Multiple Organics Safety and Testing (MOST™) Overview
With the ever-increasing number of food safety warnings coming from the media, the FDA and the food industry itself, Multiple Organics has developed an aggressive and comprehensive food safety program called "MOST" (Multiple Organics Safety and Testing). Working with globally respected leaders in food safety for over a decade, our multi-tiered MOST program has been designed to teach, monitor and promote food safety worldwide, from the farms where we source our products through to receipt by our valued family of clients.
The MOST Difference:
While many other food suppliers may do the bare minimum to get by, treating food like any other commodity to be traded, Multiple Organics realizes that food is precious and it must be handled with the utmost care. Although the FDA now has the authority to enforce more stringent food safety regulations, it is not solely the responsibility of the FDA, but, instead, the food industry, to do what can be done to raise the food safety bar. We must continue to strive for a best practices approach to food safety, regardless of FDA regulation and other applicable law. To ensure safer organic food through each level of the supply chain, the MOST program involves six key steps including:
- Step 1-Extensive Supplier Pre-Qualification Screenings: performed by individuals trained in food safety, compliance matters, and organic oversight.
- Step 2-Personal Supplier Visits: regular visits to suppliers throughout the world to see operations with our own eyes and build partnerships for safety and quality.
- Step 3-Rigorous Third-Party Food Safety Audits: designed and overseen by a global food safety expert to identify and preventatively mitigate risks ranging from a microscopic to macroscopic level.
- Step 4-Product Safety Testing at Independent Lab: each lot is tested for harmful pathogens in an independent microbiology lab prior to being released to clients. Every lot is also tested for radiation, and products are randomly tested for heavy metals and pesticide residue based on a proprietary strategic screening system.
- Step 5-Ongoing Compliance/Continuous Improvement: working with food safety experts to stay on top of the latest science and best practices to mitigate risks and then sharing these methods with our partners.
- Step 6-Grower Education and Giving Back: via the development of our MOST Foundation, which offers programs to educate farmers, and then rewards those who are leaders in food safety and organic integrity.
Step 1: Extensive Supplier Pre-Qualification Screening
Prior to purchasing any product, MOST requires a wide variety of detailed information sets and documentation validating our suppliers' food safety commitments, which is then screened by our highly experienced and trained compliance manager. This information includes, but is not limited to:
- A copy of suppliers' valid and current organic certification
- A completed and reviewed Multiple Organics Quality and Operations Survey
- Individual product specifications/tolerances
- Product allergen statements
- Processing flow charts
- Product nutritional information
- GMP and HACCP plans
- Recall and Recovery programs
- ISO and other safety/quality standards certifications
- A supplier-completed C-TPAT Security Survey (International only)
- Suppliers' FDA/Bioterrorism registration number
Food for Thought: Who is "Trading" Your Ingredients?
While a person has to pass a bar exam to practice law, or a multitude of tests to sell stocks or real estate, there is no test that one has to pass in order to sell food, which if sold without understanding food safety could be hazardous, even deadly. We believe this socioeconomic and illogical disconnect is at the root of food safety issues. To ensure we are following the best practices, members of the Multiple Organics team, including the CEO/founder, have been trained and certified in the concepts of HACCP and we employ a compliance manger who is also SQF 2000 certified as an in-house practitioner.
While we believe that the above represents the minimum responsible practices, our MOST program goes much further...
Step 2: Personal Visit to Suppliers
A commitment or certification on paper is the first step, but we want to see that our suppliers are living up to their promises with our own eyes. Thus, Multiple Organics personnel visit our worldwide suppliers on a regular basis, inspecting their facilities and the conditions in which they operate.
Furthermore, MOST incorporates a realistic evaluation and approach to cultural differences and historical practices at the farm and processing levels. Our team of experienced professionals, as well as our scientific advisory board, regularly assesses heightened risks based on the nature of specific food items and origins.
Step 3: Rigorous Third-Party Food Safety Audits
Taking this yet another step further, Multiple Organics maintains an ongoing program of sending third party food-safety auditors to our partners' processing facilities and farms to identify and preventatively mitigate risks that range from a microscopic to macroscopic level. These auditors, who are overseen by a globally respected GMA-Certified microbiology expert, conduct our proprietary, comprehensive pass or fail food safety audit.
