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Friday, 11 October 2013

Recall-Free versus Recall-Prone – A Tale of Three Companies


Understanding that no company is perfect, which of these three companies is the LEAST likely to maintain a recall free existence; which is SECOND; and which is MOST likely to maintain a recall-free existence?

Company A has strong management commitment. It invests in the employment of highly qualified and competent in-house food safety experts. This company has a highly committed and motivated workforce that is well trained in product safety and quality control processes and practices. All employees consistently adhere to proper food safety and quality assurance procedures and practices including the performance of honest and effective internal audits. Outside auditors are sometimes used for the internal audits but not always. The internal audits lead to prompt and effective corrective actions. The company sometimes uses outside consultants to help it establish, review or modify its product safety and quality management systems. Programs are relatively well documented and recorded for system tracking purposes; rather than for show to outside auditors. The company has completed only one external certification audit which it has since phased out. By choice, it has allowed its external certificate to expire. The company currently focuses on maintaining an effective and efficient internal audit program in place of external certification audits. Occasional product safety and quality issues are detected (mostly internally) and corrected before products are shipped to customers. The customers are satisfied with the safety and quality consistency of the products and have not discontinued their purchasing contracts in spite of the fact that the company does not have a "current" external certificate. The company undergoes regulatory inspections with no outstanding non-conformance issued against it.

Company B has management commitment only to cost-effectively and profitably manage the operation through the cutting of costs relating to areas like the food safety and quality management department. The management does not provide adequate funds to hire proper product safety expertise and to support adequate employee training. It does not provide adequate funds for infrastructural and equipment maintenance. The company has been able to hire a consultant who has put together a state-of-the-art documented product safety and quality management program. A dedicated "QA Manager" is charged with the responsibility for maintaining the acrobatics to ensure the company passes its audits. Polished program documents are presented when outside auditors come but shelved when the auditors are gone. Records to all programs including internal audits are kept for show. When interviewed, employees are able to state what is in the training materials but do not routinely practice them. Due to the state-of-the-art program documentation, crash sanitation activities prior to audits, availability of records for show, and employees being of the best behavior when auditors are around, the company maintains a third party certification because the customers demand such certification. In spite of occasional product safety and quality issues detected by the customers, they are confident to continue buying from this company because it has third party certification. The company undergoes regulatory inspections with the occasional instance of detected non-conformance that it immediately corrects.

Company C is privately owned and very small. It does not have sufficient funds to hire highly qualified in-house product safety and quality management experts but the owner/managers have received training in product safety and quality management from a reputable external source. The relationship between the owner/managers and the customers/consumers (mostly friends and relatives) is on a first-name basis. They (the company owner and managers) are therefore highly motivated and dedicated to ensuring the safety and satisfaction of the customers and consumers. Employees are regularly given adequate product safety and quality assurance training. The company hires appropriate contractors for infrastructural and equipment maintenance as needed. Outside consultants are sometimes hired to help the company establish, review or modify its product safety and quality management programs. The programs and records are not completely and rigorously documented but all employees consistently adhere to proper food safety and quality assurance procedures and practices. Honest and effective inspections and checks are performed (as internal audits). The internal inspections and checks lead to prompt and effective corrective actions. Customers are satisfied with the level of safety and quality consistency of purchased products. The company cannot afford to pay for the high level external certification audits. Therefore, it is not externally certified but it undergoes regulatory inspections with no outstanding non-conformance issues recorded against it.

Related blog post: Product Safety - Reality, Redundancy and Money-Drain Check


Please provide comments if you wish. You may use the space provided for comments below:

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

3 comments:

  1. The most likely to be a recall-free existence is the Company A which believes in and practices training its employees with the right resources and develops and enhances their skill set.
    Company C is would probably rank second as against Company A. They are small with not a huge bank account, but are funding their food safety systems (people process places) with whatever they can and more. They understand and do take Food Safety seriously.
    Company B, on the other hand, knows the seriousness of Food Safety but chooses to bypass the pains (which in the long run are only gains and very little pains ofcourse). They get a certificate for the sake of getting one, and will probably boast about holding one such certificate to get customers. Doesn't do good.

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  2. Ananiah, Thanks for your comments. What you said makes good sense.

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  3. Absolutely agree with Ananiah. Unfortunately, this is the state food industry is in right now.

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