EDGARTOWN, MA, June 27, 2019 – Innovative Publishing Co., publisher of Food Safety Tech and organizer of the Food Safety Consortium Conference & Expo is pleased to announce a partnership with FSSC 22000 to hold the organization’s Focus Event 2019 at this year’s Food Safety Consortium in Schaumburg, IL.
Taking place on October 1 as a pre-conference workshop, the FSSC 22000 Focus Event will provide a firsthand update of the FSSC 22000 program worldwide and review the new Version 5, which includes the revised ISO 22000:2018. Experts will give attendees an overview of the benefits of the ISO approach and its alignment with FSMA, as well as the role of FSSC 22000 new scopes, including Transport and Storage, with a practical example of the benefits of certification in this new sector. There will also be discussion of the application of the FSSC Global Markets Program to smaller and medium-sized organizations.
“I am excited to welcome stakeholders from the GFSI-recognized food safety management system FSSC 22000 to the Food Safety Consortium as key participants in educating an important part of this industry,” said Rick Biros, president of Innovative Publishing Co., Inc. and director of the Food Safety Consortium Conference and Expo.
Speakers include Cornelie Glerum, Managing Director, FSSC 22000; Cor Groenveld, Market Development Director, FSSC 22000; Jacqueline Southee, North America Representative, FSSC 22000; and Jim Blackmon, President of Carry Transit (invited).
Professionals within the following roles/segments should attend this event: Food and beverage companies; FSSC 22000 certified companies and companies interested in becoming FSSC 22000 certified; certification bodies and contractor auditors; accreditation bodies; and training organizations.
The FSSC 22000 Focus Event is available and included in the Food Safety Consortium Conference registration fee.
Delegates registering for the FSSC 22000 Focus Event 2019 only will also receive complimentary admission to the plenary session of the Food Safety Consortium, presented by Frank Yiannas, deputy commissioner, food policy and response at FDA, and are invited to attend the evening reception in the exhibition hall.
About Food Safety Tech
Food Safety Tech publishes news, technology, trends, regulations, and expert opinions on food safety, food quality, food business and food sustainability. We also offer educational, career advancement and networking opportunities to the global food industry. This information exchange is facilitated through ePublishing, digital and live events.
About the Food Safety Consortium Conference and Expo
The Food Safety Consortium Conference and Expo is a premier educational and networking event for food safety solutions. Attracting the most influential minds in food safety, the Consortium enables attendees to engage conversations that are critical for advancing careers and organizations alike. Visit with exhibitors to learn about cutting edge solutions, explore diverse educational tracks for learning valuable industry trends, and network with industry executives to find solutions to improve quality, efficiency and cost effectiveness in an ever-changing, global food safety market. This year’s event takes place October 1–3 in Schaumburg, IL.
About FSSC 22000
FSSC 22000 (Food Safety System Certification 22000) offers a complete certification program for the auditing and certification of Food Safety Management Systems (FSMS) and Food Safety and Quality Management Systems (FSSC 22000-Quality). Based on the internationally accepted ISO 22000 family of standards and benchmarked by the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI), FSSC 22000 sets out the requirements for companies throughout the supply chain for meeting the highest food safety standards. FSSC 22000 is recognized and relied upon by some of the world’s largest food manufacturers, is widely accepted by Accreditation Bodies worldwide and supported by important stakeholders like FoodDrinkEurope (FDE) and the American Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA).
Before we can consider where to find the next generation of food safety professionals, we must consider what is a food safety professional. For many people, this question will be answered by describing a set of knowledge and expertise. One might first consider an understanding of the physical, chemical and biological hazards that are associated with food, including the various pathogens responsible for human illness. Additionally, the knowledge could include an understanding of HACCP and risk management strategies for addressing these hazards, including the various processing techniques that can be applied to food. Building further, perhaps we would add knowing chapter and verse in Title 21 of Code of Federal Regulations (21 CFR). Perhaps expertise is expected regarding the required documentation for FSMA and the associated regulations and guidance documents. If you are reading this article, you probably have other skills that you would add to this list. For example, IFT has been promoting its Certified Food Scientist (CFS) credential to recognize the possession of a significant amount of this knowledge and expertise, including expertise in food safety. This lays a good foundation but would be expected to some degree in any food scientist, and it is not the entire criteria.
One must consider what more is needed to make a food scientist into a food safety professional? I am sure there are some people who will insist that we need professionals who understand all the rules and regulations to ensure compliance and thereby ensure food safety. However, when examined closely, we find that many of these skills relate more to regulatory compliance. The regulations have been promulgated to promote safety and fair trade. The link between regulatory compliance and food safety is strong and may be enough to justify adding this attribute to our growing description of the food safety professionals we seek, but regulatory compliance is considered a separate if somewhat overlapping area of expertise in the CFS credential.
Building further, perhaps adding a performance-based attribute will provide the necessary distinction of what makes a true food safety professional. Perhaps a food safety professional is a food scientist that identifies hazards (and potential hazards) and seeks to prevent them from impacting human health. With a little consideration, though, one realizes that anyone working in the food industry must learn to identify hazards and potential hazards. Everyone must seek to prevent hazards from impacting human health. The line worker must make decisions daily based on the training they have received to ensure they do not contaminate the product stream. The maintenance worker needs to be sure that they do not unintentionally add lubricant to a product stream. The CEO needs to create a culture where one of the first questions considered for any change is the impact it will have on food safety. After this reminder that everyone working in the food industry must be safety minded, we can return to the question of what is a food safety professional.
