By Laura Gutierrez Becerra, Melanie Neumann, JD, MS, Melody Ge No Comments
This month we are truly honored to introduce two committee members who are devoted to helping women in the industry, especially young professionals. Melanie Neumann and Laura Gutierrez Becerra are outstanding professionals who believe in the importance of women in leadership roles.
Melanie Neumann, Executive Vice President and General Counsel, Matrix Sciences
Melanie Neumann leverages both a juris doctorate law degree specializing in food laws and regulations and a Master’s degree in food science to assist the food and beverage industry with regulatory, business, brand and public health risk management solutions in today’s ever-changing risk landscape. Neumann launched her career as a food law attorney for Hormel Foods Corporation, and held similar roles at The Schwan Food Company, and the law firm of Fredrikson & Byron, all based in Minnesota where she was born and raised by her mother who was described by Melanie as “the reason I am as successful as I am today.” After her initial career launch, Neumann evolved into food safety and enterprise risk management consulting roles for Pricewaterhouse Coopers and boutique food safety consulting firms before launching her own business, Neumann Risk Services, which was subsequently assumed by Matrix Sciences International, Inc.— food safety and quality experts focusing on microbiological, chemistry, analytical, residue and pesticide laboratory testing, sensory testing, data analytics and food safety risk management advisory services. (Neumann is also a member of Food Safety Tech’s Advisory Board).
Laura Gutierrez Becerra, Food Safety & Quality Assurance Director, Calyxt
Born and raised in Mexico, Laura Gutierrez Becerra completed her undergraduate studies in biological and pharmaceutical chemistry and holds a Master’s degree in food science and technology. Her passion for embracing a safe global food supply chain started in college while participating in a student exchange program where she saw the need to help other countries improve their food safety systems and establish a global food safety culture. Gutierrez Becerra’s experience includes corporate restaurant, retail and manufacturing food sectors where she has established risk-based food safety programs and led management of quality through the product lifecycle while embracing strong partnerships with stakeholders in order achieve a shared preventative accountability.
What prompted the launch of a group that focuses on female professional development in the food safety sector?
Melanie Neumann: Melanie’s commitment to empowering women has a long history, starting with encouraging women to actively participate in local and state politics to volunteering for female running programs that empower girls to realize they can always do more than they think they can. In the food safety arena, Neumann was the first female to serve in nearly every professional role she has held, so she is well aware of the trials—and the joys—of paving the way not only for herself but for other women as well. In founding and running her own successful consulting firm, she understands the courage, commitment, fears and support required to successfully navigate professional advancement in food safety, while still preserving a balance to pursue her passion. She competes in the Ironman long-distance triathlons and is participating in her ninth Ironman triathlon in April 2020.
Laura Gutierrez Becerra: Raising a multi-cultural and multi-lingual family with her husband, Gutierrez Becerra embraces diversity of thought and inclusion of ideology for the establishment of a global food safety culture. Building the strengths of young women during their educational and career journeys will help build the foundation for a strong and diverse food safety community. Gutierrez Becerra also believes it is important to have male food safety leaders participate in this group to walk the audience through their experiences when bringing women along their own professional career, as well as sharing what they have learned while partnering with women in food safety roles at all leadership levels
How do you see this group positioned in the future?
Neumann: Neumann envisions a female-forward/female-centric group where women in food safety can gain mentoring, networking and volunteer opportunities, and share successes and challenges unique to women in the field. That said, she also sees a role for our male counterparts in food safety to provide insights into successful strategies and tactics for females to consider leveraging. Neumann views our field as one, but comprised of many perspectives, and is dedicated to helping ensure that each voice is heard.
Gutierrez Becerra: Based on the fact that the food industry is continually and rapidly evolving—where product launches are led by consumer trends and behaviors—Gutierrez Becerra sees and believes this social network will support women in connecting and guiding each other while learning from each others careers and challenging experiences regardless of the career level. She also believes this group can be a great venue through which to seek advice and embrace work/life balance while striving for a career path.
We invite you to join the group, For Women in Food Safety or direct message Melody Ge on LinkedIn. We welcome all the support and are constantly looking for mentors. If you are interested in mentoring the young food safety professionals, please reach out to Melody Ge, Jill Hoffman, Jacqueline Southee, Melanie Neumann and Laura Gutierrez Becerra through the group. We can do this together!
