Tag Archives: QA

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.

Interview: FSQA Enabling Technologies as a Food Safety and Quality Assurance Game Changer

By Barbara Levin
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In an interview withFood Safety Tech, Barbara Levin, Senior Vice President and Co-Founder of SafetyChain Software, talks about FSQA Enabling Technologies – the Food Safety and Quality Assurance (FSQA) Game Changer, a series of leadership forums, tech talks and executive briefs that SafetyChain has launched this month.

Barbara-Levin2The focus of the series is how technology can help FSQA teams execute to meet today’s biggest food safety and quality challenges in program management, compliance, continuous improvement, risk mitigation and much more.

Food Safety Tech (FST): SafetyChain is launching a new series, called FSQA Enabling Technologies – the Food Safety and Quality Assurance Game Changer. What is the series about and what will it include?

Barbara Levin: For the past three years, working with thought leaders throughout the food and beverage industry, SafetyChain has helped educate and share insights on critical topics – such as FSMA and GFSI. In 2015, we’re excited to bring the conversation to the next level – to discuss the tools that are available to execute on challenges such as FSMA compliance, managing GFSI programs, risk management/brand protection, audit readiness, cost of quality, supplier compliance, operational KPI performance and much more.

FST: Why is technology an important topic in food safety today as we enter 2015?

Levin: I strongly believe that adoption of FSQA enabling technologies is vital, necessary and inevitable – and the only way food companies are going to be able to scale to meet all of the challenges ahead of them. And industry is realizing this and wants to learn more as technology adoption is becoming more mainstream. Think about the technologies we all use at work and home today – things like employee portals to view our paychecks, email, online banking, all of the apps on our computer tablets – none of us can imagine doing without them now. Well think about suppliers entering Certificate of Analysis info on portals. FSQA folks doing pre-harvest inspections on mobile app forms, getting safety and quality information in realtime to determine if there are non-conformances and CAPAs required. And there are hundreds of other examples. We think these will become a way of life too in food safety and quality. So we’re really excited to provide a forum for this FSQA technology conversation.

FST: What changes have we seen in Food Safety and Quality Assurance enabling technologies that are allowing them to achieve more widespread, mainstream adoption?

Levin: There’s a wrong perception that the food industry lags behind some other industries when it comes to technology adoption. In reality, food companies have automated a lot of their functions – look at finance, human resources, payroll systems, supply chain, purchasing, inventory and such. These functions were automated because it saved time, saved money and created operational efficiencies.

Where there was a lag was in adoption of FSQA technologies. I think that this was because first generation safety and quality technologies were behind the firewall – and as we know food safety and quality folks are not sitting at their desks looking at a computer all day. Instead, they are out in the field doing a pre-harvest inspections, or on the plant floor, or at the supplier site doing an audit, or with the customer… basically they are everywhere except at a desk. But today, there are many cloud-based, mobile food safety and quality technologies that can be accessed anywhere, at anytime – and this has really been a game changer when it comes to adoption. Now, food companies are deploying technologies and gaining the same advantages – saving time, saving money and creating efficiencies that improve FSQA.

FST: What are some of the triggers leading teams to explore technology for the first time?

Levin: The word “more” is key to this answer. FSQA is seeing more regulation (think FSMA), more third party schemes like GFSI to manage, more audits, more pressure to improve operational KPIs and reduce the cost of quality. The only thing there’s not more of usually is people – and so technology is the most efficient way to scale to do “more with less.” Additionally technology is the key to getting FSQA information in the fastest manner possible – for timely CAPAs – and be preventive vs. reactive in ensuring that non-compliant products do not go into commerce.

FST: Where do you see FSQA enabling technologies as having the biggest impact on safety and quality operations?

