Tag Archives: SafetyChain

Melanie Neumann, Neumann Risk Services

Risk Mitigation and Compliance Management Strategies – Tightly Intertwined but Very Different!

Melanie Neumann, Neumann Risk Services

Melanie Neumann of Neumann Risk Services, LLC, (NRS) a global food safety and compliance law firm shares her thoughts on the similarities and differences of risk mitigation and compliance management, as well as the year ahead and what companies should be focusing on with regard to these key risk management topics.

Q.  Risk Mitigation and Compliance Management are often grouped together – in your view what is the key distinction between the two?

A.  The two are very much linked and very much codependent yet they are separate topics that need to be identified, implemented and managed differently.  Independent strategies need to be put together that are different, separate and apart based upon a company’s strategy and risk tolerance.  [more]

Q. What risk mitigation approach is most realistic, and typically deployed by the food & beverage industry?

A.  With risk management, there are 4 types of risk mitigation strategies that are typical. I’ll break down to how you can manage risk very simply – 1) avoid it, 2) limit it, 3) transfer it, and 4) if you can’t do any of these 3, you can accept it.  [more]

Q.  How does your risk management strategy tie into compliance management?

A. Tying it together, risk management identifies the risk, and establishes a way to manage that risk appropriately. Compliance management is assessing whether the process of managing that risk is actually working the way you intended it, and is meeting laws or regulatory requirements if there are any that apply.  [more]

Q.  What are some of the key risk mitigation and compliance management considerations and initiatives companies should be thinking about in 2017?

A.  As companies continue to develop and execute upon their risk mitigation and compliance management strategies – they should be focusing on: 1- Showing your work; and 2 – leveraging your data for positive outcomes.  [more]

Q. Any parting thoughts on what you’ve shared today?

A. Right now, frankly, the stakes are higher than ever.  Liability concerns are greater than ever, too.  “knowledge” is being imputed on companies more than ever before for food safety issues that occurred in the past and rear its head again in the future.  [more]

Learn how SafetyChain’s solutions can help you more effectively reduce risk and ensure program compliance – www.SafetyChain.com

Jill Bender, SafetyChain

GFSI in the Age of FSMA Series Helps Companies Prepare for FSMA Compliance

By Jill Bender
No Comments
Jill Bender, SafetyChain

The “GFSI in the Age of FSMA” three-part series wrapped up in early December, providing the food safety community insight on how leading GFSI schemes align with, and help prepare for, compliance with FSMA.  The series was presented by SafetyChain with media partner FoodSafetyTech.

Each GFSI scheme leader from SQF, BRC and FSSC 22000 discussed how their schemes align with FSMA in several key areas, including Supply Chain Controls, migrating Food Safety Plans from HACCP to HARPC, and audit readiness. While each scheme leader provided insights and details on how their scheme aligns with FSMA, common key themes across all three sessions included: 

  • FSMA’s focus on prevention vs. reaction is similar and aligns with GFSI’s objectives; Scheme certifications and ongoing compliance is centered around continuously assessing risks and putting preventive measures in place to mitigate those risks
  • GFSI’s global approach surrounding a company’s food safety program—to ensure better supply chain controls internally, upstream and downstream prepares companies to manage FSMA’s increased focus on both domestic and foreign supplier compliance
  • GFSI stringent documentation and recordkeeping requirements—along with unannounced audit protocols—are a strong foundation to help food and beverage companies prepare for FSMA’s “if it isn’t documented you didn’t do it” mantra

The GFSI scheme leaders also spoke about the importance and opportunity companies have to leverage technology tools to help more effectively manage the complexities and requirements of GFSI and FSMA compliance.  Series participants were able to see an example of how these automation tools work and the impact they can have on managing a robust food safety program via a post session demo of SafetyChain Software.

Archived recordings of all three sessions—SQF in the Age of FSMA, featuring Robert Garfield, Senior VP, SQF; BRC in the Age of FSMA, featuring John Kukoly, Director, BRC Americas; and FSSC 22000 in the Age of FSMA, featuring Jacqueline Southee, U.S. Liaison, FSSC 22000—are available and can be accessed here.

