments.”
He added that open communication would work to “overcome a certain level of distrust” for food manufacturers.
However, the food fanatic did concede that there were possibly larger problems ahead for the food industry. He said this has prompted an increasing demand for transparency which he believes will ensure for years to come that “people still maintain trust in their food supply.”