EDGARTOWN, MA, January 22, 2020 – Innovative Publishing Company Inc., publisher of Food Safety Tech, has announced that Frank Yiannas, deputy commissioner for food policy and response at FDA, will serve as the keynote speaker for the 2020 Food Safety Consortium Conference & Expo on October 21. The Consortium is the industry’s leading food safety event for networking and educational opportunities, and takes place October 21–23 in Schaumburg, IL (just outside Chicago).
“At last year’s Food Safety Consortium, Frank Yiannas spoke about the ‘sea change’ happening at FDA and the increased efforts on the part of the agency to drive more transparency and traceability. We look forward to his insights, as well as learning more about FDA’s progress on its initiatives, especially the New Era of Smarter Food Safety,” says Rick Biros, president of Innovative Publishing Co., Inc. and director of the Food Safety Consortium Conference & Expo.
This year’s Food Safety Consortium Conference & Expo features three breakout tracks: Food Safety, chaired by Angela Anandappa, Ph.D., founding director of the Alliance for Advanced Sanitation; Food Integrity, chaired by Steven Sklare, president of The Food Safety Academy; and Food Defense, chaired by Jason Bashura, senior manager, global food defense at PepsiCo.
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
Food companies are concerned about protecting their customers, their brands and their own company’s financial bottom line. The term “Food Protection” requires a company-wide culture that incorporates food safety, food integrity and food defense into the company’s Food Protection strategy. The Food Safety Consortium Conference and Expo is an educational and networking event for Food Protection that has food safety, food integrity and food defense as the foundation of the educational content of the program. With a unique focus on science, technology and compliance, the “Consortium” enables attendees to engage in conversations that are critical for advancing careers and organizations alike. Delegates visit with exhibitors to learn about cutting-edge solutions, explore three high-level educational tracks for learning valuable industry trends, and network with industry executives to find solutions to improve quality, efficiency and cost effectiveness in the evolving food industry.
With the passage of the Farm Bill, there has been a great deal of interest from the food industry in cannabis-infused foods and beverages, which includes hemp and CBD. The Food Safety Consortium is co-located with The Cannabis Quality Conference & Expo, an educational and networking event for cannabis safety and quality solutions. Serving the Midwest market with a unique focus on science, technology and compliance, the Cannabis Quality Conference enables attendees to engage in conversations that are critical in finding solutions to improve regulatory compliance, quality, efficiency and cost effectiveness in a quickly evolving cannabis marketplace. Both conference programs run concurrently, thus, Food Safety Consortium registrants can attend any of the Cannabis Quality Conference presentations and vice versa. This year’s event takes place October 21–23 in Schaumburg, IL and is co-located with the Cannabis Quality Conference & Expo.
“For Women, By Women in Food Safety” is a professional group that was formed in January 2019. Comprised of outstanding female leadership, food safety professionals and students who are passionate about this field, the goal is to provide a community and networking platform for the industry to share their stories and experiences, help young professionals, and grow together. Hopefully, the lessons and challenges that are shared will prove useful throughout one’s career journey.
“I see this group as means of connecting young, female food safety professionals to other females in food safety roles so they can share insights from their own experiences in their careers,” says Jill Hoffman, group committee member, and director of global quality systems and food safety at McCormick & Company.
Meet the Group Founder
Melody Ge has 10+ years’ experience in food safety and is passionate about food safety on a global scale. She holds both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in food science and engineering, starting her career journey with Beyond Meat as the technical director for product development and food safety and quality control. Following this position Ge established the compliance and integrity program at SQFI, and then worked as the deputy QA director at Lidl US. Currently, Ge is the head of compliance at Corvium, Inc. where she continues to foster food safety culture using advanced technology within the industry. As a non-U.S. citizen, Ge is fortunate to work with different cultures and industries, including retailers and manufacturers, using her multi-language skills and expertise in food safety. Ge believes in women’s leadership and in using their strengths to be successful in their roles.
