With more than 12 years of food industry experience, Waley Wang exemplifies the depth of industry knowledge and expertise characteristic of TÜV SÜD’s food safety testing and inspection personnel in China. Based in TÜV SÜD Greater China’s Products Testing facility in Qingdao in eastern Shandong Province, Waley has spent most of his career on the front lines of food safety as a food safety inspector. Now, Waley supervises a staff of six inspectors, who inspect and audit food production facilities throughout China’s North Region.
Waley recently spoke with Food & Health E-ssentials about his experience in food inspection, the food safety challenges faced by producers in China, and how TÜV SÜD is supporting China’s food industry in their efforts to bring safe food products to markets around the world.
Food & Health E-ssentials: Please tell us a little about your position and your responsibilities at TÜV SÜD.
Waley Wang: I am currently in charge of food safety inspections and second-party auditing services for TÜV SÜD’ Food Health and Beauty group in Greater China. Our team of six inspectors works with client companies located throughout northern and eastern China.
F&HE: How did you begin your career in the food industry, and what kind of work did you do prior to joining TÜV SÜD?
WW: I began my career in the food industry as an inspector at one of China’s leading certification bodies (CBs). During my time there, I worked as a food inspector and as a second-party auditor, as well as sales manager. Before joining TÜV SÜD in 2010, I served as regional sales manager for another well-known CB here in China.
F&HE: You’ve spent a number of years in the industry as a food safety inspector. From your perspective, have food safety practices improved over that time? If so, how have they improved?
WW: Since the beginning of the 21st century, there has been a significant build-up in our country’s manufacturing industry, along with major investments in upgrading China’s industrial base. At the same time, China has become a major trading partner with countries around the world.
Because of these and other factors, Chinese consumers are giving more attention to the products that they buy, and increasingly demanding access to high-quality products that are also safe. At the same time, China’s product safety laws, have imposed important regulations on manufacturers and producers to help ensure the safety of products on the market. This has helped to foster the development of a robust testing industry to verify product compliance with government regulations and to help ensure product safety.
Originally implemented in 2009 and revised in 2015, China’s Food Safety Law has definitely helped to improve the overall quality and safety of food products sold here. It has strengthened record-keeping and registration requirements for food producers and importers, implemented more rigorous requirements for certain specialty foods and for online food retailers, and increased penalties and sanctions for non-compliant food products. These actions have given the average Chinese citizen greater access to safe food.
F&HE: In working with some of the world’s leading food producers, what are some of the other changes that you’ve observed?
From my perspective, the world’s leading food producers and manufactures are paying more and more attention to food safety, introducing internal quality control programmes and requiring their suppliers to demonstrate compliance with industry-standard food safety requirements, protocols and testing procedures. When large producers demand greater attention to food safety, entities throughout the supply chain must follow along if they wish to remain competitive.
F&HE: On the other side, what are some of the major issues you’ve seen that compromise the quality and safety of food products?
WW: Working to control all of the variables affecting food safety across the entire supply chain is a complex and often costly process, which can often result in more expensive and higher-priced products. Many food producers have a real challenge in balancing quality and safety against the prices that consumers are willing to pay, but too often cut corners on safety issues to save money.
F&HE: In your experience, what one or two aspects of food safety are most overlooked by food producers?
WW: In my experience, two of the biggest aspects of food safety that are most often overlooked by food producers include failing to account for and assess quality control measures used by suppliers, and failing to establish an effective system for executing product recalls when unsafe foods are identified.
F&HE: TÜV SÜD has a major presence among food producers in China. Can you briefly describe the scope of food auditing and testing services that TÜV SÜD offers in your country?
WW: Sure! The table below illustrates the scope of our services, and how industry participants across the entire food supply spectrum can leverage our expertise.
F&HE: One of the specific areas of focus for your inspection service activities is that of canned food safety. What are some of the unique safety issues associated with canned foods?
WW: One of the most important safety issues related to canned and other packaged foods are not the foods inside the can but the packaging itself. Increasingly, food packaging materials are a primary source of food spoilage or contamination, either because the packaging barrier is not sufficient to protect the food, or because the packaging material contains chemicals or other potentially harmful substances that contaminate the food.
F&HE: Please describe for us how can food safety audits by outside third-parties can contribute to the safety of food and food products
WW: A food safety audit conducted by a reputable third party will almost always be impartial, and is more likely to provide an objective evaluation of the effectiveness of the quality systems and procedures used by food manufacturers to produce safe food and food products. What’s more, regular audits by third parties are more likely to increase and sustain overall food safety awareness among employees of food safety producers.
F&HE: Finally, how can TÜV SÜD help food producers in their efforts to bring safe food products to market?
WW: We have the in-depth experience in food testing, inspection and auditing to help ensure the safety of food products, from raw materials to final products. And we can also provide training and other knowledge-based services to help our clients to increase their awareness of effective food safety principles and practices.