Barbara Levin, SVP of Marketing & Customer Community, SafetyChain Software

SafetyChain Software Wraps 2015 Food Safety & Quality Enabling Technologies Series with More Than 2,000 Participants

By Barbara Levin
No Comments
Barbara Levin, SVP of Marketing & Customer Community, SafetyChain Software

SafetyChain Software recently announced the successful wrap-up of its online series, “FSQA Enabling Technologies – the Food Safety & Quality Assurance Game Changer.” Kicked off in January of 2015 and ending this past October, the series attracted more than 2,000 participants.

Known for offering a wide variety of complimentary online FSQA thought leadership events to the food industry – including its FSMA Fridays and GFSI in the Age of FSMA series – SafetyChain introduced the Enabling Technologies series to begin an important dialogue on the role of emerging technologies in managing key challenges faced by today’s food and beverage companies.

The complimentary series, which featured Leadership Forums, Tech Talks and eBriefs – many featuring recognized industry thought leaders as well as SafetyChain experts – is now available on-demand.

  • Series topics included:
  • Leveraging Technology for Best-in-Class Food Safety & Quality Operations
  • Tackling FSMA Compliance
  • Understanding and Managing Cost of Quality
  • Unleashing the Power of the Cloud on Food Safety & Quality
  • Conquering HACCP, HARPC and Food Safety Program Management
  • Tackling Food Safety Audits
  • The Critical Role of Technology on Today’s Food Safety and Quality Operations
  • FSQA on the Go – the Power of Food Safety & Quality Automation Mobile Applications

Dr. David Acheson, president of The Acheson Group and former Chief Medical Officer for USDA and Associate Commissioner for Foods at FDA – who kicked off the series with a leadership forum on Food Safety Risk Management and Supply Chain Controls, which also featured Nancy Wilson, Director of Quality Assurance, Risk and Safety for Wawa – commented, “With today’s global, complex food supply chain – and increasing regulatory requirements such as FDA’s FSMA – it is becoming increasingly difficult to manage risk while meeting operational KPIs using manual FSQA management systems.” Acheson continued, “There’s an important role for enabling technologies to increase operational efficiencies while sending safer food into commerce, and this was an important series to bring the food safety community into the discussion.”

Added Jill Bender, Vice President of Marketing Communications for SafetyChain, “SafetyChain is a recognized leader in offering online forums that provide insights, and facilitate discussions, on how the industry addresses challenges in sending safe, quality food into commerce – with more than 20,000 registrants for our events.  Deploying enabling automation technologies has become a vital strategy for improving FSQA, creating ROI and protecting brand from risk – and we wanted to promote meaningful dialogue on the impact of technology on key food safety and quality issues. We’re delighted that more than 2,000 safety, quality and operations professionals joined the conversation.”

Series Now Available On-Demand

To access the series’ complimentary Leadership Forums, Tech Talks and eBriefs, visit: www.safetychain.com/2015techseries

Robert Garfield, Senior Vice President of the Safe Quality Food Institute

How Does SQF Certification Prepare You for Better FSMA Compliance?

By Food Safety Tech Staff
No Comments
Robert Garfield, Senior Vice President of the Safe Quality Food Institute

“Over a period of time, things have changed for the corner suite, and many CEOs and presidents of corporations understand that with the media today and the way that FDA has improved its ability to focus on contamination, something needed to happen,” said Robert Garfield, senior vice president at SQFI during the recent “SQF in the Age of FSMA” webinar. “It’s not everything that we wanted…but it’s a rule that brings the regulations up to where they need to be in this century.”

GFSI leaders will be available during the Food Safety Consortium conference. On Wednesday, November 18, don’t miss the session, “The Role of Technology in Ensuring Accessible, Actionable Data to Tackle FSMA Compliance”. LEARN MOREGarfield discussed the role of SQF certification in FSMA compliance during part one of the 2015 GFSI Leadership webcast series. Hot topics included:

  • Foreign supplier verification program alignment
  • Building a food safety plan, including HACCP to HARPC migration
  • Being audit ready and record keeping requirements
  • Environmental monitoring
  • “Farm-to-fork” and safety controls
  • SQF scheme changes to align with FSMA
  • How SQF fills in the gaps in FSMA requirements

The next webinar takes place Friday, October 30 and covers the alignment of BRC certification with FSMA. John Kukoly, director of BRC Americas, is the featured speaker. Register here for the complimentary webinar.

