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Thursday, 29 September 2016

Disclosures about Audit Scheme Effectiveness

Think back to the discussion under the heading “Common Failure” in this 2014 post "Standardized Food Industry Mistake". It appears that SQFI has started to collect and publish the kinds of helpful data that I envisaged. What do the SQFI data show? On the IFSQN website, I stumbled upon this presentation by LeAnn Chuboff, Senior Technical Director,SQFI

Never mind the slides with survey reports. They merely show evidence of embellished opinions of survey respondents. Take a look at slides 8 and 9. Although the data sources (e.g. countries or regions involved) have not been clearly explained, the information on these slides appear to be less biased. Aside from the anticipated twists and/or rationalizations to follow these sorts of data by the presenters, the information presented gives a picture to guide decision-making about the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of the scheme. Looking at the drop in the total number of recalls may be encouraging but percentage data (a more accurate picture) quickly dulls the enthusiasm.

Understandably, we need similar data from other competing schemes to compare. So the challenge stands: All schemes should publish their relevant and unembellished data. I wonder how many schemes are going to take up this challenge.

For ideas about other parameters to use in assessing the effectiveness of the schemes, read this other 2014 post Common Assumptions about Food Safety and Quality Management. It is great to see that these posts are remaining relevant in the Myth Discourse that started more than 3 years ago.
Posted by Felix Amiri
Felix Amiri is currently the chair of GCSE-Food & Health Protection, and a sworn SSQA advocate.

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Institute of Food Processing Technology Industry Event - May 2017:

Food Industry Tools of the Trade Presentations

Jointly Sponsored By:
GCSE-Food & Health Protection
Conestoga College 

Date: May 10, 2017
Time: 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Venue: Conestoga College
850 Fountain St S, Cambridge, ON N3H 0A8
Driving Directions

Registration Update
All set for May 10th! General registration has now closed. 

Organizations/companies represented by registered participants include:
3M Food Safety
Jusufagic (Manufacturing/R&D/PD)
Keybrand Foods
AKM FoodTech Consulting
Malabar Super Spice Co. Ltd.
ALMAAS Food Safety Plus
Maple Lodge Farms
Cargill Limited
MMIS Mondo 
Carlisle Technology
Nestle Nutrition
Conestoga College
CPG Executive Search
Degroot Design
Pfenning's Organic Farm
Dicentra inc
PH Food
DIGI Cold Chain
Real Food for Real Kids
Erie Meat
Sanitation Pros Inc.
Excellent Manufacturing Consortium (EMC)
Seneca College
Florentina Foods Ltd.
Siemens Canada Limited
Food and Beverage Ontario
SJB Food Safety & Quality Assurance Consulting
FoodGrads Recruitment
Solution Technologies
Giraffe Food Inc
Toastmasters-Mount Forest Motivators
Give and Go Prepared Foods Ltd.
TRG Retail
Griffith Foods
University of Toronto
Guelph Food Innovation Center-University of Guelph
University of Waterloo
Gum Products International Inc.
VG Meats

3-Part Purpose of the Event
(1) To introduce available tools, instruments and software systems that are helpful in the management of food safety and quality. Through this event, we wish to make students and invited industry participants aware of tools that are available to them. Participants will learn about why, where, when and how to use the tools presented as well as where or how to obtain them.
(2) To shed some light on what is happening in the food industry through the “State of the Industry Lectures”. This is in recognition of the need to inspire a determination among the students entering the workforce to maintain what is already good as well as to pursue improvements where necessary. The industry needs future leaders; not mere followers.
(3) To provide a networking opportunity for all attendees, particularly the students looking for employment, and industry participants looking for employees. This networking segment also gives industry participants the opportunity to learn about the types of short-term courses offered at the college that their current staff may need.
This event is deliberately planned to, within a relatively short space of time, provide a forum for making meaningful connections between students and the industry that go beyond what typically occurs in a conventional job-fair.

Arrival 3:30 4:00 pm


Welcome & Opening Remarks 4:00 - 4:20 pm
Luis Garcia: Chair of the Institute of Food Processing Technology at Conestoga College
Luis holds a Master of Science degree in Food Science from the University of Guelph and brings international experience as a food scientist and former manager of a major international processing operation. He has taught graduate courses at University, trained hundreds of adult employees in the food industry, and co-led the development of a workshop for managers and owners on how to create a food safety culture.
Luis will welcome everyone and provide a summary of the training and educational opportunities at Conestoga College for the food industry.

