| FOOD CHAIN No. 14 - March 1995 |
APPROPRIATE QUALITY ASSURANCE OF FOODS
The qualify of much processed food in many developing countries is lower than is desirable due in part to a lack of knowledge by producers Consumer pressure, however, is increasing for high quality, affordable foods. Evidence from many developing countries indicates that consumers are willing to pay for good quality foods. In addition, they are likely to remain loyal to enterprises that consistently maintain high quality in their products.
Food manufacturers who avoid adulteration and improve quality control of their processing will increase sales, provide safer and more attractive products for consumers, reduce food wastage and increase their profitability. This in turn will help secure employment and incomes for staff employed in the businesses.
Many of the technical enquiries received at ITDG from small-scale food processors and other agencies focus on the need for improved quality control, demonstrating that manufacturers are often willing to improve the quality of their products but lack the knowledge and skills to achieve this.
In the future it is likely that all countries will adopt more stringent legislation in an attempt to improve food quality, but also to erect barriers to trade, protecting local manufacturing. This will restrict opportunities for small- and medium-scale producers to export their products to neighbouring countries, unless they can demonstrate that adequate quality control procedures are being routinely followed.
In Western countries quality control procedures are increasingly automated to reduce the number and cost of operators This usually means the use of complex, expensive equipment and procedures that require trained and experienced staff to operate them - both of which are not affordable by most small- and medium-scale producers in developing countries.
It is not necessary to adopt sophisticated procedures in order to adequately control food quality By modifying and redesigning procedures it is possible to develop appropriate quality assurance (AQA) measures that will meet legislative requirements using available skills at a cost that is affordable by small- and medium-scale businesses.
Articles in future issues of Food Chain will describe practical steps that food producers can take to improve the quality of their products and the profitability of their enterprises.
Each article will focus on a quality assurance technique or procedures for control of a specific product that have a low capital investment and require skills that are within the capabilities of small-scale entrepreneurs. It is likely that some initial investment will be required and further training will almost always be needed and we will indicate, where possible, what these will involve and how they can be achieved. As in other aspects of Food Chain, we will try to give information that is as practical as we can make it, given the varying circumstances of our readership around the world. If you, our readers, have any quality assurance methods that you have found work well, we would be happy to hear from you so that the information can be shared with others.