Reminders for Emergency Approval of Food/Ingredient Suppliers

With higher demand for certain products and potential supply chain disruptions, many retailers and manufacturers are turning to alternative/emergency suppliers. A few thoughts to remember when doing so:

1. Before introducing the product, complete a verification that it was produced using food safety practices and is from a reputable supplier. We recommend as minimum you collect and assess:

  • Product specification
  • Certificate of analysis
  • Product sample for evaluations

For sites certified to GFSI standards, remember to check the guidance regarding the use of suppliers in emergency situations.

2. It is also critical right now to assess potential suppliers on their COVID-19 mitigation controls. Merely asking them if they’ve implemented controls is NOT enough. It’s important to ask pointed questions about physical distancing and personnel-related controls. This will help reduce the risk of further disruption due to closures or slowdowns.

3. After you’ve deemed the product suitable and introduced it into your supply chain, complete your full supplier verification activities including:

  • Assessment of food safety controls at the supplier (by desk review or remote assessment for now*)
  • Review of food safety audits from the past 12 months
  • Completion of supplier questionnaires
  • Risk rating of the supplier
  • Increased frequency of material evaluation

*In a statement on March 17, the FDA announced it would not enforce on-site audit requirements if other appropriate verification activities are used instead… “Other supplier verification methods, such as sampling and testing or a review of food safety records, would be designed to provide sufficient assurance that hazards have been significantly minimized or prevented during the period of on-site audit delay.”

Author:Scott Arnald works as a supervisor on the consulting team at NSF providing services that help companies manage the food safety and quality of their supply chain. You can reach him at

This post is one in a series on managing the quality and food safety of a supply chain as a manufacturer, restaurant brand or foodservice company.

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