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Wednesday, 15 January 2014

To Certification Panic-Stricken Managers

To the Panic Stricken manager I say: You are more likely to get your certification than you may be imagining. Passing the toughest of audits, even the unannounced variety is easy. You only need to learn the terminology, develop a masterful paperwork juggling proficiency and put up appearances on the plant floor. That’s it. You will “PASS”.

You only need to dwell on the surface of food safety management proficiency to pass even those audits with much hype about being sophisticated. 

However, if you wish to truly ensure: the safety of your products, the survival of your business and your job security as a food safety & quality assurance manager, you need to rise above the fuss. You also need to go deeper in the matters of assuring food safety than most rushed money-grab training seminars can offer. Surface-dweller consultants abound. They have mastered the acronyms and learned many tricks for passing certification audits. They are able to astound some people but not everyone.

Don't Fuss; Fortify:
You must go beyond the theory for passing audits. The issue is not with your getting certified; it has to do more with the possibility of being distracted by your certification and the associate platitudes.  

Distractions of the "Just Get Certified" Philosophy:

Many questions and commentaries posted to the various food safety discussion forums clearly show that getting certified under external certification standards is a huge focus. Here is the main reason why this could be distracting to the certification panic-stricken manager: Audit schemes are great for additional verification purposes. They are designed for "after-the-fact" assessment of established programs with stated requirements identifying what is to be done but not how. You, the operator, must come up with how to accomplish the intentions of your programs. The after-the-fact assessments under these schemes only reveal whether or not what you have done or are doing meets the so-called "standards". They only offer paper-based compliance (with some in-plant observations) that can become a deadly deception. No external certification scheme is able to address every unique situation in every location that could lead to product safety or quality failure disasters. The schemes owners readily admit this fact. Yet many blindly and almost religiously follow them. 

Your operation is unique and has its unique situations. You, the operator, are fully responsible to address all of the unique situations that could lead to product failure and possible harm to the consumers of your products. You must not simply rely on the fact that you are certified against an outside certification scheme.

By all means, obtain your certification but do not sleep certified. 

It's not the way to gain job security in food safety management. 

You need to remain committed to identifying and addressing your unique situations. Else, after your certification, you may be unpleasantly surprised by lurking disasters. This has happened even to large operations. All you have to check to confirm such experiences is the list of certified operations against the list of published recalls. Keep in mind that many internally discovered, but nonetheless costly disasters are not published. What is published is never the full story about disasters that have and can occur. Many managers have become affected by the "Certified-Trance" syndrome. You should do everything to avoid it.

Don't be caught sleeping certified but don't fuss about being certified either. You should Fortify with SSQA. and you will most assuredly pass any certification assessment if you still wish to be certified. Far beyond being merely certified, you'll be effectively guarded against all enemies of food safety, security and quality assurance (SSQA).

These Posts may also be of interest:

Distinction Hallmarks of SSQA

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

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