Mobile FSQA apps

Are Mobile Apps a Game Changer for Food Safety Professionals?

By Maria Fontanazza
No Comments
Mobile FSQA apps

Many food safety and quality assurance (FSQA) professionals are constantly on the go in the workplace. They can be found on the floor of a manufacturing facility, off-site conducting supplier audits, or out in the field performing pre-harvest inspections, just to name a few locations during their busy day. “To benefit from food safety automation, these folks need more than the capability of logging into a system through a desktop,” says Levin. “They need a true mobile app that provides automation support out in the field,” says Barbara Levin, senior vice president of marketing and customer community at SafetyChain.

While other industries have been quick to adopt mobile platforms, the food safety industry has been much slower. Adoption is, however, gaining traction. In a recent conversation with Food Safety Tech, Levin talks about the value of FSQA mobile apps in today’s environment, where access to real-time, actionable data is crucial for the food industry.

Food Safety Tech: What common challenges faced by FSQA teams do mobile apps specifically address?

Barbara Levin: Mobile apps allow collection of FSQA at the point of origin, along with immediate access to the information for analysis, CAPA and reporting:

  1. Getting timely feedback on non-compliances for CAPA. When FSQA data is inspected at the end of the shift on paper, finding non-conformances often means rework. The instances in which this happens are too numerous to count. With mobile apps, you receive timely feedback. Information in the system is immediately analyzed to specs, so you’re catching non-compliances at the earliest point possible.
  2. Consistency in following your FSQA programs. This could be your USDA HACCP plan, FSMA HARPC plan, GFSI program, customer quality attributes and other components of your FSQA programs. Program components change all the time (i.e., Specifications, processes, rules in HACCP, GFSI code, forms, workflow, etc). Are FSQA managers confident that everyone is following the most up-to-date program? Is everyone following the workflow and doing everything in the right order? Are they completing tasks accurately? Using the right forms? Unfortunately companies find out that steps are missed or outdated forms were used during an audit; or when missed steps result in expensive rework or in the worst case, a customer rejection, withdrawal or a recall.

    Mobile apps will always have the most up-to-date forms, processes, specs and more. They act as a coach, leading the FSQA team member through the proper steps. When you enter incorrect or incomplete information on paper, it may not be detected until the end of the day or shift. A mobile app will issue an alert if incorrect information is entered; and it won’t let you submit a form if all fields aren’t complete. Because all of the updates are made in the system and pushed out to the app, if the specification changes while an FSQA team member is on the plant floor, when he or she logs in, the latest spec will always be there. You’re ensured that only the up-to-date program is being followed and that only the most up-to-date forms are being used.

  3. A lack of information for continuous improvement trending. If you have multiple facilities and products (resulting in mountains of FSQA paper), it’s a huge, manual task to make all of the data useful and relevant. With mobile apps, all FSQA data is entered “once and done,” making it accessible and actionable for immediate FSQA result tracking, daily KPI reporting and continuous improvement.
  4. Audit readiness. Mobile apps take audit readiness to a different level. With FSMA and GFSI, the saying is, if it’s not documented, you didn’t do it. By collecting FSQA data at the point of origin, all data is time and data stamped and uploaded to your permanent FSQA record. There’s no redundant data entry, mistakes are avoided, and there’s greater record efficacy that helps companies be audit ready, on demand.
Mobile FSQA apps
Mobile forms capture safety and quality data at the point of origin; data is actionable and then uploaded into a central repository for reporting and audit readiness. Image courtesy of SafetyChain Software. (Click to enlarge)

FST: What is the biggest benefit that FSQA mobile apps offer? 

Levin: The first benefit is real-time feedback. If you think about how things were done in the past, using an example of a pre-harvest inspection, you’re out there with a clipboard, making observations and recording non-compliances. Then you have to go back and enter the information into a spreadsheet, or turn it into a PDF, and send it to the food safety manager, who may or may not be sitting at his or her desk. Waiting to get a response equals time lost. And in the food industry, time equals money.

