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Friday, 14 February 2014

Growth and Deviations in a Food Safety Operation

Food Safety Performance Evaluation:

Projected goals or expectations are useless without demonstrable results.

What should a food business monitor for improvements in its operation?

Some companies stop at checking external audit results.

Background Consideration

Although operation improvement opportunities and failure incidents are related, they are technically different. There is, however, one undeniable similarity: Both improvement opportunities and failure incidents can be monitored and tracked but the types of data tracked in each case are different. Another significant difference is in the desired trends. For failure incidents, a diminishing trend is desired. On the other hand, an increasing trend is desired for improvements. 

Failure incidents are discovered where monitoring is done to detect compliance and deviations. In the case of improvement opportunities, monitoring is done to track the improvements achieved or to detect more opportunities for improvement even where there are no deviating instances.

Use of Correct Metrics

As the common saying goes: Be Real! Dazzling but unrealistic data and information may fool some people but not everyone every time. Besides, such data and information often end up deceiving the very people presenting them. 

Do you sometimes catch yourself looking at the wrong assessment picture?  For example: The correct metrics for assessing a company’s actual success in ensuring the safety of its products and the satisfaction of consumers have very little to do with audit scores. No one will take a food business seriously if it points to its third party audit scores as proof that its products are safe. Sadly, some do. 

Dazzling third party audit scores do not mean that the products from a food business with such scores are guaranteed to be safe any more than the products from a business without such scores are guaranteed to be unsafe. The actual safety of products is determined through other means of assessment. The feelings of customers are also not the right metrics for assessing the actual safety of products. The best metrics are the actual experiences of the consumers.

The SSQA Manual contains information with specific examples of what to monitor and track when determining the level of success in various aspects of your operation. For example: What to check when determining the level of success in your food safety and quality management programs, operation efficiency, operation returns on investments, optimum investments, employee knowledge skills and commitment, customer and consumer satisfaction, effectiveness and sustainability of continuous improvement projects, etc.

Before it presents the guidelines of the realistic data and information to check when determining the levels of success, the SSQA Manual first provides guidelines for achieving success in the first place. This represents a quantum leap from what is offered by various food safety and quality assessment schemes.

 You are invited to view the SSQA Introduction video.

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

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