Food control will always be a topic
Interview with Mr. Michael Benner
Michael Benner is a veterinarian and was active before his today's activity as a leader of the quality assurance KIN as a university assistant in the student education in the area of food microbiology and food hygiene. For 24 years he is an employee of the KIN in the area of quality assurance with the main focuses microbiology and hygiene, quality management, hygiene management and food right. As by the state admitted food expert and professional auditor for quality management systems he has long experiences in the area of the technical education.
Which tasks does your institute have in the food area?
The food institute KIN checks by order of food producers the whole production chain from raw product up to end product, including packaging. In addition we cover analy-sis in the areas of microbiology, chemistry, sensoric checkups and especially hygiene management and food-juridical consultations.
How does the vertical examination "stable to table" work today?
All partners in the food chain, from the so-called primary production (agriculture, animal husbandry) through processing and distribution up to trade are classified juridically as a "food manufacturer". Therefore they are underlying food security regulations and by that to test obligation and supervision obligation within the scope of self control.
How does the collaboration with industry and authorities function?
The organs of food supervision are organised by federal states in Germany. But an open dialog with the food manufacturers is aimed at in general. The control measures should be carried out risk-oriented, that means concerning products, production amounts, distribution and according to the target group.
Which consequences have national and EU right for the quality assurance?
Since the mid 80s the EU has taken over the supremacy in food legislation. Standards are regulated generally since that time and are automatically transformed into laws of the member states. This concerns food safety, hygiene package and labeling.
How do the protection systems function?
The protection systems must correspond to the worldwide standard of Codex Alimen-tarius and the HACCP concept. In addition risk analysis specific for production and product must be carried out. They are aimed at recognition of so-called „critical points in food safety“ in the process and for implementing of suitable control measures and safeguarding measures.
What does risk assessment mean and how are risks managed?
Risk assessment means to check whether single steps of the production causes dan-gers for the health of the consumer and whether this health danger could also come at last to the consumer. The ascertained possible dangers must be avoided by a suitable risk management in the production (e.g. contamination recognition) or by modified procedures in treatment of the products.
"Traffic light labeling": What do you think about it?
Traffic light labeling is no instrument for the assessment of food safety. It informs the consumer roughly about food-physiological qualities of a product. In this simplistic form of categorisation it does not take into account in my opinion the complexity of food and, above all, customs in food consumption.
Which areas will be in your focus in the future?
The subject food safety will remain the continuous subject for the future. The main attention is to be laid on the constant improvement of the hygiene measures, but also the progress in the analysis features and, above all, the time nearness of the result inquiry will play a big role. The developments in production technology (e.g. hygienic design) are to be monitored.
Interview by Ralph Bloemer, InterMeat.de