With the above preamble, let me opine that a food safety professional is a food scientist who materially impacts the safety of a portion of the food supply. This person may or may not have an actual degree in food science but will have acquired the knowledge necessary to materially contribute to food safety efforts. With this description, I suggest that the next generation of food safety professionals will set the standards for safety in the coming decades. They must have both knowledge of what has gone before and be able to identify new hazards and potential hazards. As a form of succession planning, it is prudent to consider where we will find the next generation of food safety professionals.
As a greying food scientist or more specifically, a food chemist from the tail end of the baby boomers, I have considered what has led me to more than dabble in food safety. As with most technical players in the food industry, I have accumulated knowledge and expertise across many fields including chemistry, microbiology and food science on the way to achieving a CFS certification. This knowledge is the gears and cogs that drive the engines of critical thinking, problem analysis and preventative problem analysis. These engines allow me to be effective as a food safety professional. I am involved in food safety because food safety is everyone’s job in the food industry. I am involved in food safety because food safety problems were presented to me or because I have identified food safety problems. Most importantly, I have worked to find solutions to these problems and potential problems.
This experience leads me to conclude that food safety professionals are developed and nurtured as opposed to being found. For almost any position, everyone seeks to hire that 35-year-old with five to 10 years of experience, depending on education. Unfortunately, this means that few are willing to invest in those early years of nurturing right after a person graduates. The pool of candidates is limited because studying food science is not viewed as having the same cache as going into law or medicine. The returns for going into finance can be extraordinary. Worse still is that a typical food science student aspires to product development or perhaps research and development as opposed to going into operations or quality assurance. These students do not necessarily expect to change the world with new products or ideas, but they are not aware of the breadth of opportunities in the food industry. It is a reality that very few food science students aspire to work in quality assurance or quality control—areas that are more likely to lead to food safety careers. In any event, all food science students will need to get some seasoning to become the next generation of food safety professionals, regardless of the career path they take.
Assuming that an institution or company wants to add to the pool or potential pool of food safety professionals, there a number of options and opportunities. These are not as simple or as immediately goal oriented as making those perfect hires, but the institution will get some benefits now and will be casting bread upon the waters that has the potential for long-term benefits.
Inspiring students to explore food science is the first step. Encourage food scientists in your organization and community to mentor, to be judges at science fairs, to visit and participate in career fairs, and just be visible in their communities. I have given guest lectures in a variety of forums on such topics as fraudulent labels and food adulteration. I was lucky to have an uncle who introduced me to two professors in food science during my junior year of high school. I never looked back. Not all of the students we touch will be inspired to select food science, but they will be aware of the opportunities. These efforts should increase the potential pool.
Offer internships to students early in their education. By the time a student is a junior or senior in college, his or her educational path is largely set. The costs for a change in major can become prohibitive. If you reach out to students in their first or second year and expose them to opportunities to make the food supply safer and to better feeding the world, they have the option of choosing food science and maybe eventually becoming those needed food safety professionals. The research program I run for SmartWash Solutions provides opportunities for up to 12 students to assist with the design and execution of cutting-edge research in food safety for the fresh cut produce industry. With a little training, these students can learn to operate pilot plant equipment and learn to analyze samples. These young, enthusiastic students enjoy the opportunity to work in this team environment. The internships are vastly superior to jobs working in fast food restaurants in terms of educational value. These students allow me to accomplish much more than I can alone. Interns can become great regular employees, although it may not occur immediately due to their needs to finish their educations.
Mentoring all those who are coming along behind you is another way to increase the pool and to find the next generation of food safety professionals. Take the time to explain why you have asked for things and explain the importance of tasks. Expose people to the critical thinking and problem solving process of enhancing food safety. Let them see how food safety makes a difference.
There is little doubt that food safety professionals are needed today and will be needed tomorrow. Turnover is as inevitable as death, and we are going to need new champions of food safety. Some might argue that the need is greater today than ever before. Others would argue that detection and reporting have just made the problems appear bigger with the advent of the powerful molecular biology tools being applied today. In either case, there have certainly been some recent outbreaks that have made headlines including those involving romaine lettuce. Additionally, FSMA is focusing more attention on food safety and mandating that people with specific skills perform various required tasks. Clearly, the need for food safety professionals is ongoing.
The TWI: 2018 Training Management System Standard addresses various aspects of an organization’s Management System and identifies, explains and standardizes some of the best-known practices for ensuring that supervisor-to-operator relationships are strong and true. It also confirms that all training is performed in the most cost efficient, effective and safe manner possible. The standard provides guidance and tools for companies and organizations that want to ensure their products and services consistently meet customer’s requirements, while the quality remains top-notch.
TWI: 2018 sets out the criteria for an organization to integrate TWI practices into their management system and, when implemented properly, is the standard that can be certified (this is not a requirement). It can be used by any organization, large or small, regardless of its field of activity. It is equally as effective in service companies, as manufacturing or healthcare.
Read Part I: How training within industry empowers employees & facilitates continuous improvementThis standard is based on several quality management principles including a strong customer focus, motivation and implication of top management and process approach and continual improvement. Using TWI: 2018 helps ensure that customers consistently get good quality products and services, which in turn, brings many business benefits, and significant return on investment.
The adoption of TWI and the associated training modules into an organization’s management system must be a conscience decision and embraced as a business management strategy by the senior management team. TWI helps the organization see meaningful overall performance improvements and ensures the sustainability of the initiative.
Traditionally, the potential benefits of implementing TWI into their management system based on this international standard, are measured using the following Key Performance Indicators, (KPI):
Reduced Training time
The TWI: 2018 Training Management System International Standard can be used by internal and external parties. The standard’s requirements are intended to be complimentary to the organization’s current management system for product and service realization.
This standard employs the process approach, which incorporates the Plan-Do-Check-Act, (PDCA) cycle, as well as, risk-based thinking. This Process Approach enables an organization to plan its processes and their interactions.