Felix Amiri:  State of Food Safety and Quality Management 4:20- 4:50 pm
Felix is the current food sector chair of the Global Coalition for Sustained Excellence in Food & Health Protection (GCSE-FHP). He also teaches International Food Safety Law and Regulations at Conestoga College. Felix is very familiar with food safety and quality management systems. He serves as the Technical Director at Amiri Food Industry Support Services (AFISS) and he is a key contributor to the development and implementation of the Safety, Security and Quality Assurance (SSQA) concept.

Felix will deliver the state of the industry lecture on Food Safety and Quality Management with a look at current challenges, successes, industry self-monitoring arrangements and regulatory oversight.

Short Break: 4:50 - 5:00 pm
Tools of the Trade Presentations

Nathalie St. Amour: 3M Food Safety  5:00 - 5:20 pm

Nathalie St-Amour supports customers in Ontario as 3M Food Safety field representative, focusing on the Greater Toronto Area and Southern Ontario. With a B.Sc in Engineering, Nathalie has been with 3M Food Safety for over 15 years and has extensive technical experience in troubleshooting, training and supporting the food industry with 3M’s product portfolio.

Certain routine activities are inescapable no matter how small the operation. For example, every food establishment must conduct sanitation activities and verify the effectiveness. Nathalie will present an overview of tools for a number of routine operations in a food establishment. These include; sanitation verification tools, microbiological testing options, process control (e.g. UHT) test kits, etc.

Wayne Slater:  SYSPRO Canada - Food Traceability Software 5:20 - 5:40 pm

Wayne is the co-author of Food Traceability for Dummies. He has been helping organizations solve their businesses challenges through the application of technology solutions and business process analysis for more than 20 years. As the VP of Channel Sales at SYSPRO Canada (an ERP company) and prior Director of Sales and Marketing for Carlisle Technology, Wayne is dedicated to helping food companies to meet their supply-chain and regulatory requirements, streamline productivity, and improve profitability.

With an ever-increasing need to maintain effective traceability of all input materials for food operations, manual approaches are growing increasingly tedious and inconsistent. Tools that simplify consistent traceability are in much need. Wayne will be presenting how electronic software systems provide not only traceability, but can also be used to improve your company brand and increase profits.

Felix Amiri: AfisTrack - Supplier Risk Assessment (Database) Aid  5:40 - 6:00 pm

Irrespective of the size, every food operation has a supply chain that must be effectively managed. Evolving regulations and external audit requirements now stipulate supplier risk assessment and management as key food business considerations.  With or without regulatory and external audit requirements, a good supply chain management differentiates food businesses that thrive well from those that do not. While the challenge may be lesser for very small operations, the task of supplier risk assessment and management can be frustrating especially with the ever-expanding supply network. Some aid is needed. Felix will be presenting the AfissTrack - SSQA Supply Partner Risk Assessment database that is designed as a supplier risk assessment task simplification aid. 

Networking Break: 6:00 - 6:20 pm

Alice Michaud: Trends in Available Jobs / Prospective Job Opportunities 6:20 - 6:40 pm
Alice Michaud is Manager, Career Hub at Conestoga College.
Closing & Tour of IFPT Pilot Plant : 6:40 - 7:00 pm
       (Optional and depending on interest and time available)

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Wrong Exit

Exiting is a wise move but. . . 