Levin: For me, FSQA enabling technology can have great impact in these areas:

  • Reducing risk for withdrawals, rejections and recalls;
  • Having real time and continuous information to generate CAPAs and ensure safe, quality food;
  • Managing supplier risk and supply chain controls;
  • Scalability to do more without having to add more people;
  • Being audit ready – for regulatory, GFSI, customer and internal audits all the time – even for unannounced audits;
  • Reducing the cost of quality; and
  • Having actionable data for meaningful continuous improvement.

All of these really come under one umbrella, which is protecting the brand and financial value of your company.

FST: What’s coming up in terms of topics and speakers during the series kickoff?

Levin: The series has three components – Leadership Forums on “big picture” topics, Tech Talks on specific FSQA issues and how technology helps resolve challenges associated with those issues, and executive brief whitepapers on the business side of technology benefits.

The first leadership forum, scheduled for March 13, will feature Bob Butcher, Ipswich Shellfish Company’s FSQA Group Operations Manager, and Jeff Chilton, President of Chilton Consulting Group, and will focus on The Business Case for Food Safety and Quality Technology. Future topics include the Role of Technology in Risk Mitigation and Brand Protection, and Technology as an Enabler to Reduce the Cost of Quality.

The FSQA Tech Talks kick off at the end of March with the following topics:

  • March 31 – Tackling FSMA Compliance: How Automation Enables HACCP-to-HARPC migration, FSMA Reporting, Supply Chain Controls and More
  • April 21 – Harmonizing FSQA – It’s All About the Cloud: How the Cloud and Mobile Technologies Enable Anywhere, Anytime FSQA Data Capture and CAPA Generation
  • May 19 – Facilitating Continuous Improvement: Enabling Actionable Data for Trending, Benchmarking and Reporting Across Your Entire Operation

The first executive brief is available now and is titled, “The Critical Role of FSQA Enabling Technologies for Today’s Food Safety and Quality Operations: Technology as an Enabler to Fundamentally Change How Food Safety & Quality Operations Manage Risk and Meet Key Performance Indicators.”

Additional details on the entire series – along with registration and download information – is available at www.safetychain.com/2015TechSeries.

FST: Who should attend this series, and how can they get more information?

Levin: Folks from Food Safety, Food Quality, Operations, Legal, Financial, Executive and Information Technology Management from all sectors of the food and beverage industry are encouraged to register and participate in the series. Everything is complimentary and new topics and dates will be announced frequently. We also invite FoodSafetyTech readers to let us know what topics they’d like to see – they can email us at info@safetychain.com.

How to Run an Audit-Ready Co-Pack Operation

By James Houghton
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If an auditor were to walk through your site today, would you be proud of its set-up and its ability to uphold quality and regulatory standards for yourself and your client?

I think many of us have once been – or are still – in a state of scurrying around right before an auditor knocks on our front doors. When you’re small and growing quickly, it’s hard not to be reactive for things like regulatory audits. But at some point, you have to proactively build out repeatable processes to drive long-term growth, and start really taking control of your own operation.

Here’s the ideal:

You want your co-pack operation to be in a state of audit-readiness. That is, if an auditor were to walk through your site today, you’d be proud of its set-up and its ability to uphold quality and regulatory standards for yourself and your client.

Earlier in October, I presented a webinar on “How to Run an Audit-Ready Co-Pack Operation,” i.e., how to get your house in order. Here are the five pillars of maintaining a state of audit-readiness for your co-pack operation:

Culture

In the same way that you have built a culture of collaboration and client satisfaction you’ll also need to build one for Quality. The way you prioritize and permeate Quality initiatives throughout the organization, from your senior team to your shop floor staff, will show when the auditor walks through the doors.

Paperwork

It’s vitally important that your paperwork is in order, including your SOPs, transactional items like RFQs, POs, and SOWs, and most importantly, the batch record. The auditor will be looking for two things amongst all of your documentation: content and consistency. The content needs to meet regulatory requirements, and there needs to be consistency between what you say you do and what you actually do.

It’s not rocket science: you need to write out what you do, and then you have to do the activities that reflect what you’ve written down. This is often the one thing that won’t be maintained properly, unless it’s given attention.