The PDCA cycle enables an organization to ensure that its processes are adequately resourced and managed, and that the opportunities for improvement are determined and acted upon.
Risk-based thinking enables an organization to determine the factors that could cause its processes and management system to deviate from the planned results. It also allows a company to put preventive controls in place to minimize negative effects and to make maximize opportunities as they arise.
As it all comes down to working with and through people, it is imperative that the development of an organization’s personnel is adequately addressed. This includes, but is not limited to:
Identifying and hiring the right people
Appropriate and effective on-boarding of new employees
New, as well as, refresher training
Adequate Succession Planning
Supervisor skills and knowledge training
Effective problem solving
On-going and effective safety training for a safe workplace
TWI training modules utilize a 4-Step Process to make the training consistent, standardized and easy to understand and comprehend. This process is time proven and meant to be rather rigid by design. The method looks much easier than it is to do, and requires, like any other skill, practice to perfect it. This standard DOES NOT include the actual methodology, but rather, documents the required elements of implementing TWI into business systems to ensure the integration of TWI into the organization’s culture and to achieve the highest return on investment. Appropriate TWI methods are identified throughout this standard.
TWI Training Management System Principles
This international standard is based on the quality management system principles described in the ISO 9001:2015 International System. It= is not intended to replace or supersede the ISO standard, but rather, to integrate with your current management system standard or GFSI-approved CPO. The focus is on enhancement by addressing the essential supervisor skills needed to “manage” the people aspect of doing business. By patterning it after the format of ISO, it is the intention of the TWI-Institute to make the TWI principles and training easier to integrate into an organization’s current management system.
The descriptions include a statement of each principle, a rationale of why the principle is important for the organization, some examples of benefits associated with the principles, and examples of typical actions to improve the organization’s performance when applying the principles.
The TWI Principles are based on The Five Needs Model for Good Supervisors:
Knowledge of the work
This refers to the kind of information that makes one business different from another (i.e.,materials, products, services, processes, equipment, operations, people, etc.)
Knowledge of Responsibilities
This refers to the organization’s situation regarding policies, regulations, rules, agreements, schedules, organizational structure, etc.
Skill in Instructing
This will assist supervisors in developing a well-trained workforce.
Skill in Improving Methods
This deals with utilizing materials, machines and manpower more effectively by having supervisors study each operation in order to eliminate, combine, rearrange, and simplify details of the job.
Skill in Leading
This helps the supervisor to improve his or her ability to work with people.
NOTE: Throughout this international standard, “Supervisor” is defined as anyone in charge of, or who directs the work of others. Therefore, “Supervisors can be identified by many titles: Supervisor, Manager, Foreman, Lead, Cell Leader, Director, VP, President, etc. “
The Process Approach
The TWI: 2018 – Training Management System International Standard promotes the adoption of a process approach when developing, implementing and improving the effectiveness of the management system and the supervision of people, to enhance customer satisfaction by meeting customer requirements and expectations.
Understanding and managing interrelated processes as a system contributes to the organization’s effectiveness and efficiency in achieving its intended results. This approach enables the organization to control the interrelationships and interdependencies among the processes of the system, so that the overall performance of the organization can be enhanced. Maintaining good employee relations, providing effective and efficient training, and making the daily habit of reviewing processes in order to continually improve them, must be integral to the organization’s culture and a primary strategic initiative.
The process approach involves the systematic definition and management of processes, and their interactions, to achieve the intended results in accordance with the organization’s policy statement and strategic direction. Management of the processes and the complete system can be achieved using the PDCA cycle (See Figure 1), with an overall focus on risk-based thinking aimed at taking advantage of opportunities and preventing undesirable results.
The application of the process approach in a training management system enables:
An understanding and consistency in meeting requirements of necessary training
The consideration of the processes of training, in terms of added value
The achievement of an effective training process performance
Improvement of training processes based on evaluation of data and information, (i.e., KPI’s).
The PDCA cycle can be summarized as follows:
PLAN: Establish the objectives of the system and its processes, and the resources needed to deliver results in accordance with customers’ requirements, (in this case, the employees of the organization), and the organization’s policies, and identify and address risks and opportunities.
DO: Implement what was planned.
CHECK: Monitor and (where applicable) measure processes and the resulting products and services against policies, objectives, requirements and planned activities, and report the results.
ACT. Act to improve performance, as necessary to correct deviations, or to continually improve the processes. (Note: See Appendix A for an example of an implementation plan using a PDCA cycle.)
Risk-based thinking is essential for achieving an effective management system and the proper training and development of the people. By using Risk-based thinking, management can carry out preventive actions to eliminate the potential negative effects of an unforseen occurrence (i.e., untrained personnel trying to complete a task, action or process step).
To conform with TWI: 2018, an organization needs to plan, implement and measure actions in order to address risks and opportunities associated with the training and development of the people. Addressing both risks and opportunities establishes a basis for increasing the effectiveness of the management system, including training and developing people, achieving improved results and preventing negative effects.
Relationship with Other Management System Standards
The TWI: 2018 – Training Management System International Standard is intended to allow seamless integration into an organization’s existing management system. To meet that end, this international standard was patterned after the ISO 9001:2015 International Standard since it is universally accepted, as setting the bar for management systems. Note: While the international standard is patterned after the ISO 9001:2015 International Standard, it is not dependant on compliance to that, or any other, management system format.
TWI: 2018 may, however, be implelented as a stand-alone training management system and does not include requirements specific to other management systems, such as those for environment, food safety, financial, or occupational health and safety management.