Meet Some of the Committee Members
Jacqueline Southee, North American Representative, FSSC 22000
Jacqueline Southee is an agricultural scientist with a Ph.D. in animal science.She has an academic foundation with what one might call “earthy roots”. “I worked in the animal welfare arena for years before taking a career break to relocate from Europe to the USA and raise two boys. I was fortunate to have an opportunity to return to work with FSSC 22000 in 2013 and have enjoyed building the profile of the organization’s certification program in North America,” says Southee. “I also have experience in (and have encountered challenges) developing and evaluating standard operating procedures. This is becoming more relevant today in the food industry as regulations demand worldwide consistency in the use of standard approaches to minimizing risk and controlling hazards,” she says.
One of Southee’s greatest attributes is her “internationalism”, her experience working professionally with different cultures and fields, and her ability to communicate with all levels of an organization. She believes that there are huge opportunities in food safety for women of all ages and a need for a range of experiences. It remains important to communicate, encourage and to share in order to cultivate the next generation of food safety professionals.
Jill Hoffman, Director of Global Quality Systems and Food Safety, McCormick & Company
Jill Hoffman started her journey in food safety in college with a major in food science, when her exposure and desire to pursue a career in food came to her while taking a human nutrition course. Since then, Hoffman has had many roles in food manufacturing, both in food safety and quality as well as in operations management. In 2019, she completed her master’s degree in food safety at Michigan State University, which resolved her dilemma of pursuing an advanced degree without having to go back to school full-time (not an option for her!). Hoffman found the online master’s program was perfect for her to pursue an advanced degree in an area that truly interested her and was relevant to her career.
Currently, Hoffman works at McCormick & Co., Inc. as the director of global quality systems and food safety. At McCormick, she has been able to grow as a food safety professional as well as gain valuable experience working internationally and understanding the dynamics of working across cultures. She enjoys working to develop programs and solutions to address the ever-changing food safety and quality challenges that present themselves.
As Hoffman’s career continues to grow, she has learned and values the importance of work/life balance. She actively works to ensure balance between the two, as it is so important to take care of all aspects of yourself, not just your professional self. “The things we do outside of our ‘work self’ can help to grow and shape us as people just as much as the formal coaching and learning that we do in our day-to-day jobs,” Jill says.
What prompted the launch of a group that focuses on female professional development in the food safety sector?
Read the interview with Melody Ge, Technology Helps Your Food Safety Employees Work Smarter, Not HarderMelody Ge: I started this group because I received many questions from students about building their careers in food safety. I would love to help more, and I know my own experience is limited, so I wanted to leverage the knowledge of so many outstanding women out there. Hence, I formed this group with the hopes that it could be a resource to those who are seeking solutions in the industry.
Jacqueline Southee: I believe the food safety sector is growing exponentially with increasingly diverse requirements for a wider skill set, which needs to be communicated to young food scientists still making academic choices and building their proficiencies and talents. In addition, new opportunities are being created by this global industry that the next generation of food scientists need to be made aware of.
Jill Hoffman: I see this group as an opportunity to bring women together to share stories and challenges that have arisen throughout their careers. The group gives women an ability to learn how others have navigated both challenging and rewarding moments in their careers so that they can incorporate this awareness into their own journey. Additionally, this group will help with sharing the diverse opportunities in food safety. Everyone has a different road they’ve traveled to get to where they are today, and it’s important to share these stories as a testament to knowing that everyone doesn’t have to have traveled the same pathway in education or career experience to get into a role of ensuring food safety.
How do you see this group positioned in the future?
Ge: I would like to see this group sustain itself in the food safety industry and become a safe harbor for women to talk about their passions, experiences, challenges and learn from each other so ultimately, we all can be stronger in the industry together.
Southee: As the industry becomes more global, its success will depend on tech-savvy technologists and food scientists who have a wide range of skills, including in information science, regulations, quality management systems, economics, politics and climatology. The list is endless. We need to make sure the lines of communication are open, the opportunities are open to all and that we can help shepherd young women through.
Hoffman: I think there’s a flexible vision for the group to grow into a recognized forum for women to engage in at all points in their careers. The group will grow into an active space for sharing, learning and networking among food safety professionals and female students pursuing an interest in the field of food safety.
We can do this together!
Are you interested in helping the group? Although, it’s a female-focused group, we are open to all feedback, support, and partnership opportunities to grow this group together. We hope to hear from you. You can join the group, For Women, By Women in Food Safety or direct message Melody Ge on LinkedIn.