Physical Space

Your physical space will be audited to ensure it’s set up with the correct flow, that it is kept clean, and there is documentation to that effect.

To make sure your physical space is up to par for an audit, imagine that you yourself are the product… go back to your receiving doors and physically walk through your facility, as a “day in the life” of your product. You’ll be able to see where you go, how you are handled, and where each step is documented. Along the way, anything that’s not delineated, not treated or identified properly, or does not follow a logical flow, are the areas you need to lock down before an audit.

Material Control

An auditor will want to see that you’re in control of your materials, and that you have track and traceability. Being able to track where you’re storing things in the site, where it’s moving, what your processes are for moving inventory, etc… all that demonstrates that you have the traceability controls to be able to handle mock and real recalls and maintain consumer safety.

Production

Ahh… the production line. It’s where the magic happens. When setting up your production line, you need to make sure you have appropriate line clearance, the lines are segregated, the correct staff are on the line to do the project, and that they have had the proper training for their particular activity in the line. In the co-pack world, where things are highly customized with low repeatability, it can be easy to overlook the extensive amount of training it takes to make sure each production line is in good hands. You need, however, to make sure you do your due diligence to maintain production accuracy, quality assurance, and regulatory standards.

In the webinar, I discuss each of these areas in greater detail. If maintaining a state of audit-readiness is an endeavor you’d like to pursue, watch the webinar for more details or access the slide deck by clicking here

Purnendu C. Vasavada, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus at University of Wisconsin

What Should You Know About Food Safety Testing?

By Sangita Viswanathan
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Purnendu C. Vasavada, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus at University of Wisconsin

Food safety is in the news. Recent food industry, regulatory and consumer trends stress proactive, systematic and preventive approach to food safety by managing food hazards and risks. Testing for food safety hazards, particularly microbial hazards and allergens throughout the food production and processing chain is becoming increasingly important in assuring food safety. Food testing is also becoming important for detection of adulteration.

In next week’s Food Safety Consortium to be held in Schaumburg, IL, Purnendu C. Vasavada, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus at University of Wisconsin, River Falls, and President of PCV & Associates, LLC, will discuss trends in the food safety testing market and approaches for testing of food and food plant environment, emphasizing microbial and other significant food hazards. In this article, PC, as he is popularly referred to, gives a sneak-peek into his presentation.

Food Safety Tech (FST): You will be speaking about the Food Testing Market – what are some broad trends that you are seeing?

PC: Food Microbiology testing is increasing worldwide but majority of testing is still dealing with food quality assurance and ingredient and product testing. Testing for pathogens seem to be driven by regulatory requirement. According to recent market reports, 76 percent of test volume in North America is for routine microbiology. In the EU and Asia, routine microbiology accounts for 81 percent and 72 percent of test volume, respectively.

Most pathogen testing is for Salmonella, E. Coli 057:H7 and Stex, Listeria and as L. monocytogenes. There is an increasing interest in testing for Campylobacter.

Testing of in-process and environmental samples is more common in NA and Europe. In Asia in-process/environmental testing only accounts for 9 percent of total test volume.

FST: In your presentation at the Consortium, what will you talk about FSMA and its impact on food safety testing?

PC: I plan to include a brief discussion on testing as related to monitoring and verification of Preventive Controls.

FST: Where is food safety testing headed, and what should food safety managers keep in mind?

PC: Given the emphasis on supply chain management and process control to manage identified hazards in preventive mode, food safety managers should understand testing internal and external testing requirements and complexity of sampling, testing tools and approaches not simply focus on cost aspects. Even if testing is outsourced, becoming familiar with various methods and testing tools will be necessary.

FST: Who should attend your presentation and why?

PC: Plant managers, quality assurance supervisors, marketing managers, food safety testing methods, equipment and service providers as well as anyone interested in food safety testing would find this presentation very useful and relevant to their day-to-day activities.

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