Supply chain response to food safety incidents

Research output: ThesisDoctoral ThesisInternal

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The subject of this dissertation is the response to food safety incidents in logistics chains. In recent decades, the food industry has been confronted with many different incidents. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), unsafe food leads to an estimated 600 million cases of illness and 420,000 deaths worldwide. Food safety is considered important and socially relevant because of the public health, political, reputational and financial risks involved. Research into these food safety incidents usually focuses on one or a limited number of parties in the supply chain, while the chain as a whole is involved in the response. In this study of the entire food chain, five (chain) positions have been distinguished: producer, logistics service provider, wholesaler/retailer, sector organisation and food safety authority. It has been studied from which perspective these different positions act upon food safety incidents and which criteria are applied in decisions regarding the response. The research results indicate that the logistic response is primarily seen as a coordination process. The emphasis in all rounds of research was on information quality, with the challenges of transparency and traceability being mentioned. In addition to coordination, the data revealed three more critical decision criteria, namely: cooperation, communication and competence. The survey results show a clear difference in the positions' views on how to use the decision criteria for an effective response to a food safety incident. In particular, business risks are approached differently, with some positions focusing more on reputation and others more on cost-effectiveness. As a result, designing an effective logistical response in food chains can be challenging. Based on theory and data, a model was developed that distinguishes a timeline (five phases) in the logistic response process and includes decision criteria for each phase. In general, this dissertation shows the interdependence of the parties in the food chains. The research also shows the importance of transparent processes and the improvement of the information supply in the chain for an effective response to food safety incidents. The developed model is a starting point for further research on an effective response to food safety incidents.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Maastricht University
  • Vos, Bart, Supervisor
  • de Boer, Alie, Co-Supervisor
  • Jansen, Wendy, Co-Supervisor, External person
Award date6 Jul 2022
Place of PublicationMaastricht
Print ISBNs9789464238112
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • food safety incident
  • logistic response
  • supply chain management
  • collaboration

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