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Thursday, 24 December 2015

A Series of Unfortunate Misconceptions:

Misconception 20 “Processed food is harmful" - False: 

Processed food becomes harmful only when processors infuse it with incompatible substances and adopt careless processing practices in its production. Some foods that are often considered safe could actually be more harmful if not processed (e.g. the manioc plant naturally has cyanide that is inactivated through proper processing - Food and Agriculture Organization

Misconception 19 - “An operating practice is automatically acceptable if it is documented as a Standard Operating Procedure." False: 
Nonsense can be documented and blindly followed as standard practice where relevant knowledge is lacking..

Misconception 18 - “A third party certificate shields and exonerates the holder in the event of a lawsuit” False: 
Ask lawyers from the Law Firm of Marler Clark. 

Misconception 17 - “Anything that increases the profit margin for a company is good” - False: 
Not so, says the astute manager! Profits gained through dishonest, illegal or oppressive means are never good and may vanish quicker than they are realized. Also, profits gained through playing tricks on consumers may turn the joke around on the trickster.

Misconception 16 - “The primary purpose of food safety and quality system audits is to help operations gain more business” False: 
Gaining more business is the secondary purpose of product safety and quality system audits. The primary purpose is to assess if the audited system is actually capable of ensuring the safety and quality of food.

Misconception 15 - “Conflict of interest can be completely avoided through the observance of strict rules of business and professional engagement” False: 

There is no such thing as complete neutrality. While blatant gain-seeking interests can be detected and discouraged, the complete elimination of conflict of interest in any business or professional engagement is impossible because ulterior motives are difficult, if not impossible, to detect. The best that can be achieved through rules of conduct is to reach a point of accepting or ignoring the inevitable. Ulterior motives and interests in business and professional engagements are inevitable. Even with such altruistic gestures as giving ALL of the profits from business enterprises or payments received from professional engagements to charity, there are underlying motives and interests.

Misconception 14 
- “A short-duration scrutinizing process that is infrequently used at a given location, and measured against pseudo-parameters of success (the superficial artefacts of its implementation), can be rigorous enough to be trustworthy” False: 
This is a misleading suggestion. If scrutiny is necessary, it must be frequent, constant and consistent. The measure of its success must look at the real outcome that it is intended to produce – not the superficial artefacts of its implementation. 

Misconception 13 
- “The most important thing in product safety assurance is for an operation to maintain paperwork that demonstrates due diligence and will stand up in court.”False: 
Maintaining the optimum level of paperwork that is properly organized is important but it is not the most important thing. It is easy to create paperwork that may appear to demonstrate due diligence and will legally stand up in court. What is really most important is for the operation to actually implement and diligently maintain processes and practices that ensure product safety. Only the paperwork that follows such committed implementation will stand up in court and will demonstrate due diligence.

Misconception 12 - “Self-monitoring and/or self- regulation is taboo. It does not have as much built-in accountability and high standards of expectation as the monitoring done by a second or third parties.” False: 

Evidence shows, and external monitors and regulators even admit that they cannot guarantee that monitored parties will consistently comply when the external monitoring or regulating personnel have left the scene. The external parties even demand that operations must internally monitor and regulate their systems. A key understanding of a good control measure in the internationally accepted HACCP and similar concepts is that a control measure is best applied and most effective when it is consistently, correctly and completely applied at the point/place where it must be applied. Regulation/or control from any party that is external to an operation is by nature and by practice intermittent, inconsistent and incomplete. Industry must learn or be guided (or trained) to genuinely, and with integrity, self-monitor and self-regulate. This is necessary for there to be any hope of a consistent, complete and effective control of systems that must protect consumers. Self-regulation is not taboo where there is good knowledge and integrity. Self-regulation is essential and mandatory if consumers are to be protected as consistently and completely as possible.

Misconception 11 - “It is best for business to yield without questioning customers' uninformed and unreasonable demands, even where these are detrimental to the customers.” False: 
This may seem smart at first but it is suicidal: What happens to the customers' trust and confidence when they eventually learn that you did not show enough concern and initiative to provide helpful guidance even though you knew that their demands were detrimental to them? They will pack their bags and leave.

