How we ensure food safety
The quality and safety of our products is our top priority. Here are just some of the steps we take to ensure that the Nestlé products you buy are safe to consume.
Our approach to food safety covers the entire supply chain, starting with farmers and suppliers. We follow rigorous procurement and auditing processes to ensure we select safe, high quality raw materials. This includes defining specifications for the materials we use, and performing checks to ensure they always comply with the most stringent regulations and the latest scientific knowledge. If they don’t comply, we reject them.
All our manufacturing facilities, wherever they are in the world, are designed to ensure we prepare our products to the highest quality and safety standards. This includes preventing foreign bodies from entering products, enabling the management of allergens, and controlling pests. Our factories are all built according to precise prerequisites, including those for a clean and safe water supply, for air filtration, and for any material that will come into contact with food. These guarantee that the materials, equipment and manufacturing environment are all designed to produce safe products.
We carefully manage the flow of ingredients and products in and out of our factories to ensure raw materials and prepared foods are properly segregated. Our factories have dedicated zones, equipment and utensils for different ingredients to prevent cross-contamination. We follow certified cleaning and sanitation practices at every step of production, and our employees are trained to fully adhere to the principles of good food hygiene.
Our recipes and processing techniques are scientifically formulated to always deliver safe and nutritionally adequate products. For example, we prepare products to provide an appropriate and consistent source of nutrients, avoiding any harm linked to over- or under-dosing. We process food at optimum temperatures to retain its nutritious value, while removing dangerous microorganisms and preventing the formation of harmful levels of chemical contaminants.
Before a batch of product leaves one of our factories, it must pass a 'positive release' test to confirm it is safe to consume. At Nestlé we carry out more than 100 million tests a year to verify product compliance with internal and external standards, including for harmful compounds or microorganisms in the materials we use, the environment we operate in, and also in our final products that reach the marketplace.
We don’t test products to check they're safe. We do so to verify that they are. We have so many stringent, inbuilt controls to guarantee safety, that by the time we reach the final testing stages, we’re already extremely confident that the finished product is safe.
Packaging and transportation
When products are released from the factory, we make sure they reach their destination in optimum condition. For chilled or frozen products, this also means ensuring they are stored and transported at the correct temperature.
Packaging has a vital role to play in ensuring our products reach consumers in a safe condition. It also carries clear information about how to prepare, store and use the product, with information on ingredients as well as any allergen risks. We make sure that best-before and use-by dates are correct so consumers understand when the product will be past its best and when it will no longer be safe to consume. This also helps to avoid generating unnecessary waste.
Packaging also helps to ensure traceability in our factories. We use unique batch codes to tell us exactly when a product was produced, what ingredients went into it and where those ingredients came from. We have an early warning system to help us pinpoint signals that may develop into issues. The earlier we can spot potential issues, the better we can prevent or manage them.
Food safety is never static. Expectations shift, regulations change and our scientific knowledge evolves. That is why we constantly improve our procedures and share our expertise in industrial forums, with external authorities and our consumers.
Science behind safety
The capability to measure and evaluate the health risks of potentially hazardous chemical and microbiological agents is the foundation for the manufacturing of safe food products. At Nestlé, we apply state-of-the art analytical methods and novel data management approaches to assess and address potential hazards. As these are rapidly evolving fields, we closely follow and contribute to new scientific developments. We are also active in research on novel technologies to ensure that the best and most innovative scientific approaches are implemented to support the safety of our products.
Safety by design in R&D
New product development may involve the use of new ingredients, new applications of traditional ingredients, or new process technologies or conditions. Before any product launch, we ensure that these are safe and compliant with any regulatory requirements.
All relevant chemical and microbiological hazards are identified and scientifically assessed. Upstream food safety assessments are carried out at the new product development level, thus integrating 'design safety into the product'. This serves as a basis to establish safety testing strategies in line with regulatory requirements, and to establish product specifications which are translated into operational management programs ensuring the manufacturing of safe products for consumers everywhere.