Currently, this is a LinkedIn group, and all committee members have joined voluntarily. However, with support from Food Safety Tech, we are planning on writing monthly columns for the publication, scheduling in-person meet ups at some of the industry conferences, and engaging in mentoring programs, webinars and more activities in the near future. We hope our visions can be achieved throughout the team efforts together.
Industry from the public and private sector joined for a record turnout during the FDA public meeting yesterday to discuss the agency’s initiative, a new era of smarter food safety. The meeting, which was at maximum capacity for both in-person as well as webcast attendance, began with a call to action from FDA Deputy Commissioner, Office of Food Policy and Response, Frank Yiannas on the importance of all stakeholders in the industry to work together to drive the change. As Yiannas has previously commented, the food industry is in the midst of a revolution. The world is changing faster than ever, and the FDA is challenged with not just creating a safer, more technology-centric and traceable food system, but also getting there faster and more effectively. “I’ve always believed that words we use are important,” he said. As the day’s various discussions would be around the new era of smarter food safety, Yiannas gave the audience a definition to consider: “A new era is a memorable or important date or event, especially one that begins with a new period in our history.”
FDA held breakout sessions centered on areas critical to the initiative:
Tech-enabled traceability and outbreak response
Smarter tools and approaches for prevention
Adapting to new business models and retail modernization
Food safety culture
During each session, FDA facilitators asked the audience questions. The following are some key points brought out during the breakouts.
Tech-Enabled Traceability and Outbreak Response
FDA should consider all parts of the supply chain when thinking about traceability
Take into account considerations for sharing sensitive data along the supply chain
Speaking a common language and creating data standards, along with necessary minimum data elements for traceability is critical
Better communication related to data sharing as well as more meetings with FDA and stakeholders, especially during outbreaks
Show industry the ROI of the data
Provide a roadmap or recommendation for companies on where they can begin on their traceability journey
Request for unity across government agencies (i.e., FDA, USDA), as it would provide more clarity during an outbreak
Smarter Tools and Approaches for Prevention
Trust and transparency are key
Safeguards that address privacy concerns and liability
Data sharing: Concern about retroactive investigations
Types of data: With the “treasure trove” of existing data out there, which is the most important and helpful in improving food safety?
Environmental assessments and root cause analysis—more dialogue between FDA and industry
Adapting to New Business Models and Retail Food Safety Modernization
More need for collaboration
Globalization and use of best practices
Establishing a common standard to level the playing field
Establish best practices for tamper resistance
The last mile: Food safety training for food delivery personnel as well as harmonization for last mile delivery
More consumer education
Food Safety Culture
Emphasis on behavior and humanizing the work: Focusing on what happens within organizations at all levels
Clarity and communication are important
Leveraging current food safety culture best practices as well as any relevant existing standards (i.e., ISO, Codex)
Partnerships are critical, finding the balance between compliance and collaboration
Other Factors FDA Must Consider
The FDA meeting also included panel discussions that drew out the realities FDA must consider in this rapidly changing environment. “These are exciting times and this initiative is recasting our thinking in a whole new light,” said CFSAN Director Susan Mayne, adding, “We need to get ahead of these challenges and not be in reactive mode.”
Consumer awareness and demands for healthy, locally sourced and minimally processed food, for example, are creating increased pressures on food companies and retailers. In addition, the digital savvy and diverse Generation Z (the population born between 1990 and 2010, which will comprise nearly 40% of the U.S. population by 2020) has buying habits and a strong desire for transparency that is shifting how food companies will need to do business, according to Mary Wagner, president of MX Wagner & Associates.
“Trust represents safety, quality and commitment on a much more personal level to our consumers,” said Dirk Herdes, senior vice president at the Nielsen Company, emphasizing the need to communicate with authenticity. “Consumers have never been more informed, but never have been more overwhelmed with information. It’s not data—it’s trust. Trust is the new currency with which we’ll operate.”
FDA and USDA also remain committed to building a stronger relationship between the agencies, said Mindy Brashears, Ph.D., deputy undersecretary for food safety at USDA. “As science moves forward, we have to allow our policies to move forward to keep consumers safe,” she added.
The comments shared during yesterday’s meeting, along with written and electronic comments (with a deadline of November 20), will be considered as FDA puts together its blueprint document for a new era of smarter food safety. More information about providing comments can be found on the Federal Register page.