These food safety experts also act in an advisory capacity to raise awareness of any new regulatory issues and emerging technologies that have recently become available. This is all in an effort to lower potential safety risks from farm to fork while maintaining the excellent organoleptic qualities and nutrient levels we demand for our customers.
Step 4: Product Safety Testing at Independent Microbiology Lab
Even with the best-known practices in place, food can still become contaminated. Thus, upon arrival of every load of product into our warehouses, samples are drawn as per a prescribed protocol designed by a leading third-party independent microbiology laboratory.
- Each Lot Tested for Pathogens and Radiation: Samples from each lot are then tested for illness-causing pathogens using recognized AOAC & FDA BAM testing procedures. Ionizing radiation testing is conducted with an NIST-traceable device that is recognized as the leader in radiation testing devices. In response to the recent events in Japan and because of the possibility that these same events can occur at any time in any place, Multiple Organics also tests every lot of product we receive for signs of radiation contamination. And while you may not buy products sourced from Japan or anywhere near a nuclear disaster, there is still a chance of contamination. For example, what if your U.S.-based supplier's organic fertilizer includes fish emulsion (a common ingredient) and that fish was caught off the shores of Japan? This is just one example of the level of detail MOST considers.
- Strategic Random Testing for Heavy Metals and Pesticide Residue: Multiple Organics' MOST program also employs the use of a proprietary, custom-designed "random generator." This system is based on risk analysis algorithms that lead to a variety of other extensive tests from pesticide/herbicide screenings, heavy metals and sulfites, to allergen contamination and many more. The specifics of what items/origins are more heavily screened change and grow as global conditions including natural and man-made disasters present new challenges.
- Required Third-Party COA: While some companies say they are testing products for food safety, are they? And is testing done in-house, which can be biased, or by an independent third-party? No product is released from Multiple Organics' warehouses until a Certificate of Analysis (COA) from an independent lab is received indicating the product is suitable and safe for human consumption. These COA's, as well as product specifications and nutritional values, are available to all our valued customers together with order confirmations.
Step 5: Ongoing Compliance and Continuous Improvement
In addition to being a first-of-its-kind program, MOST is an ever-evolving best practices approach that is flexible enough respond to the latest environmental, regulatory and customer requirements. Multiple Organics has assembled a team of independent food safety experts to help ensure that MOST:
- Consistently reflects Multiple Organics' core commitment to best practices
- Is responsive to current food safety issues as they unfold in real time, anticipating the food safety aspects of world events that potentially affect everyone's access to safe and healthful food
While we recognize the reality that perfection in food safety is unattainable and that there is no way to eliminate all risks, the MOST program was developed with the goal of achieving the best food safety practices in the industry, while continuously working to make sure that the MOST standards evolve as new information is discovered. This means taking into account the latest scientific research, historical analysis and the predictive aspects of food safety along with observations and critiques from the growing fields and processing operations.
Multiple Annual Mock Recalls. Additionally, our methodically-documented recall program requires Multiple Organics to conduct mock recalls on a regular basis in order to strengthen our ability to communicate in a timely and effective manner in the worst case scenario, thus reducing impact and containing the problem as fast as humanly possible.
Step 6: The MOST Foundation-Grower Partner Education and Rewards
To help our grower partners understand the importance of food safety, and encourage buy-in, we promote the teaching of the fundamental principles of GAP (Good Agricultural Practices) and between our supplier partners and Multiple Organics, we provide incentives to utilize best practices in their farming and harvesting activities.
In recognition of the sacrifice that our global partners make to strive to meet our high standards, we have initiated formation of the MOST Foundation to give back to the communities where our partners live and work and to promote food safety worldwide. Most recently, we launched a project to provide solar panels for the homes of Peruvian cacao and quinoa farmers who have not had access to electricity and have shown a strong commitment to organic integrity and food safety. For more information, go to www.multipleorganics/solarpanelproject.
Our Promise: Conclusion
By developing and investing in MOST, we maintain the basic tenet that food safety is a right of the consumer and a responsibility of the provider. Thus, Multiple Organics voluntarily takes these extra steps to ensure that the foods we supply to our customers, your customers, and ultimately the general public, are the safest, highest quality organic products available. This is our promise to you.
We encourage you to be a part of MOST! Work with us to create a safer food system, share this information with your consumers and retailers and push all your suppliers to start taking more preventative food safety action. Together we can create a safer, more sustainable food system for all.