An underground movement within the industry may suddenly catch the attention of people who have ignored it. This photo depicts some food safety assessment programs that focus on taking "spectacular" snap shots (snap shot audits) based on pre-set expectations without noticing the actual realities at the audited sites (the underground “lava”: Attitudes, business tendencies, wasteful traditions, cost burdens, time constraints, unnecessary time wasters and more). These are ever-poised to undermine the effectiveness of assuring the actual safety of the food produced.
The key issues addressed by Dr. Chris Elliot in his Interim Report show signs of the coming shift. One of the key suggestions includes:
The SSQA concept is both fundamentally and practically different from audit schemes. The successful implementation of the SSQA concept is assessed with direct consumer input. As far as I have seen in the audit schemes to which many operations have subscribed, consumers have very little part to play in the assessment of success with food safety and quality management systems (i.e. if at all consumers have any part).
- The pride of product safety quality certification drives the system more than the derived reality of product safety and quality consistency.
- Many operators view product safety and quality management as a "project" that is terminable at the point of certification.
- Upon obtaining certification these managers sigh and say: "Phew, we are finally certified". Consequently, the need to perpetually maintain the established systems as part of the normal operation slips.
- A great number of managers promptly go into professional sleep after each audit "pass" until a few days or a few weeks prior to the next audit.
- With much boasting about food safety advances due to more “sophisticated” and “expanded” auditing and certification schemes, some businesses have been lulled into sleeping certified - an extended and temporarily soothing certification sleep.
- For many operations, the current buzz about "food safety culture" does not go any deeper than compliance against the generic schemes suggested by parties that are more interested in selling the idea of food safety and quality management for profit instead of actually making food safe.