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Gary Nowacki, CEO, TraceGains, Inc.

How Can You Improve Your Supplier Qualification and Management?

By Food Safety Tech Staff
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Gary Nowacki, CEO, TraceGains, Inc.

Proposed rules under Food Safety Modernization Act are putting new demands on food and beverage companies for prevention-based risk controls. FSMA specifically addresses issues related to this for both foreign and domestic suppliers. This is going to mean either allocating more people and more time or coming up with modern ways to address these increasing and emerging demands.

Gary Nowacki, CEO at TraceGains, Inc. will address the topic of Supplier Qualification and Management at Food Safety Tech’s Food Safety Consortium to be held next month in Chicago. He will speak about how companies are struggling with managing up-stream supplier and ingredient risk and how they can both save time and be more in control of these challenges by using powerful tools and techniques.

Nowacki says that often companies have partial information on necessary documents: “Previously, companies might have felt ok about having at least certain data on their suppliers. That’s not enough under FSMA and the increasing demands of GFSI schemes, audits, and auditors.” By automating tasks that free up valuable human resources to focus on more complex issues, says Nowacki.

Giving an example, he says think about automatically sending out notices to suppliers who are non-compliant on certain information or documents so that a valuable resource doesn’t have to waste time calling or emailing the suppliers.

The role of desk audits

Another way to strengthen supplier relationships is by doing desk audits, the topic that Chris Petrlik-Siegel, Supplier Quality Manager at TIC Gums, will address at the Food Safety Consortium.

In a desk audit, the auditor checks to see if a supplier’s system as documented meets the requirements of the GFSI code under which they are certified. It also confirms if the concerned person has validated and verified the Food Safety Plans and Food Quality Plans. The Desk Audit can be conducted as an off-site or on-site activity and issues found during the Desk Audit will be documented as non-conformities. Depending on the number and type of non-conformities documented, the audit will move to the next phase – the Facility Audit – or not move forward until and critical and major non-conformities identified are properly corrected and corrective action is verified.

“Desk audits are a great way to check how ready you are to be audited. These take a lot less time than an on-site audit, and really help in preparing for the actual audit. Desk audits are more to establish or strengthen the partnership with the supplier rather than to work on an audit for the purpose of complying with regulations,” says Petrlik-Siegel.

She explains that many times, a food company visits a supplier to do an audit, and realizes that it’s a waste of time due to lack of preparedness of the supplier. “Now due to new rules being proposed under FSMA, as an end product supplier, we are responsible for the ingredients in the products, and all the products we are importing from foreign suppliers. So we rely on in-depth audits to ensure that our suppliers have robust systems and procedures in place, in addition to what we follow in-house,” describes Petrlik-Siegel.

So with 70 suppliers, each on an average supplying about 10 ingredients, the Quality Manager stresses on the importance of desk audits preparing you for the final site audits, and also for better compliance with FSMA rules. It’s often overwhelming to do a thorough audit in a matter of one or two days, so it helps to look at documentation and identify any gaps ahead of time, Petrlik-Siegel adds.

Listen to Nowacki and Petrlik-Siegel speak about Supplier Qualification and Management at the Food Safety Consortium. Click here for more information and to register.