All Premier contracted suppliers will be required to adhere to national standards set by government agencies and food safety organizations for entry into the Premier Purchasing Partners foodservice supply chain. Purchasing Partners is the first healthcare group purchasing organization (GPO) to set these types of specific quality and safety guidelines, which take food safety to a new level and beyond what was previously a minimum standard.
Standards requirements include the creation of quality systems, such as a product rotation method to ensure that only products with acceptable shelf lives are shipped; the use of reputable carriers and assurance of secured products to ensure goods are protected during the shipping process; safe handling requirements; appropriate labeling and ingredient traceability requirements; and controls to manage food that is damaged during shipping and storage. Foodservice suppliers also must commit to corporate and environmental sustainability and fair labor practices.
“Food safety is a major public health concern that is only exacerbated in the hospital setting. Because patients are already vulnerable to illness, we believe it is our responsibility to ensure the food they eat in the hospital meets the highest standards,” said Premier Purchasing Partners President Mike Alkire. “We expect that our valued suppliers will not only adhere to the policies outlined in this manual, but will also strive to make continuous improvements.”
To enforce standards, suppliers will be subject to:
• An approval audit for participation in Purchasing Partners’ supply chain.
• Annual routine audits.
• Annual plant inspections.
• Random sampling of products.
• Mock recalls to test recovery processes.
“Premier developed these standards to provide our suppliers with requirements and expectations for food quality and safety,” said Joan Ralph, Premier vice president of Continuum of Care Services. “They reflect general guidelines for developing and improving the quality systems of suppliers that provide raw food materials, food ingredients and manufactured products.”
The Premier Foodservice Program, whose members purchase more than $1.9 billion in foodservice products and supplies, combines sole-source distribution through U.S. Foodservice, aggressive contracts with foodservice manufacturers, industry leading value-added services and educational opportunities.