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Monday, 8 April 2013

Avoiding the Lure of the Pied Piper - Product Safety and Quality System Implementation and Certification

Determine What Works for Your Operation:

Do not simply go with the flow. The piped tune may seem irresistible and enchanting but you must check the facts, not the appearances. 

Is your Company among the crowd?

Certification may or may not be the best course for you to take as a supplier or a customer. You should assess your return on investment with respect to the time and money spent on doing irrelevant things that matters little. You should take a serious and good look at the product pricing impact. You should consider having a genuinely and properly implemented product safety system versus simply obtaining a certificate for display. Remember that the certificate is often side stepped (even by the requesting customers), especially in the event of undesirable product outcomes.

In the event that you decide to be certified, you should thoroughly investigate the demonstrated track record of the certification scheme and the certification bodies prior to making your selection. There is no harm in discussing the selection with your requesting customers where possible. Make sure that the certification actually leads to the production of safer and higher quality products; not products that are merely imagined to be safer and of higher quality. After all, the requesting customers are ultimately interested in products that are actually safer and of higher quality. If that is not their interest, it should be.

Beyond the audit scheme and certification body selection phase, you need to ensure: continuous business improvement; product performance tracking; and cost management protocols.  Ensuring product safety demands ongoing operation assessment and, if certified, a continuing review of the post certification performance and the actual (quantified) reduction in product failure under the selected certification program. This requires a pre-certification assessment of your product failure experiences (quantitatively).

Specifics of Post Certification Assessment

You should look at the actual (not imagined) outcomes realized through certification. Whether you are the supplier or the requesting customer, the questions you must answer (after collecting real supporting data) are these:
- With respect to safer and higher quality products what are the actual (not imagined) before and after pictures?
 What are the actual (not roughly calculated) rates of product failure prior to system implementation and/or certification?
-  What is the actual (not presumed) reduction in the rates of failure after system implementation and/or certification?
-  What are the real, i.e. real data-supported (not theoretical) costs and benefits?
- What is the consistency track record of maintaining the supposedly achieved results?
- Could the same results be achieved through established science and industry best practices and without the certification?
Posted By Felix Amiri

Felix Amiri is the current Food Sector Chair of GCSE-Food & Health Protection

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