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Friday, 22 December 2017

The Long Awaited Release

Updated December 22, 2017

No more pre-registration and waiting to obtain a copy.


GCSE- Food & Health Protection is pleased to announce the official release of the SSQA Implementation Manual first edition following the completion of the technical review. You are now able to obtain either a single copy or enroll to have access to the online copy and updates.


Join the Strategic Integration Squad (SSQA-D)

For details about how to obtain a copy of the SSQA Implementation Manual or enroll in the program, please go to: SSQA Program Enrolment.
If you have questions about the manual or the enrolment program, you may contact the SSQA Development Team directly at: gcse@afisservices.com.

Thursday, 21 December 2017

Spreading the SSQA Dawn in 2018


AFISServices Workshops Toronto Event, April 30 - May 2, 2018

Happy Holidays Offer (with all other discount offers remaining in effect): Register before January 5, 2018 to receive a free copy of the current 101-page searchable PDF copy of the SSQA Implementation Manual. Your Registration will be automatically time-stamped but you may also keep a record of your registration date as proof. Take a look at the Full table of Content

Thursday, 30 November 2017

Is it always okay if you are not sick within a few days after eating contaminated food?

According to WHO:
The great majority of people will experience a foodborne disease at some point in their lives. This highlights the importance of making sure the food we eat is not contaminated with potentially harmful bacteria, parasites, viruses, toxins and chemicals.
Food can become contaminated at any point during production, distribution and preparation. Everyone along the production chain, from producer to consumer, has a role to play to ensure the food we eat does not cause diseases.
 Contaminated Food
http://www.who.int/features/factfiles/food_safety/en/

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Temperature of Food Safety Management

From the posted comments under the poll to take the “. . . temperature of Food Safety Management” in my LinkedIn update post, the concerns listed below emerged. Although the list is sad to see, it is encouraging to know that the SSQA concept already suggests a reasonable solution for every one the listed concerns. Since many of my posts in this blog drew inspiration from SSQA principles, I have prepared a simple table to show the identified concern and the post addressing it. In many of the posts, I attempted to do what the SSQA Implementation Manual does better. It identifies the issue and suggests a practical solution strategy.
Clearly, with so much else keeping us busy, it may not be possible to read all of the associated posts in one sitting. The list will remain posted. You may bookmark it and return to read more:
Listed Concern
Related Blog Post 

Distracting & ineffective generic training



Profit-driven 3rd-party audits and certification





Lack of commitment



Emerging hazards



Poor program implementation



Superficial compliance



Food fraud (Deliberate poor practices)



Quackery or Charlatan Consultants



Lack of culture of compliance

On the contrary:


Lack of commitment through the chain of custody



Lack of concern towards health of consumer



Lack of consumer awareness

Same as above


Lack of regulatory knowledge



Political interference





Poor Regulatory Enforcement



Lack of food safety culture



Paper-work burden



 Posted by Felix Amiri
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Felix Amiri is currently the chair of GCSE-Food & Health Protection, and a sworn SSQA advocate. 

Monday, 23 October 2017

Food Industry Self-Regulation and Government Regulatory Oversight

"The costs of auditing in the UK are enormous and contribute to the cost of the food we purchase. Thus we the public are not getting value for money in any shape or form. Audit after audit does the same tickbox exercises, the results of which are never shared. Can you imagine going to get two medical opinions and the medics not knowing the outcomes of the other? This is utter nonsense. I would urge the Select Committee to ask serious questions about how food business audits should operate. A reduction in the cost burden and an immense improvement in quality are achievable. I really think it’s time for the vested interests striving to keep the same old same old be weeded out and new ways of operating introduced. Audits need to be unannounced, rigorous, and performed by very well trained staff who understand what to look for and where to look, and know what questions to ask. . . " –
 "Food plant audits need a rethink"
The Grocer20 Oct 2017 Professor Chris Elliott is director of the Institute for Global Food Security at Queen’s University Belfast

I agree with much of what Professor Chris Elliot said in the above quoted portion of his post to the Grocer on October 20, 2017. However, I beg to differ with his suggestion about unannounced audits if offered as a permanent solution. Unannounced audits may be useful because things are unfortunately as bad as they are today. The industry should have grown well beyond that level and must.