Eight years ago, the government passed FSMA. As a manufacturer, training new and existing employees to remain compliant with legislation is paramount. The goal isn’t to make life harder for business owners—it’s to protect American consumers from unsafe food handling and transportation practices.
The following are five tips to help warehouse managers train employees while maintaining FSMA compliance.
Understand FSMA Final Rules
It’s essential for everyone in the facility, from the CEO to the newest hire, to understand the FSMA rules. According to current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMP), everyone who works in manufacturing, processing or packaging of food is required to train in food hygiene and safety. Managers can offer training in one of two ways—through on the job experience or via an FSMA-accredited classroom curriculum.
For individuals with specialized jobs, such as quality auditors or preventative controls qualified individuals (PCQI), the training option that allows compliance with FSMA rules is an accredited curriculum.
Utilize Warehouse Management Systems
FSMA gives the FDA authority to issue mandatory recalls for any food products if deemed necessary. To meet FSMA standards, record keeping and lot tracking is a necessity. If a product type is linked to a disease outbreak, the FDA wants to know where each product in that lot is within 24 hours. Having the ability to track and trace 100% of the products ensures that the company is FSMA compliant.
A warehouse management system (WMS) can track products, but only if you train employees in its use. While the average employee won’t be responsible for tracing a production lot in the event of a recall, each worker needs to know how to enter data into the system correctly, and how to retrieve the information if necessary. Include training in your WMS to ensure compliance.
Warehouse management systems, when paired with IoT sensors, can prevent recalls and ensure compliance by monitoring temperature fluctuations in climate-controlled areas. According to the Department of Agriculture, frozen food stored at temperatures at or below -0.4° F is always safe. A comprehensive WMS can monitor the temperature inside a facility’s freezers and alert workers or management if there are dramatic fluctuations that may result in a recall.
Seek Out Alliances
Warehouse managers are not alone when it comes to creating a compliant workplace. The FDA has established and funded three alliances—Produce Safety, Food Safety Preventative Controls, and Sprout Safety—each with their own standardized curriculum designed to help those who fall under FSMA rules.These alliances work for the majority of those in the food production industry, though they may not work for everyone.
Seek out the applicable food safety alliance and see if their training curriculums apply to your facility. Even if they don’t fit directly, these alliances can give managers an excellent place to start creating their training curriculum.
Create a Culture of Compliance
FSMA isn’t designed to make life harder for warehouse managers. Its goal is to keep people safe when buying their weekly groceries. Don’t just focus on training to meet FSMA standards. Instead, create a culture of compliance throughout the facility. Make FSMA everyone’s responsibility, and make it easier for employees to communicate with management if they notice a problem that normal channels don’t address.
As part of this culture of compliance, create incentives that reward employees for reporting problems, maintaining compliance levels and completing accredited training. Sometimes incentives can be the best way to motivate employees, whether you’re offering money, paid vacation or other benefits. Walk employees through the process of how to spot a problem and report it to management.
Continue Education Throughout Employment
FSMA compliance training isn’t something you should restrict to an employee’s onboarding. It’s something you should continue throughout their time at your facility. Make FSMA education a priority for every worker in your facility. While you want to start their training with onboarding, it shouldn’t stop there. Offer new training courses once a month or every three months—as often as you’d like without compromising productivity.
As the day-to-day grind continues, most workers forget about rules and regulations. Continuing education ensures FSMA compliance is at the forefront of everyone’s mind throughout their careers. Continuing your employee’s education is also shown to increase loyalty and reduce turnover, keeping things running smoothly and preventing warehouse managers from training new workers every quarter.
The FDA oversees food safety and can issue a recall when a problem occurs. Yes, as a whole, it’s the responsibility of every single person working in the food production industry—from the highest-paid CEO to the newest employee on the production floor—to maintain compliance. It’s not enough to review guidelines with new employees during onboarding.
Training is essential to ensure everyone in a facility maintains the rules laid down by FSMA. Seek out assistance in the form of the FDA-funded alliances, continue employee education and make it a point to create a culture of compliance from the moment employees walk through the door. Offer continuous training opportunities and you’ll never have to worry about breaking FSMA rules.
As someone who recently switched industries and is now an executive in a business development role for a curriculum development company that provides a 100% online PCQI course, I was trying to determine which of the many events to attend in the food industry.