Lately, there appears to be a resurgence of each major customer with its unique supplier audit. I have learned that such audits exist for Yum! Brands, Nestle, Subway, McCormick, Costco (Addendums), Woolworths Quality Assurance (WQA) and others. These multinationals control a considerable market share in the manufacturing, food service and retail sectors.
While ignoring or even exiting the redundant certification craze is wise for food businesses, granting token recognition and returning to “everyone his or her own way” is a crazier alternative to what is being avoided. Going back to customer-specific audits is not the way to exit the centralized certification vogue that grew out of the frustration of suppliers having to deal with so many separate customer audits.
Token Option of 3rd Party Certification:
Although these major customers say suppliers selling to them may choose to be certified against “recognized schemes”, they appear unwilling to simply accept the scheme certifications in lieu of their unique supplier audits. The question is why and the answer is obvious: Centralized certification schemes are too generic to cover the unique requirements of the customers. Secondly, the over-commercialization and competition among the schemes has diluted the effectiveness and has led to questions about the reliability of the third-party certification process. It should therefore not be a surprise that we are seeing the tactical exit of major customers who seek a different basis for having confidence in their supply chain.
Essentially and sadly, the current setup is oppressive to both small and large food businesses. These businesses, as suppliers, must be certified to at least one generic scheme and must also go through unique supplier audits for customers A, B, C, etc. Depending on the number of customers, the burden can be enormous. In other words, for some operations, the centralized certification initiative has worsened the problem that led to it in the first place. Scheme certification audits are now required in addition to customer audits, instead of eliminating them.
There is a better way that:
  • Accommodates all customers
  • Drives collaboration between suppliers and customers
  • Engages all parties (suppliers, customers, third parties, regulators, consumers, etc.)
  • Encourages adaptive instead of formulaic approaches
  • Eliminates the use stagnant and generic audit checklists or requirements with numerous irrelevant and redundant clauses
  • Involves only one audit arrangement that is acceptable to all collaborating Suppliers
It is the way that is preferred by Fearless Guardians of food safety and quality.True guardians of food safety prefer Fortification instead of Certification
Posted by Felix Amiri
Felix Amiri is currently the chair of GCSE-Food & Health Protection, and a sworn SSQA advocate.

Friday, 16 September 2016

FSMA: Baffling (Barf-fling?) Exemptions for a New Era Regulatory Initiative (Restaurants & Retail)

According to FDA:
"Facilities That Do Not Have to Register"
If your facility is involved in one of the following activities, it does NOT have to register with FDA.
These Facilities DON’T Have to Register
  • Private residences of individuals, even though food may be manufactured/processed, packed, or held in them.
  • Non-bottled water drinking water collection and distribution establishments and structures, such as municipal water systems.
  • Transport vehicles that hold food only in the usual course of their business as carriers.
  • Farms — i.e., facilities in one general location devoted to growing and harvesting crops (washing, trimming outer leaves, and cooling produce are part of harvesting) and/or raising animals (including seafood). The term “farm” includes facilities that pack or hold food, provided that all food used in those activities is grown, raised, or consumed on that farm or another farm under the same ownership, as well as facilities that manufacture/process food, provided that all food used in such activities is consumed on that farm or another farm under the same ownership.
  • Restaurants — i.e., facilities that prepare and sell food directly to consumers for immediate consumption, including pet shelters, kennels, and veterinary facilities that provide food directly to animals. Facilities that provide food to interstate conveyances, such as commercial aircraft, or central kitchens that do not prepare and serve food directly to consumers, are not restaurants for purposes of 21 CFR Part 1, Subpart H.
  • Retail food establishments, such as grocery stores, delis, roadside stands that sell food directly to consumers as their primary function, meaning that annual food sales directly to consumers are of greater dollar value than annual sales to other buyers.
  • Nonprofit food facilities,which are charitable entities that meet the terms of § 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code and that prepare or serve food directly to the consumer or otherwise provide food or meals for consumption by humans or animals in the U.S. This includes central food banks, soup kitchens, and nonprofit food delivery services.
  • Fishing vessels that do not process fishSuch fishing vessels may engage in practices other than processing such as harvesting and transporting fish, and heading, eviscerating, or freezing fish solely to prepare the fish for holding on board the vessel.
  • Facilities regulated exclusively and throughout the entire facility by the U.S. Department of Agriculturethat is, facilities handling only meat, poultry, or egg products."
 Information Source:
Posted by Felix Amiri
Felix Amiri is currently the chair of GCSE-Food & Health Protection, and a sworn SSQA advocate.

Saturday, 3 September 2016

Coalition Membership Certificates

Suspension of Membership Certificate Issuance 
We regret to announce that, due to increased administrative costs, limited funds and an observed lack of interest in certificate renewals, the Coalition has decided to suspend the issuance of membership certificates. At the same time, we are glad to state that this decision has been reached because of the fast growing membership.

Membership remains ll members will continue to be listed on the Coalition’s website as proof of membership. As always, please let us know if you have any questions, suggestions, comments, etc.