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Saturday, 7 September 2013

Watch, Guard and Protect - Internal Assessment Programs

Good guards do not leave their posts. A system that provides such guards is far superior to that of intermittent assessors that leave the post for long periods of time.

  Employing the right guards is a sure way to win 
the food safety war.

These may be linked but a clear difference and a clear choice exist between FORTIFICATION and CERTIFICATION  if a company must choose.
All well fortified companies may not be certified and all certified companies may not be well fortified. In any case, only well fortified companies stand to win the food safety battle. 
In time, all superficially robust, elitist and resource-draining product safety management schemes will give way to systems that truly address everyday realities. Evolving systems will allow program managers and assessors to effectively focus on areas with real benefits and/or issues. The evolving systems will largely be managed internally within a framework of productive collaboration such as is possible with the SSQA concept.

The evolving systems will also foster a properly managed scope of audits with specific attention given to the unique realities within each operation. Present generic (one template for many facilities) approach to auditing will become obsolete. With the increased capacity for resource optimization that they bring, internal assessment programs will increasingly gain proper attention and respect.

A properly designed and managed internal assessment program is a key feature of SSQA implementation step 6. The SSQA approach to managing internal assessment programs is based on the universally proven strategy of “divide and conquer”. This strategy can be adopted by companies in all sectors to ensure effective internal assessment programs.

At first, the divide and conquer strategy may appear to create more audits. What it actually does is optimize the time spent on auditing with the net effect of quicker improvements to the overall system.

It is essential to note that while this strategy works well for internal assessment programs, expecting external certification schemes to adopt this kind of strategy would be unfair. It would be impractical for the certification schemes and the costs would be astronomical for certified companies. However, for internal purposes and according to the SSQA Implementation Guide instructions for managing this strategy, its adoption can be properly focused, effective and exciting.

The “divide and conquer” strategy involves the categorization of audits or assessments as provided under the SSQA Implementation step 6 – “Continuing Analysis of Realized Effectiveness and Efficiencies” (CARE). Examples of listed audit or assessment categories include:

Overview Audits:
1.     Capture All Audit
2.     Programs Implementation and Effectiveness Assessment

Specialized Audits
1.     Management system Audit
2.     Traceability, Recovery and Yield Efficiency Audit
3.     Employee Awareness and Motivation Audit
4.     Partners Audit
5.     Contamination/Cross-Contamination Audit
6.     Incident Response Forensic Audit

What is involved in these overview and specialized audit categories are further explained in the SSQA Implementation Manual. This manual also provides some instructions about how to set up and manage the internal assessment program so that resources and the personnel involved are not overwhelmed.

I will be glad to address any questions that you may have about this topic. Meanwhile, here are links to posts that may also be of interest to you: 

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

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