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Vicky Waskiewicz
FST Soapbox

Food Safety Issues Don’t Occur In The QA Manager’s Office

By Vicky Waskiewicz
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Vicky Waskiewicz

Just like many jobs, a quality assurance manager starts out with high hopes of creating a real difference in their day-to-day work. But that vision quickly gets blocked by stacks of paperwork and other to-dos taking top priority. Soon, QA managers find themselves far from the floor and far from where the real work is happening, usually stuck behind a desk in an office.

While this may have become standard practice, that doesn’t mean that there’s nothing you can do to change this reality. And, the sooner you are able to do so the better, because we all know that the job of a QA manager, especially when it comes to food safety, is important, both to the company and to the public.

Why Food Safety Should Be At The Top Of A QA Manager’s Priority List

The roles and responsibilities of a QA manager are vast, which is why it’s so easy to get caught-up in tasks that keep you holed up in your office. But of all the duties you have, the one that shouldn’t get overlooked is food safety. Because food is consumed, and has the potential to endanger consumers if it’s not produced properly, it is capable of destroying a company’s reputation and their margins, not to mention people’s lives.

As a QA manager, you know this, but you might not be doing everything in your power to make sure the food your company is producing is safe.

How To Improve Food Safety

While you can do a lot from your office, you can’t know what’s happening on the floor without actually spending time there. You have to work closely with your employees to make sure they understand the importance of food safety and therefore the importance of their job.

Here are five ways you can begin to improve the level of food safety in your company.

  1. Work directly with the production floor. Make it a priority to get out of your office regularly to observe the practices that are being used. The more you talk directly with employees about food safety, the more they will understand why it’s important and the safety precautions they can take to ensure they are creating food that is safe.
  2. Demonstrate the importance of food safety. Consider setting up a meeting or talk that gives real life examples of people who have gotten sick or hurt from food that is produced with improper practices. Demonstrating the importance of things, like proper sanitation, can make individuals on the floor aware of the repercussions if they don’t follow the safety guidelines.
  3. Get employees involved in food safety. Spend time educating your employees on measures they can take to assure that the food they are producing is safe. Letting them hold each other accountable is a powerful way to make sure there are eyes on the floor even when you’re not there.
  4. Lead by example. When management walks out onto the production floor, all eyes are on them. Be sure that senior management is aware of the rules, handwashing, hair restraints, etc. and that they follow them every time they enter the production area. Teach employees to kindly remind them if they see them bypass one of the good manufacturing practices.
  5. Regularly change signage throughout the facility. The same old signage over time becomes part of the landscape and eventually the worker is blind to it. Take the time to change the signs, using different sizes, bold colors and positive messaging.

Becoming A Food Safety Hero

QA managers play crucial roles in companies, but without putting food safety at the top of their list, they’re overlooking one of their most important jobs. By learning about steps you can take to improve food safety, like the five mentioned above, you can become a food safety hero, protecting your company and its consumers.

Food Quality Alliance Provides a Total Management Solution

The Global ID Group forms a consortium of proven leaders in food safety and quality working together to provide a single source of over 40 essential testing, training and certification services.

Whether it’s developing and testing new food products, ensuring compliance with expanding food safety and supply chain mandates, coordinating and hosting growing numbers of annual audits, or managing crucial client relationships, quality assurance (QA) managers in the food and beverage industry face rapidly escalating time and resource demands.

To help alleviate these mounting pressures, The Global ID Group has announced the formation of the Food Quality Alliance, a consortium of proven leaders in food safety and quality working together to provide a single source of over 40 essential testing, training and certification services. Launching in Q2 2015, the Alliance will provide QA teams with an integrated platform with which to centrally manage their growing array of responsibilities. The Alliance will offer products and services from the Global ID Group (CERT ID, Genetic ID and FoodChain ID) and its fellow founding members.

  • Through CERT ID, the Alliance will offer multiple food safety certification services (BRC, SQF, Global G.A.P., ISO 22000) and training programs.
  • Through Genetic ID, customers will gain access to a portfolio of pathogen, allergen, authenticity, speciation and GMO testing services.
  • FoodChain ID will offer consulting and advisory services on international non-GMO regulatory policies and help companies obtain Non-GMO Project Verification for products sold in North America, or Ohne Gentechnik and Danube Soy certification in the European Union.

Other alliance members include California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF), leading organic certifier in the U.S; The Orthodox Union, world’s leading provider of kosher certification; and The Acheson Group LLC, global experts in managing operational, regulatory and reputational risks for the food industry along with crisis and recall management. The Alliance will also include laboratory partners providing a full array of chemical and nutritional testing services.

“As regulatory requirements and market demands on food companies continue to grow, QA departments often find themselves struggling to keep up with the rigors of compliance,” said Ron Stakland, Global ID Group vice president of business development. “From food safety to sustainability to specialized niches like gluten-free and kosher, much of the work for assuring safe and compliant food products and ingredients falls on the QA department. At the same time, the need to stay competitive and keep costs in check has never been greater. The purpose of the Alliance is to offer QA managers a simpler way to manage multiple services.”

To learn more about the Food Quality Alliance, visit www.foodqualityalliance.com.