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Monday, 7 January 2013

Product Safety and the Futility of CYB

The most common terminology for what is described here as the CYB (Covering Your Back) enterprise is CYA. Never mind the explanation of the CYA acronym. I find it to be a bit crude. Let us stay with CYB.

The commonplace enterprise of covering one’s back constitutes a futile engagement as well as a risky business. Picture this: You have a basket full of water and you are trying to block the holes with your fingers to stop the leaks. If I were a betting man, I would bet that you would not engage in such futility. You only have ten fingers.

I view the attempts at covering one’s back in the same light as the basket of water scenario. They provide ample opportunities for abject failure.

You probably already can see the incongruity and the silliness. In reality, covering one’s back does not ensure product safety. With so many small but significant points to cover, it is already a doomed enterprise the moment CYB is conceived as the way to ensure product safety. The points to cover are not only numerous, new ones continue to emerge. You may be able to hire more people to provide more fingers for blocking the holes. Unfortunately, you will soon run out of space around the basket and woefully fail to block all of the holes.

If you are wondering why regulatory standards and, subsequently, “recognized” audit schemes are constantly changing, you now have your answer. There are numerous and emerging new points to cover almost every day. The basket unpredictably springs leaks at unsuspected points.


If your product safety strategy is built on the CYB concept, and you are not willing to re-consider that strategy, good luck! If the foundation of your food safety strategy is build on the shaky grounds of superficial certification and you are stuck there, what a pity!



If you wish to truly ensure product safety, you must throw away the basket and find a bucket (i.e. a good consumer protection) strategy. Unlike the basket of water, the "bucket" representing a good product safety strategy is more manageable. A good strategy provides the solid framework that holds things together in the same way that the bucket structurally prevents leaks.

Cover All Succeeds Where Cover-Ups Inevitably Fail: 

A good product safety strategy focuses on the actual protection of consumers instead of a CYB pre-occupation. A product safety strategy with a focus on consumer protection most successfully prevents the very things that a futile CYB enterprise attempts but fails to realistically prevent. Where products are truly safe and meet customer and consumer quality expectations, instances of product failures leading to regulatory non-compliances or litigations will be at least minimized. Here is one bucket (a good product safety strategy) with a focus on consumer protection that I know - the SSQA Program proposed by GCSE-Food & Health Protection. The SSQA is a COVER-ALL strategy. It covers all key stakeholders for each operation. It covers all areas of concern in consumer protection. It adopts techniques that covers all winning approaches in consumer protection, business survival and profitability. Very importantly, SSQA is not elitist; it is easily adaptable to cover all types, sizes and levels of of operation anywhere in the world.

If you would like to receive information about the SSQA concept, philosophy, strategy, program and training opportunities; if you want to learn the 6 steps in the adoption of SSQA; You May Subscribe to SSQA Information Updates at No costJoin the SSQA Development (SSQA-D) Community   – "the SQUAD"


Posted by By Felix Amiri
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Felix Amiri is currently the chair of GCSE-Food & Health Protection. He is also the Director of Technical Services at Amiri Food Industry Support Services (AFISS) and the Canada/U.S representative for the World Food Safety Organisation.

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