Black pepper from India. Vanilla from Madagascar. Cinnamon from Indonesia. Have you ever wondered how spices from the farthest reaches of the world arrive in your kitchen?
Ask Roger Lawrence, Corporate Vice President Global Quality Assurance and Regulatory with more than 40 years of experience in food safety and quality assurance leadership. He’s the go-to expert on McCormick’s ability to deliver great tasting herbs and spices.
What does quality assurance mean at McCormick?
Quality Assurance is the backbone of everything we do at McCormick—it safeguards all aspects of production from farm to shelf, ensuring we maximize and preserve the flavors of herbs and spices. Above all else, it means building trust. We determine what people want, then design and deliver products that meet those expectations. We know people buy our products because of the consistency in flavor, in appearance and in quality. Those are the expectations we meet every day.
What do you do to ensure the safety as well as the quality and flavor of your products?
We travel the world to make sure we get the best herbs and spices straight from their native environments. Some of these locations are developing countries and don’t have the same agricultural or manufacturing standards we have here. To meet those challenges, we employ a holistic farm-to-shelf approach to guarantee quality and safety.
We start as far upstream as possible. Our partner suppliers share our same commitment to quality assurance. They educate and help farmers ensure proper harvesting, drying and storing of crops.
Most importantly, we purchase whole herbs and spices as soon as they are available. Also, we manage our processing to wait as long as possible to grind them in order to preserve their flavor.
What makes McCormick unique?
Flavor and consistency set us apart. Whether trying a new recipe or making an old favorite, home cooks and influential chefs tell us our products deliver the same great flavor, time and time again.
To provide that consistency, we have to authenticate the original crops. Purchasing whole herbs and spices allows us to judge quality, purity and freshness and provides us complete control from the farm to our spice mill. All along this process, we test for integrity, quality and safety – this ingredient analysis in our labs provides us with the final validation of authenticity.
Additionally, our state-of-the-art processing facilities employ a 100-percent natural steam pasteurization system using proprietary technology to eliminate pathogens and ensure product safety. In fact, we are the only branded spice company to receive the highest level certification – level 3 – from the globally recognized and industry leading Safe Quality Food (SQF) Program.
What investments/innovations are you making in quality assurance?
We certainly look to keep our manufacturing facilities and research laboratories state of the art. But herbs and spices grow out of the ground, so some of our most important investments occur in our source countries. First and foremost, we help suppliers and farmers improve their practices. One example is our partnership with HELP MADAGASCAR. This nonprofit organization improves the lives of farming families in Madagascar’s vanilla growing region through a focus on nutrition, education and the environment.
Having a safe, stable and reliable supply source for herbs and spices provides us with a competitive edge. On top of that, we can help improve suppliers’ quality of life and socio-economic conditions – it’s just the right thing to do.