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Friday, 23 November 2012

Product Safety and Quality Management - The Deadly Willingness to Abandon Reason

Where do you stand on this as a business owner, employer, manager, employee, regulator, supporting service provider, consultant or consumer?

The “Drive-Thru” fast food concept may be growing in popularity but we cannot afford to have “Drive-Thru” product safety and quality management solutions.

As a consumer, you are not merely a spectator. However, let's say you are able to step aside to take a look at the food industryBefore long you will see casualties because some industry participants somewhere abandoned reason. A close look at the industry reveals a sad reality of an on-going recklessness that sporadically causes fatalities. The victims are individuals and companies alike. 

Many practices in the industry that may seem to make sense are, in reality, time bombs. As is typical with time bombs, they may appear harmless and even attractive at times.

Hastily assembled and superficial - "Drive-Thru"- product safety solutions are one example of such time bombs. Drive-Thru solutions are easy to recognize. For example, a consultant may write a whole system management manual for a company that only touches on every bullet provided in a commercialized audit scheme but completely ignores the daily realities faced by the company. Some who assess food safety systems remain fixated on the rule book and pay little attention to the effectiveness of assessed systems.

Many training providers, after charging large sums of money, only provide definitions and theoretical information with only imagined practical applications. They offer a variety Drive-Thru training courses in Food Safety, HACCP and commercialized certification standards. These courses (many of which are on-line these days) have little to do with the daily operational and production floor realities that the companies represented by the training recipients face.
Wanting profit at all costs is another time bomb. The craze for profit leads to the “cutting of corners” - the wrong corners mind you. These deadly time bombs often lead to costly and non-recoverable losses as many companies quickly run to the product safety and quality management corners to make their cuts. Thus, many of the product safety and quality management programs that are superficial to begin with are further impaired.

Another industry time bomb is the urge to climb to the top on the backs of others. Some big industry players often climb to the top on the backs of their small suppliers who are made to jump through all sorts of hoops to keep prices down. Employers climb on the backs of employees. In some unusual cases, employees climb on the backs of employers with insatiable demands for higher wages. Picture this: What happens when the celebratory dance of “success” by the one or ones on top creates too much instability and the exploited backs fall away?

Those who have suffered debilitating losses because of these time bombs know the pain. Those who have not may feel indifferent until unanticipated and deadly realities strike. Wherever reason is abandoned in favor of greed or make-belief, catastrophic consequences may be delayed but they are inevitable. Someone always gets hurt. Sadly, the consumers suffer the brunt of the pain. This is not just a matter of feeling sorry for the consumers. We are all consumers. Therefore we are all at risk.

These anomalies can be easily corrected if there is the collective will and collaboration.  We have work to do. Please join the Coalition: GCSE-Food & Health Protection. 

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