With his permission and request to respect his privacy, I have reproduced part of what a respected professional friend wrote to me recently with some highlights below. I believe, from the context, that by “self-regulation” he means the industry regulating itself and being granted the recognition by government agencies to do so.
In fact, according to a 1 report referenced below that was attached to the note from my friend, the UK-FSA has been considering the BRC scheme (a voluntary industry third-party audit scheme) as providing impetus for reducing the frequency of regulatory oversight at the food businesses that subscribe to this third-party scheme. This friend is clearly infuriated by the suggestion. Here is what he said:
“Hi Felix,
. . .  I read your posts on LinkedIn with great interest and thought you might find this (from the UK Food Standards Agency) of interest. My specific area of expertise is largely confined to food safety within food logistics and distribution so I cannot claim to have a knowledge of all areas. Nevertheless I am particularly well versed in areas such as standards, scheme audits and certification but more specifically the lack of attainment of regulatory standards by many organisations and the lack of a correlation between audits, certifications and achievement of regulatory compliance.
12 months ago a BBC Watchdog programme exposed serious home delivery food safety issues. Interestingly we’ve just seen a similar investigation in to a chicken preparation fiasco at a major UK manufacturer, Two Sisters. In both these situations self-regulation would have undoubtedly  worsened matters as active external auditing of BRC standards was taking place at the Two Sisters plant. If the involvement of external third-party audits is unable to prevent the abandonment of fundamental food safety disciplines what hope is there for the same businesses to suddenly meet regulatory standards on a voluntary basis?
Self-regulation is with us already however. . . For a number of years we have been working in a significant (and regulated) part of the food supply chain without seeing any evidence of involvement of the regulator (FSA) or indeed any evidence that third-party audits and certification deals with the physical handling, containment and transport of food. Therefore it must follow that in the absence of any checks or regulatory controls those companies responsible for and involved with the handling, containment and transport of food, must be performing their own internal audits which ensure their operations are compliant with regulatory requirements? That must be a reasonable assumption surely?
Of course the reality is that none of those companies are attempting to ensure their operations are compliant. There is no benefit for them to do so nor any price to pay if they are not. What action was taken against any of the offenders following the BBC Watchdog expose? What action will be taken against Two Sisters? None. How will self-regulation improve anything?
There is and always has been an unhealthy collusion between the UK FSA and certain organisations. The BRC sits at the table playing two hands of cards in the same game - alongside these other organisations and the FSA and they all show each other their cards. Everyone wins because no-one loses.
The slightest attempt to interact with or ask questions of the FSA, the BRC, the FSDF and other crony organisations immediately unearths their belief that they enjoy positions of privilege. In speaking to these  organisations the common denominator has become one of a belief that they are exempt or immune from question or inspection and that they are in positions of authority. Unfortunately I have felt like the little boy in the story of the King’s New Clothes. While others seem happy to proffer or bow to these beliefs I immediately saw them to be unfounded, false and simply built on their creation of a private sanctum, a haven for the privileged few. I find it abhorrent.
The BRC has carved out a ridiculously privileged position. It sits on the UK FSA’s right hand as (i) a representative body for British retailers, (ii) as a commercially-driven, profit-oriented certification / membership scheme and (iii) as a profit-motivated producer and purveyor of written standards (which do not necessarily cover all aspects of the supply chain or reflect regulatory requirements). However they are the perfect foil for the FSA. They are the ‘get-out-of-jail’ card together with the existing infrastructure of UK FSA Friends who I’m quite certain will be cartwheeling around their offices at the prospect of self-regulation. The greatest problem is that the number and types of organisation entwined within all this is massive. We’re dealing with a large pack of dogs happy to sniff each other dog’s backside to protect everyone’s interests.
It is disingenuous in the extreme for the UK FSA to claim their document is a recent development or the outcome of any ‘project’. This has been shaped, designed and built over many years of collective collusion and mutual machinations. It is a grotesque self-serving contrivance but I fear it will happen and food safety standards will continue to slip still further away from the protection of consumers.
I’ll be interested in your views.
Kind regards, . . .”
The last paragraph is in reference to the summary report referenced below. Liam Jennings of FoodChainCompliance.com also works as a consultant with this professional friend who sent the above excerpts. He (Liam) said he could have said exactly the same things as this friend. The referenced UK-FSA report also appears to contain enough information indicating that it would be a mistake for the regulatory agency to reduce the frequency of regulatory inspection of food business operators (FBOs) even if they have attained the BRC certification.

What about you? Are you similarly infuriated or frustrated because of similar suggestions where you are? I invite you to share your thoughts, suggestions, or anything else that is on your mind about the future of the food industry and its regulation.


1 Robinson , Y. (2017, September). Summary Report of the Pilot Project on the Potential for Recognition of the BRC Global Standard for Food Safety. Retrieved October 22, 2017, from https://www.food.gov.uk/sites/default/files/fsa-brc-report-oct17.pdf
Posted by Felix Amiri
___________________________________________________________
Felix Amiri is currently the chair of GCSE-Food & Health Protection, and a sworn SSQA advocate.