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Food Supply Chain Stakeholders’ Perspectives on Sharing Information to Detect and Prevent Food Integrity Issues

Minnens, Fien, Lucas Luijckx, Niels, Verbeke, Wim
Foods 2019 v.8 no.6
attitudes and opinions, business enterprises, food industry, food safety, food supply chain, information exchange, risk perception, stakeholders, standard deviation, surveys
One of the biggest challenges facing the food industry is assuring food integrity. Dealing with complex food integrity issues requires a multi-dimensional approach. Preventive actions and early reactive responses are key for the food supply chain. Information sharing could facilitate the detection and prevention of food integrity issues. This study investigates attitudes towards a food integrity information sharing system (FI-ISS) among stakeholders in the European food supply chain. Insights into stakeholders’ interest in participating and their conditions for joining an FI-ISS are assessed. The stakeholder consultation consisted of three rounds. During the first round, a total of 143 food industry stakeholders—covering all major food sectors susceptible to food integrity issues—participated in an online quantitative survey between November 2017 and February 2018. The second round, an online qualitative feedback survey in which the findings were presented, received feedback from 61 stakeholders from the food industry, food safety authorities and the science community. Finally, 37 stakeholders discussed the results in further detail during an interactive workshop in May 2018. Three distinct groups of industry stakeholders were identified based on reported frequency of occurrence and likelihood of detecting food integrity issues. Food industry stakeholders strongly support the concept of an FI-ISS, with an attitude score of 4.49 (standard deviation (S.D.) = 0.57) on a 5-point scale, and their willingness to participate is accordingly high (81%). Consensus exists regarding the advantages an FI-ISS can yield towards detection and prevention. A stakeholder’s perception of the advantages was identified as a predictor of their intention to join an FI-ISS, while their perception of the disadvantages and the perceived risk of food integrity issues were not. Medium-sized companies perceive the current detection of food integrity issues as less likely compared to smaller and large companies. Interestingly, medium-sized companies also have lower intentions to join an FI-ISS. Four key success factors for an FI-ISS are defined, more specifically with regards to (1) the actors to be involved in a system, (2) the information to be shared, (3) the third party to manage the FI-ISS and (4) the role of food safety authorities. Reactions diverged concerning the required level of transparency, the type of data that stakeholders might be willing to share in an FI-ISS and the role authorities can have within an FI-ISS.