Virtually every process or problem has a human element as part of the equation. Unfortunately, we continually find that some organizations fail to connect the logic of TWI and its underlying principles to the actual daily realities of running the operation. If you don’t continually manage and practice the process, then it won’t sustain itself in the long run. The key to sustaining programs is to get off on the right foot with a solid plan. If you create a plan emphasizing the activities discussed above, along with problem solving and strong daily operational management, we know you’ll have greater success and increase your odds of sustaining an effective and efficient training program that will yield a significant ROI.
Related to training requirements, GFSI approved CPOs and the ISO standards place a strong emphasis on the evaluation of qualifications, competency, and the effectiveness of training. It is critical to make sure that today’s associates are aware of the importance of their actions and how they contribute to the overall achievement of measurable food safety, quality and system objectives. Records that document training results, both positive and negative, must be maintained. Although follow-up and documentation take time, the overall positive impact on the business and success of the organization is well worth the extra effort.
It is important that each associate understands the role that he or she plays in his or her company’s success. Individual roles are established by upper management and communicated to the staff. It requires the cooperation and communication of all operational levels to result in an effective and value-added management system. If the necessary lines of communication are developed and a proper work environment is established, then the results should be the production of a safe product with product conformity and all the records to prove it.
Necessary provisions of a successful management system include: Applicable job assignments for personnel and identifying all training needs while providing the appropriate training. It is critical that management apply the proactive approach to training, rather than being reactive after something goes wrong. Without a structured, proactive, effective program established to communicate and educate employees, the organization will be putting its products at risk. Products will be at a food safety risk, as well as, pose a risk to basic business success.
When defining the necessary competencies, management must consider how each position affects the processes and the system overall. Written, well-defined job requirements are necessary to identify competencies and qualifications. Job requirements should at least define the following aspects:
Criteria for each area of responsibility as it affects the management system and the needs of the organization
Criteria based on related documentation (procedures and work instructions)
New hire orientation training
Requirements for the compliant management system
Specific training needs
Records necessary to demonstrate conformance with training and education requirements
Competency of associates to be evaluated, recorded, effective, and defined in a manner that is appropriate for the organization.
The training, competence and awareness program must focus on educating the associates. “Education” is a critical term that communicates sharing the knowledge and explains reasons why an activity must be done in the manner presented. Training is communicating the required actions and showing how these actions are important.
“Education” is the act or process of imparting or acquiring general knowledge, developing the powers of reasoning and judgment; the act or process of imparting or acquiring specific knowledge or skills.
“Training” is to develop or form the habits, thoughts, or behavior of by discipline and instruction and to make proficient by instruction and practice, as in some art, profession, or work.
A favorite example when comparing these two terms is how Pavlov’s dog was trained to respond to the ringing bell for food, but education is understanding that it is necessary to perform an action in a specific manner.
The training program must be developed and presented in a manner that effectively educates associates. Each associate, at a minimum, should have an overview of the compliance requirements of the management system and how he or she impacts the goals of the organization.
Training Within Industry – Did You Know?
Training Within Industry’s (TWI) rich history originated in the United States in the 1940s where the program was an unqualified success, boosting industrial production of war material beyond expectations. Training Within Industry (TWI) leverages the role of supervisors and team leaders to do the following:
Increase productivity & quality
Reduce training time
TWI is an essential element of lean and lean six sigma programs, as it provides frontline personnel with the skills and organizational framework for standard work along with continuous improvement.
The 5 TWI Program Modules:
Job Instruction (JI): Quickly training employees to do a job correctly, safely, and efficiently
The demands of developing a flexible workforce and training employees are best accomplished with standardized best practices. Job Instruction teaches how to effectively break down a job and deliver the necessary instructions for individual tasks. By developing and delivering training in this structured fashion, the process becomes more consistent and efficient throughout the company. JI results in reduced training time, less scrap and rework, fewer accidents and increased job satisfaction.
Job Relations (JR): Building positive employee relations, increasing cooperation and motivation, and effectively resolving conflict
Job Relations teaches the foundations of positive employee relations, preventing potential problems and earning loyalty and cooperation. It utilizes a proven method of resolving problems, therefore, resulting in increased productivity, improved attendance, better morale, and higher employee retention rates.
Job Methods (JM): Improving the way jobs are done for continual improvement
Job Methods focuses on producing greater quantities of quality products, in less time, by making the best use of the people, machines and materials currently available. Jobs are broken down into their constituent operations. Every detail should be questioned in a systematic manner to generate ideas for improvement. JM yields significant benefits including reduced cost through productivity gains, increased throughput, and reduced work in process.
Job Safety (JS): Creating a safe workplace
Job Safety provides the framework through which supervisors can engage employees in identifying potential hazards and eliminating them based on their training and knowledge in OSHA and EPA regulations. This provides supervisors a viable method to use when analyzing the events leading to accidents and hazardous situations. JS stresses that the relationship of the supervisor to the employees plays a pivotal role in a safe and environmentally responsible workplace.
Problem Solving (PS): Providing supervisors and other leaders with higher-level problem-solving skills
Problem Solving is the next step for an organization wanting to advance to the next level, after implementing one or more “J” classes. This final process seamlessly incorporates the other four steps. Results include proper identification of problem points, effective solutions, and continuous improvement.
The Central New York Technology Development Organization (TDO), a member of the U.S. Manufacturers Extension Partnership (MEP), successfully reincarnated the original TWI programs in 2001. They subsequently formed the TWI Institute to oversee the global deployment of the program.
The TWI Institute is the center for education, trainer certification and connections in the TWI community of practitioners and trainers. It is a large, rapidly expanding network of certified trainers delivering the TWI Program in the United States and across the globe. The TWI Institute, USA Southern Region, was recently established to serve the southern region of the United States. This region is currently busy introducing the new TWI: 2018-Training Management System International Standard. This standard focuses on training as an integral part of any quality management system. It ultimately defines what all companies need to ensure that their training programs will be effective.