Misconception 10 -“Comprehensive and detailed product safety and quality system assessments by third parties are to be requested only after the systems are fully established.” Alas! We have a case of misplaced wisdom of verifying, after the fact, that the right things have been done. 
A better approach is for operators and competent assessors (third party audits if you wish) to be truly proactive in ensuring that the right things are done at each step from the inception of business ideas or proposals, through to the plans, preparations and development.

Misconception 9 
-“Gaining a third party certification will give the purchaser confidence about the safety and quality of your product” False: 
This claim represents an unfortunate diversion from the correct basis for the purchaser's confidence. It is not the gaining of certification that should give the purchaser confidence; it is the demonstrated reality of a safe and quality product that should give the purchaser confidence. Incidentally, a third party certification is only a snapshot corroboration of the reality that can already be demonstrated in the product - hopefully and wisely.

Misconception 8 
-“You have to pay more to get more.” False: 
You don’t!
With a combination of thorough needs assessment, investigation of the merits of what you are paying for, good planning, and a strategic capitalization on the economy of scale opportunities, you can actually pay less for more. 

Misconception 7 -“Only the defaulting businesses suffer the undesirable consequences of their unsafe and poor quality products.” 
Consumers suffer some of the consequences. Innocent employees within the businesses suffer the possibility of lost jobs. Businesses offering the same line of product suffer adverse publicity consequences. In some jurisdictions, the tax payers (all of us) foot the bill for some activities of the respective governments in dealing with resulting problems (health problems, economic loss problems, loss of employment problems, et cetera). 

Misconception 6- “More stringent regulatory requirements imposed on producers and manufacturers will produce a safer food supply” -
There are several problems with this: 
i). Producers and manufacturers constitute only one link (two links at the most) within the supply chain. Food distribution, food service (restaurants, canteens), consumers, etc., are some of the other links in the chain. ii) More stringent standards will certainly exacerbate the already tense atmosphere between regulators and operators who think regulators are out to put them out of business. This in turn leads to deliberate attempts by operators to circumvent the rules. Some operators are smart enough to do the barest minimum that will make them appear compliant. iii) With more stringent requirements must come the expanded enforcement in terms of the number of enforcers and enforcement opportunities. The general observation is that many enforcement agencies are adopting enforcement contraction instead of expansion strategies. Enforcing more stringent regulatory requirements is not the preferred approach to ensuring a safer food supply.

Misconception 5 - “We are better at detecting product safety issues. Therefore we are better off in spite of the increased incidences of reported product safety issues” 
Without a measurable and progressive reduction in product safety issues, advances in issue detection techniques have not produced the desired effect. The industry is not better off since product safety issues persist.
Misconception 4 - “Compliance is sufficient” False:  
Compliance is insufficient if it is without the consistent protection and satisfaction of consumers. Standards of compliance are relevant only where the stated standards to be complied with provide sufficient confidence that the desired effects will be achieved through compliance. Therefore, conclusions about compliance should mean that the desired effects and goals of the standards are achieved. If any conclusion of compliance to the standard fails to produce the desired effect or goal, it inevitably means that the standard is either faulty or it is improperly applied. Since rules and regulations governing commercially available products are generally for the protection of the consumers/users, any rule or regulation that does not ensure the safety and satisfaction of the consumer ought to be discarded. Compliance to such rules or regulations is redundant and wasteful.

Misconception 3 -“The audit 'standard' is only rule that must be obeyed” False: 
Those who hold to this misconception are invariably subjected to the tyranny of the “audit standard”. They are therefore bound in fetters of meaningless enterprise because no so-called audit standard (checklist or guideline) is sufficiently comprehensive and complete. The industry needs to replace the mentality that causes audit "standards" to be tyrannical and focus more on the essential bodies of knowledge that it already has to protect the consumer. Much depends on how consumers are well served (effectively, efficiently and consistently).

Misconception 2 - “Food and Health product companies that are not run by the government are the PRIVATE sector” False: 
Nothing can be more public than producing products for public consumption. As many companies that have suffered the consequences of producing harmful products can attest, it is not such a PRIVATE matter.

Misconception 1 - “Rank and file jobs are menial jobs and these rank lower than the roles of managers or leaders” False: 
Managers leaders serve a smaller scope but equally significant purpose as the rank and file. Managers only serve the rank and file and the company; while the rank and file serves the larger scope and equally significant purpose of delivering safe products that satisfy the interests of consumers namely: the safety, security, quality and usefulness of products.

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