After some research, I decided to attend the 7th Annual 2019 Food Safety Consortium Conference & Expo and felt it would be helpful for anyone in a business development or sales/marketing role to have some details and tips about how I prioritize events. I also wanted to provide additional information for those in a C-level, Director, Manager, etc. position that are setting plans for the remainder of 2019 and establishing plans for 2020.
Location, Location, Location!!!
Rick Biros, president of Innovative Publishing Co., has more than 25 years of experience in the food industry and is very well known and respected. Rick saw the need for this type of event due to the variety of changes in the industry. Rick and his team did the research on the best place to have the event, which included considerations like ease of access to airports, hotel cost and percentage of food manufacturers in the area. His team found that the Schaumburg, IL area has the highest concentration of food manufacturers within a 200-mile radius. In addition, Chicago O’Hare airport is only a 30-minute ride to the beautiful Renaissance Schaumburg Convention Center where this event has been held. The Consortium team was able to negotiate a very reasonable hotel rate of around $175/night, which is a terrific deal for this area. It is also close enough to downtown Chicago that if you want to stay an extra day or two or take your team out, you have plenty of options available.
Two Great Events for One Price!
This year the Food Safety Consortium Conference & Expo is co-located with the Cannabis Quality Conference & Expo this year. Anyone in the food industry understands how fast things are expanding and changing within the cannabis industry, not to mention that the state of Illinois has approved adult use effective January 2020. Both events will share the same exhibit area, which is a tremendous plus for anyone who is trying to make contacts within both industries and has invested in a booth space. This also means that attendees from both events will be a part of the social mixer events on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings, facilitating additional networking opportunities.
Decision Makers Are Present
There are many different events within the food industry, but few have a high percentage of the actual decision makers in attendance. Often, they are made up of a variety of people from the education, government and industrial sectors of the industry that may be students, entry-level management, etc. Based on the attendance from the past, 98% of attendees to this event are within the Industrial sector of the food industry. More importantly, due to the contacts that Rick & team have made over the past years, the C-level and mid-level management make up a very large portion of those that attend this event. This enables attendees to network with those who can make the key decisions that may impact your company’s growth, as opposed to talking with someone about what your company offers only to find out they are multiple levels of approval that need to happen before even moving forward to present a proposal.
Training & Expo Discount Combinations
While there are numerous options provided within registering for this dual conference event, one option is to take advantage of the discounted rate on combining event attendance with training. One of these training options is offered by my company, ImEpik, which offers full-access to the Expo and conference sessions, and includes our 100% online PCQI course that is self-paced and available 24/7 for your convenience. The Innovative Publishing team has agreed to offer both for the low price of $895. That is lower than ImEpik’s retail cost, minus any promotions, for just the course itself –so the fact that you can get both our course and a full-conference pass to the Food Safety Consortium and the Cannabis Quality Conference is a tremendous value for any company. One other detail is the person attending doesn’t have to be the person that is given access to the training. The attendee may be senior level management who doesn’t need additional training but may need someone within his or her staff to receive PCQI training. Additional details about the training we offer are available on ImEpik’s website.
Team Building & Leadership Is a Priority
There are three breakout sessions that occur throughout the event. Each of those sessions will fall into one of the following categories:
Food Safety & Testing
Sanitation & Operations
Food Safety Leadership
As many folks that I have personally spoken with at various events have attested, typically the leadership in the food industry is more “technical” in their leadership. One focus at the event this year is break-out sessions that focus on topics such as empowered leadership, team-building, and enabling teams that are afraid of making mistakes and therefore may not voice their opinion, which may include some positive ideas for company leaders. Come join Kathryn Birmingham, V.P. of Research & Development at ImEpik, and I as we present: Beyond meeting the FSMA regulations, the business case for PCQI, Wednesday, October 2 at 2:45 PM.
In summary, I hope this article is helpful in your 2019/2020 event planning. The networking opportunity as well as the chance to take advantage of combined training packages, multiple Expos (Food Safety and Cannabis) and access to decision makers make this event a “must” to attend. For more details on the agenda, hotel, etc. please visit the Food Safety Consortium website. Hope to see you there, and please visit Imepik at booth 105 on the Expo floor.
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.
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