TWI has seen a lot of success throughout its 70+ years, both nationally and internationally, but there has been one common complaint over the years: It is difficult to sustain the training over the long haul.
This can be said for most initiatives undertaken in the lean manufacturing world of continuous improvement elements, whether it is SS, SUR, TPM or any of the other acronyms for the many tools in the lean toolbox. Regardless of the initiative, training must be done to bring everyone up to speed. The success of the training will determine the effectiveness and value of the initiative.
In part two of this series, we will examine the newly released TWI:2018 Training Management System International Standard. We will examine the outcomes to determine how this standard will provide a company with safe, efficient and effective training standards that will provide a lasting benefit.
I oversee an executive search firm that specializes in placing food scientists in the food industries. In many of our searches, we are asked specifically for individuals who have food science degrees versus other scientific degrees. When we asked the universities how many students were graduating in the 33 universities approved by IFT, we received a variety of answers. So, in 2006 we started our Food Science Student Survey, asking the chairs of each of the departments to provide the answers to three questions: How many students are in the program, how many are seniors, and how many are pursuing a graduate degree. The survey has been completed every other year since 2006.
The good news is that the numbers have doubled. In 2006, there were only 462 seniors in 33 U.S. universities in food science programs. In 2018, there were 931. The departments vary in size, from UC Davis being the largest program with 249 undergraduate students in their program, to the smallest, Tuskegee University with only 15. The total number of undergraduates in 2018 exceeded 3400. This is good news for the food industry, as there has been a shortage of food scientists for many years, especially due to the baby boomers retiring. With stronger food safety regulations, and a constant need to innovate, the food industry needs more qualified food scientists. We appreciate the efforts of the universities to expand their programs.
Success Factor 2: Develop rigorous, reliable and relatable exam questions (items) that are developed, tested and continuously evaluated to correlate with market needs and trends.
My previous column in Food Safety Tech outlined the single most important factor in ensuring that all employees have the proven ability to keep the public safe from foodborne illness: Education. Only rigorous, continually evaluated exams, designed for a company’s particular industry segment, can give employers the assurance that employees have the skills they need to make food safe.
Constructing and administering those exams starts with partnering with the right food safety assessment provider. Once that provider has been chosen, the next step is to develop questions—and ultimately an exam that exemplifies the three R’s: Rigorous, reliable and relatable.
Rigorousness begins with the process by which questions are created. This process must be a step-by-step effort to ensure that the final exam asks the right questions, based on the industry segment and the skills needed to be measured, and that the questions meet or exceed current industry standards. The ultimate aim is to give employees the opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge, which results in a sense of empowerment that makes them effective stewards of food safety every day.
To meet these goals, a company must work closely with its food safety assessment provider throughout the test development process, which begins with an analysis of the job (or jobs) for which the exam is being created (i.e., what are employees’ important tasks for which performance must be measured?). This analysis informs the development of precise specifications for the exam, and with those specifications established, the food safety assessment provider can begin collaborations with subject matter experts to formulate questions for the exam. Every question on the exam should dovetail with needs and trends in the marketplace, with emphasis on the client’s position in the marketplace.
The next step in the process—item review (question validation) —is key to making sure the exam is comprehensive. In effect, this is a ‘test of the test’ and should address the following:
Does the exam ask all the right questions?
Are the questions free of ambiguity that could lead to an inaccurate measurement of knowledge?
Are the questions in line with current industry standards?
Once every question has been subjected to validation, a passing score for the exam is set concurrent with best practice guidelines for making scoring decisions. Next the food safety assessment provider and the client collaborate on the best way to administer the examination (e.g., whether on paper or online, taken at work or home).
Only then is the test ready to be given, scored and analyzed.
It might seem, at this point, that the exam-creation cycle has been completed. On the contrary, the cycle must be a continuous process, with results from the initial test administration serving as a baseline for ongoing test maintenance and fine-tuning.
This continuity is critical, because standards and practices for food safety are always evolving. FSMA gave the FDA broad authority to prevent contamination of food in every step of the supply chain. In the seven years since then, regulations at the federal, state and local levels have been constantly amended and updated across the entire spectrum of the food industry, from growers, manufacturers and processors to grocers, retailers and even culinary schools. Only ongoing test maintenance—including the development and validation of new test items—can ensure that exams stay in lockstep with the FDA food code and safety guidelines.
Exam questions also must be aligned with the accreditation guidelines of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), the private, nonprofit organization that, since 1918, has been the overseer of U.S. standards for consumer protection.
Developing and maintaining accurate, reliable food-safety exam content is complex and challenging, requiring a commitment to continuous validation and “testing of the test” to meet the needs of the marketplace and the requirements of federal, state and local regulators. Partnering with the right food safety assessment provider is crucial in meeting those needs and requirements, protecting the public, and ensuring a company’s reputation for providing safe, wholesome food.
Look for Part 3 of this series to learn more about how to create food safety exams that factor in a best-practices approach to properly assess the workforce.
If you were given the option to run a long-distance relay race, would you select four runners to split up the distance or would you choose to run it alone? That’s a no-brainer—you’d pick four runners to give yourself the best chance of success every time!
Apply the same mentality to your food safety program, and (by extension) your pest management program. The only way you’re going to be able to effectively monitor an entire facility is by establishing a team to help. Otherwise, that’s a lot of ground for just one person to cover.
As a food processing facility, you probably already have an integrated pest management (IPM) program in place. But does your staff know the telltale signs of rodents or stored product pests? Would they be able to spot cockroaches crawling around in your facility’s storage area? The earlier you can spot a pest problem, the quicker it can be resolved before it turns into a major issue that could prove costly.
Staff training is the best way to get everybody on the same page when it comes to pest management, because pests are great at hiding and living in hard-to-reach locations. It takes a trained eye to spot certain pests, and informed employees can be a great help to this.
