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Product safety and quality

As a food and feed producer, product quality and safety is essential to our business. The legal requirement for sugar is a purity of 99.7 per cent. Sugar itself is an inherently safe product as microorganisms will not survive in sugar, so the only risk is that foreign bodies or chemical residues contaminate the product during processing. We take rigorous steps to detect any issues and prevent all contamination.

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Assessing risks

Our entire production process has been assessed for potential product safety risks using a method called Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP). This is a method for detecting all microbiological, physical, chemical and allergenic risks. The assessment is regularly updated, especially when any changes occur in the factories.

Minimising risks

We have implemented a series of measures to eliminate or minimise all detected risks. The process of sugar production takes place with high temperatures and high pH values, which eliminates microorganisms that may have entered the process via the sugar beets. Subsequent microbial infection is minimised by our strict corporate hygiene rules. All employees who work directly with our products receive hygiene training at least once a year.

In order to prevent foreign bodies contaminating our products, sieves, magnets and/or metal detectors are installed in all our food and feed lines.

Approval before use

All Nordzucker ingredients and processing aids must be internally approved before use. This includes a requirement that, in general, substances are free of allergens, not genetically modified, kosher and halal. Our Quality and Procurement departments work closely together to ensure that our suppliers meet our demands.

Monitoring food and animal feed 

A decade ago, we set up a programme to monitor all of our food and animal feed annually for any health risks. Since then, parameters such as heavy metals, pesticides and pathogenic microorganisms have been analysed by external accredited laboratories.

Ensuring traceability

According to EU regulations 178/2002 and 1935/2004 respectively, all food and feed products and all direct packaging material must be traceable. This means that the immediate supplier of a food product and the immediate subsequent recipient must both be identifiable. This is commonly known as the one step up/one step down system. We make sure that all of our products are traceable, and test traceability at least once a year.

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Audit programme

To support our commitment to delivering high quality and safe products, we perform internal audits at least once a year in each of our sites. These audits are also used to share knowledge and promote common learning across our 17 sites.

We also audit suppliers of materials that could affect our products, such as seed materials, raw cane sugar for our refineries, ingredients, food contact materials, external storages and transport companies.

Impact

 

Our programme for monitoring food and animal feed shows that all analysed parameters are within legal limits and that our processes are effective. This gives our customers the assurance that Nordzucker products are of consistently high quality.

As a result of our one step up/one step down traceability system, Nordzucker is able to trace all beet supplies to farmers and all other material back to commercial suppliers. All deliveries of products, including their direct packaging material, are traceable to our customers. We do have some limitations in our internal traceability due to continuous production processes and storage in large silos. However, products can be traced back to the farmers and from the silos.

In 2014/15 we carried out 40 internal audits, most of which took place in our factories. All findings are used for our continuous improvement process. The results are evaluated and shared with factory management in order to bring about further improvements.

We performed 26 supplier audits in 2014/15. Depending on the results, suppliers will be re-audited.