Before you begin staff training, you will want to identify all of the areas both inside and outside of your building that are at high risk for pest issues. Schedule a meeting with your pest management provider and make note of the high-risk areas and the most common pests your facility may be prone to. Once you’ve determined these high-risk areas and the best tactics to protect against them, employee training is a logical next step.
The bigger your facility, the tougher it is to manage all of the different potential hot spots. Everybody knows this, but few consider what this means for their pest management programs. Creating an educational pest program for employees is critical to protecting your facility. The employees are on the ground level and are often the most likely spot the early signs of a pest problem.
Step 1: Start with the Basics
When beginning staff training, make sure employees understand the IPM program in place and how it works in your facility. Many pest control providers offer complimentary employee training, so reach out to your provider about on-site training sessions. As employees learn more about what each tactic does to prevent pest issues, they’ll get a better understanding of why pests get into the facility in the first place. Once informed, they can use this knowledge to help reduce potential risk factors such as standing water from a leak, food waste in processing areas and waste removal.
Here are a few telltale signs of some common pests:
Stored product pests: Though generally tough to spot, there are some common telltale signs you can spot on products like webbing, larvae, live adults—some of which can look like grain products—and, of course, damaged packaging.
Flies: If you see larvae (maggots), especially around drains and in other damp or wet areas, it’s time to act fast. Flies reproduce quickly, so small problems can escalate rapidly.
Cockroaches: They can be found behind or under equipment, wall voids, or any other protected area. Cockroaches will take advantage of nearly any food source!
Rodents: These pests leave droppings constantly, so watch out for tiny pellets. Rodents are constantly gnawing, so if you see any products with gnaw marks, that’s a good indication that rodents may be present.
A pest management provider can identify what challenges are unique to your facility and which areas are most likely to experience pest activity. Employees are going to be a crucial part of this process, so they will need to know where to look.
Step 2: Designate Roles
Employees are the eyes and ears of your business. Whether it’s pest problems or any other issues at your facility, your staff is probably going to notice issues before management does. Once they know the pests to look out for, they can also keep an eye on:
• Cracks and openings: Any opening that leads from the inside to the outside may allow pests in.
• Sanitation issues: From large bins of food waste, to break room trash cans, let them know to report when these are overflowing or need to be cleaned.
The key is once employees know what to look for, they need to know how and who to report it to. Make sure there is a pest sighting log and employees know where it is and what information to record.
Step 3: Emphasize Communication
Communication is key. We all know that. Which is why it’s so important to encourage the age-old adage when it comes to potential pest problems: “If you see something, say something!” The longer a pest issue persists, the more likely it is to turn into a costly, potentially hazardous infestation.
Consistent communication between employees, management and pest control providers benefits all parties. It ensures employees are in-the-know about important information and new initiatives while making it easier for managers and pest control professionals to stay a step ahead of invading pests. Designate a point person that employees should go to if they have something they want to talk about and make sure to utilize that pest sighting log!
Open dialogue makes it clear to employees that they are a contributing part of your IPM program. Your employees serve as the first line of defense against pests, so if they see pest activity, it’s incredibly important they feel comfortable escalating it immediately. Tell employees you want and need their input in order for your pest management efforts to be most effective. And don’t forget to solicit feedback—they might even have ideas on how to make the program better!
Step 4: Establish a Pest-Sighting Protocol
There needs to be a clear course of action for any employee who notices a pest or evidence of pests within your facility. You’re in the business of protecting your products, and many pests spread dangerous pathogens everywhere they go.
Establishing a protocol for reporting pests will keep things simple for both employee and manager, as it ensures pest problems are documented and action steps are clear. Should a pest be spotted, make sure employees know to do the following:
Capture pest(s) for identification if possible. Take pictures if you can’t. The better a pest management professional can see a pest, the more accurately they’ll be able to prescribe a solution.
Fill out a pest-sighting log and note when, where and how many pests were seen. Imagine this as a crime scene, and your pest management professional is the crime scene investigator.
Contact management if the issue is severe and needs immediate attention, at which point management should contact their pest management professional. The sooner everyone is on the same page, the quicker you can implement a solution to help prevent pests from compromising your products.
Even the best IPM program can’t keep out every pest trying to get into your facility, which is why it’s so important to establish a pest-sighting protocol. It might also be worth forming an IPM committee to meet on a monthly basis. It’s best if this committee includes members from each department and, if possible, the pest management professional in order to promote ongoing improvements.
Step 5: Ongoing Education
Once you’ve taught your employees the basics of how to spot pests, pest evidence, and how to proceed once they see any, training should not stop there.
Although pests stay relatively the same year to year, your facility won’t. Staying up to date with the latest information can help you proactively prevent pests before they become a threat to your operations. Review monitoring reports with your pest management professional to determine if changes need to occur to focus on new areas, or redouble efforts at a hot spot that hasn’t been resolved yet. Remember: Many pest issues take time to completely manage.
Ask your pest management partner for tip sheets, checklists and other educational materials to stay current, and share them with your employees. Also, keep in mind that different pests thrive in different weather conditions, so adjust your tips for employees seasonally so they know what to look for.
With all staff members consistently armed with the necessary information to help identify hot spots and minimize the risk of pests, you’ll be in great shape for your next audit. Just make sure to document everything being done to help proactively protect products. You’ve got to have proof of your efforts!
The Chicago Section of the Institute of Food Technologists (CSIFT) and Innovative Publishing, LLC, publisher of Food Safety Tech and organizer of the annual Food Safety Consortium, have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in support of each organization’s key industry events at the end of this year.
CSIFT will be holding its Annual Suppliers’ Night on Wednesday, November 1 at the Donald E. Stephens Center in Rosemont, IL. More than 500 organizations exhibit at the event, which is free to attend. “The Chicago Section IFT is the oldest and largest of the IFT sections. We are proud to host the largest regional suppliers night that draws over 3500 professionals to the Chicagoland area from around the country,” says Joy Dell’Aringa, business development manager at bioMérieux Food Pathogen and Quality Indicator Solutions. “This year, in addition to the Suppliers Night Expo, we are also hosting valuable scientific and professional development pre-show sessions.”
CSIFT members will receive 10% off registration to the 2017 Food Safety Consortium, which will be held at the Renaissance Schaumburg Convention Center in Schaumburg, IL from November 29–December 1. The conference begins with a plenary presentation by Stephen Ostroff, M.D., deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine at FDA, followed by a town hall.
Pre-conference workshops begin on Tuesday, November 28 and run through the morning of Wednesday, November 29. Educational courses include the Certified in Comprehensive Food Safety Credential Exam Review Course, a FSVP workshop, a food defense workshop, a PCQI human food blended workshop (FSPCA curriculum) and SQF Information Day.
“The Food Safety Consortium was launched in the Chicago area for multiple reasons, and we consider Chicago our home,” says Rick Biros, conference director and president of Innovative Publishing. “The Chicago Section of the Institute of Food Technologists represents a large group of local food safety professionals and this partnership provides CSIFT members benefits to a focused food safety event. The ‘Consortium’ is a collaboration of multiple organizations, and we are honored to have the CSIFT as part of the team. This partnership commits the Food Safety Consortium to the Chicago area for the foreseeable future.”
“The CSIFT is pleased to partner with the Food Safety Consortium. This will bring value not just to our membership base, but to the food safety community as a whole,” says Dell’Aringa. “We hope this partnership leads to increased collaborations and engagement between our shared member base and the food science community.”
If you are looking for someone who has been ill or has had family members who were ill or died from a foodborne illness to come and speak at your food safety training, give Stanley Rutledge or myself a call, or send us an email. Individuals want to tell their stories, they want to make a difference, and they want to have an impact. The stories are powerful and their stories are “the why” behind food safety. People who have attended the trainings tell us they never forget the people they meet and the stories told—they think about them everyday in their work and especially when making decisions that impact food and public safety.
In the fall, I was on a phone call with a man from Smithfield Foods. We, along with a few others from the company, were planning an upcoming training and speaking engagement. He said that he would never forget listening to Nancy Donley talk about her son, Alex. Dr. Robert Tauxe told me a similar story about hearing Nancy in a public forum talk about her son. Rylee Gustafson, recently through STOP Foodborne Illness, spoke at The Partnership for Food Safety Education and told her story. Now a college student, she spoke about the long-term impacts of her illness—the diabetes, the damaged pancreas, the voice and vision problems, and the high blood pressure. The room was silent and so many people came up to her afterwards to thank her for sharing.
These stories illustrate that this is real: It does happen and when the person who was involved is standing before you reliving their story, you Will remember! Of course, we have fact sheets and a lot of other information on our website for your use, but there is nothing that is more direct, thought provoking and memorable than listening. If you want to read some of the stories, visit our website. You can contact Stanley at firstname.lastname@example.org or me at email@example.com
FSMA is fostering a surge in technology solutions, analytical tools and training products marketed to the food industry in the name of achieving FSMA compliance. And while many of these products were available pre-FSMA (especially in other industries like the life sciences), FSMA’s momentum has fueled the adaptation of solutions to meet the specific needs of the food industry for achieving and maintaining regulatory compliance. This article is a summary of emerging trends in food safety management by producers, manufacturers, distributors and retailers through the application of technology, educational tools, monitoring and detection systems, and other support mechanisms.
Want to learn more about FSMA trends and compliance? Attend the 2016 Food Safety Consortium in Schaumburg, IL | December 7–8 | LEARN MOREWhether by the spark of FSMA or because it makes practical sense (and most likely, a bit of both), businesses are integrating their food safety programs with enterprise initiatives and systems for managing compliance and risk to achieve increased visibility and harmonization across the organization. The most popular trends fueled by FSMA largely reflect technology solutions to achieve this integration.
Subsequently, solutions that support risk assessment, supply chain management, real-time monitoring, corrective action, self-assessment, traceability, and training management are most attractive and lucrative from an ROI perspective. And while it may be hard to find a one-size-fits-all technology solution depending upon the needs of the organization, technology service providers are quickly raising the bar to meet these growing needs as organizations strive to reduce risk and increase compliance. Other top trends at the periphery of technology solutions include the mobilization of food safety personnel and increased availability of on-demand training and detection tools to bring the FSMA movement full circle.
1. Software-as-a-service (SaaS) technology solutions quickly gained a following in the food industry in recent years to achieve an automated food safety and quality management system (FSQMS) solution.
The substantial management components and recordkeeping requirements of the FSMA rules has accelerated the food industry’s need for automated solutions to document program management, queue workflows and distribute notifications for corrective and preventive action (CAPA). Understanding this need, many SaaS providers evolved with FSMA to provide functionality that dovetails with new regulatory requirements.
2. Increased availability of risk and vulnerability assessment tools is of significant importance in meeting many requirements of FSMA’s rules.
The regulatory language of all FSMA rules is steeped in risk analysis to support the prevention of food safety hazards and threats. This creates a demand for user-friendly tools and training courses to help food businesses analyze and update their management systems within the context of these new requirements. Risk and vulnerability assessment tools currently available to the food industry are diverse in functionality and vary in scope and cost.
For example, FDA’s free online tool, FDA-iRISK 2.0, assesses chemical and microbiological hazards in foods through process models, which quantify risk across scenarios and predict the effectiveness of control strategies. Commercially available food hazard assessment tools based on HACCP/ HARPC principles include Safefood 360° and EtQ, which provide risk assessment modules as a part of their SaaS platform.
Universities, trade associations, and commercial risk management and consulting firms came together to produce two very different food fraud vulnerability tools to support the industry. SSAFE by the University of Wageningen RIKILT, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) is a free online tool and mobile app, which guides users through a decision tree and assessment questionnaire to determine fraud opportunities, motivators and gaps in existing controls. EMAlert by the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) and Battelle is a subscription-based online tool to assess vulnerability from economically motivated adulterants (EMA’s). Individuals conducting vulnerability assessments are recommended to periodically access food risk databases such as the U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention’s (USP) food fraud database to stay informed of historical and emerging threats to the supply chain.
And in support of FSMA’s Food Defense rule, the FDA developed a free food defense software tool, Food Defense Plan Builder (FDPB), to help food businesses identify vulnerability to intentional adulterants and terrorist attacks on the food supply chain.
3. SaaS platforms, app-friendly assessment tools and FSMA recordkeeping requirements are creating a natural pathway for the increased use of mobile devices and electronic recordkeeping and verification.
From supply chain management to effective traceability to regulatory compliance, efficient document management and on-demand data retrieval is a must have of the modern FSQMS. Food businesses recognize the inherent obstacles of paper-based systems and increasingly trend towards rugged mobile devices and electronic recordkeeping to make better use of personnel resources, technology solutions and data. FSMA is helping leverage this trend two-fold through increased requirements for documentation and verification of food safety management activities and by not requiring electronic records to additionally meet the provisions of 21 CFR part 11 (electronic recordkeeping).
4. An increased demand for more effective, frequent and accessible training must be met across an organization to maintain an adequately trained workforce responsible for implementing FSMA.
To keep up with this demand—as well as the training demand imparted by GFSI schemes and fact that a company’s FSQMS is only as good as those who develop and operate it—food businesses are turning to online and blended learning courses to increase training frequency and effectiveness. In Campden BRI’s 2016 Global Food Safety Training Survey, 70% of food processors and manufacturers responded that they received training deficiencies during audits as the result of a lack of refresher training and/or lack of employee understanding.
In an effort to help close this gap and meet new implementation requirements of FSMA, food safety training providers are increasing offerings of eLearning courses, which provide targeted content in shorter duration to meet users’ needs in an interactive (and often multilingual) format. Shorter and more frequent targeted training is proven to increase knowledge retention and job performance. E-Learning training solutions can be found through dedicated training service providers as well as universities, trade associations, regulatory agencies, scheme owners, certification bodies, and other compliance organizations.
Depending upon the training provider, online training may be distributed through a learning management system (LMS) to provide additional training tools, assess training effectiveness and manage the training activities and competencies of all participants.
5. Targeted monitoring and verification activities such as product testing, environmental monitoring or water quality testing are helping to increase the demand for pathogen testing and push the frontier of improved rapid pathogen detection methods.
In a recent Food Safety Tech article, Strategic Consulting, Inc. noted more than a 13% annual increase in pathogen testing by contract food laboratories as determined by a recent industry study conducted by the group. The study additionally identified turn-around-time as the second most important factor for suppliers when choosing a contract lab. Increased access to rapid pathogen testing—and in particular, detection without time-dependent cultural enrichment—are primary needs of food businesses as regulators and customers push for enhanced monitoring and verification via testing mechanisms.
Currently, there are numerous rapid methods based on DNA, immunological or biosensor techniques. These methods can detect foodborne pathogens in relatively short amounts of time ranging from a few minutes to a few hours. But they often require pre-processing strategies to reduce matrix interference or concentrate pathogens to meet the level of detection (LOD) of the assay.1 These strategies increase the overall time of the assay and are largely the next hurdle for improved rapid detection.
6. Food businesses are experiencing a wave of self-assessment followed by CAPA as organizations work to analyze and update their food safety systems and protocols within the context of applicable FSMA rules.
This trend has the potential to be the most beneficial to the supply chain and consumers as it provides a distinct opportunity for food businesses to reconsider previously overlooked hazards and vulnerabilities and upgrade food safety controls along with the management system. Seeing the FSQMS with fresh eyes—outside of the framework of a familiar standard—can lead to significant improvements in food safety management, product safety and quality, and even operational efficiency.
7. For many food businesses, heightened regulation has spurned the need for dedicated staff to support compliance efforts.
Many food businesses are subject to multiple rules—some of which require a dedicated individual such as the Preventive Controls Qualified Individual (PCQI) to assume responsibility for the implementation of various provisions. And food businesses are not exempt from the acute need for qualified individuals with a food safety skill set. Across the industry, from service providers to retailers and everyone in between or at the fringe, executives understand that it takes tireless leadership and knowledgeable staff to produce safe food.
8. More than any other trend, communication on FSMA, food safety and related topics is easily the most prevalent exhibiting exponential activity over the past five years.
Whether in support or contention with the proposed (now final) rules, FSMA promulgates constant dialogue about food safety, what it means and how it should be implemented. The constant flurry of communication provides both benefits and deterrents to understanding the new regulations and identifying effective solutions for compliance. This dichotomy creates a significant need for authoritative and easy-to-understand information from consolidated sources within the industry such as trade associations, risk management organizations and food safety schemes. The divide has also helped fuel the need for information hubs like the Global Food Safety Resource (GFSR) that aggregate critical regulatory information, food safety solutions and best practices to reach a global community.
Wang, Y. and Salazar, J.K. Culture-Independent Rapid Detection Methods for Bacterial Pathogens and Toxins in Food Matrices. Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety. 2016; 15(1): 183-205.
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