When you’re entering information into a mobile app, it analyzes that information in real-time and according to specifications. When there are non-compliances, alerts are pushed to the FSQA manager – wherever [he or she is located]. The manager can then generate a CAPA, which can then be completed, documented on the mobile device and electronically signed off by the manager. The process is expedited, and expensive rework is avoided.  

The second benefit involves data efficiencies. When data is collected on a mobile device, it’s entered only once and is then immediately available for multiple uses, such as a customer’s certificate of analysis, attachment to GFSI code for audit, or to be produced upon demand for a regulatory inspector. With a manual system, there’s a tremendous amount of redundant data entry. We hear this all the time from food safety folks— that they feel like they’re managing paper instead of food safety programs. When data is entered into a mobile app, it’s accessible immediately to FSQA, operations, vendor purchasing, management – any stakeholder who has a need.

“The Power of FSQA Automation Via Mobile Applications” Download the whitepaperFST: What approach should be taken to encourage the investment in and implementation of an on-the-go FSQA mobile platform?

Levin: I would love to think that in an ideal world, the creation of operational efficiencies that enable a higher level of confidence that you are sending out safer food is enough. Food companies are businesses, and they have obligations to consumers, which they take very seriously. But they also have obligations to their shareholders. When we talk to folks who really want this, it’s very easy to create a business case to senior management based on ROI. When you can close the gap by hours and days in the food industry, that time equals money. Avoiding rework also saves money.  And there’s ROI in faster sales throughput and increased shelf life by reducing hold and release times. We’ve heard from our customers that the solutions have paid for themselves and started to create ROI within three to six months.

How GFSI Schemes Align With FSMA Compliance

By Food Safety Tech Staff
No Comments

With publication of the first set of final rules for FDA’s Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) expected any day now, food safety teams are busy strategizing as to how they are going to prepare for compliance and be “FSMA-ready” on Day 1.

Across industry, it is generally agreed that being certified to a GFSI scheme is a solid foundation for FSMA compliance. In a new three-part online series,  “GFSI in the Age of FSMA: How GFSI Schemes Align With and Prepare You for FSMA”, the North American leaders of the three major GFSI schemes – SQF, BRC and FSSC 22000 – will discuss the following topics:

  • How certification to their scheme prepares a company for FSMA compliance in terms of alignment with:
    • Supplier Controls
    • Building a food safety plan
    • Migrating from HACCP to HARPC
    • Being audit ready all the time
    • Environmental monitoring … human & animal food rules … and much more
  • What changes to the scheme have been made (or are planned) to better align with FSMA
  • Gaps the leaders see in FSMA that are filled by their scheme
  • What companies who are, or plan to be, GFSI certified should be doing now for Day 1 FSMA compliance

The series, which launches September 25 is complimentary. Learn more and register at: http://www.safetychain.com/GFSI-Webinar-Series

SafetyChain webinar series
(left to right) John Kukoly of BRC, Jacqueline Southee of FSSC 22000, and Robert Garfield of SQFI are the featured speakers of the GFSI series.

Food company teams working in Regulatory, Food Safety & Quality Assurance, Operations, C-Suite, Legal and other related positions in companies who are – or are planning to become – certified in a GFSI scheme are encouraged to attend one, two or all three sessions.

The series is being sponsored by SafetyChain Software with media partner Food Safety Tech.

HACCP and HARPC Plan Management Demands Automation

By Food Safety Tech Staff
No Comments

Manual management of HACCP and HARPC plans is often a resource-intensive and inefficient process that can create a data rich vs. information poor sentiment. Next week Dan Bernkopf, vice president of food safety applications at SafetyChain, will share insights on how companies can use automation to help assess risks to effectively create critical control points and preventive controls, during a webinar, “Conquering HACCP/HARPC Plan Management: The Power of Automation”. He will also share insights to help companies learn how automation can ensure that HACCP and HARPC plan components are scheduled, monitored and documented.

How else can automation help companies with their HACCP and HARPC plans?

  • Provide real-time non-conformance reports for CAPAs, minimizing waste and rework
  • Leverage mobile technology to collect food safety data at the source
  • Conduct meaningful trend analysis for continuous improvement with accessible, actionable data
  • Be audit ready for USDA, FDA and customer inquiries

Register for “Conquering HACCP/HARPC Plan Management: The Power of Automation
Thursday, August 6
1 pm ET / 10 am PDT
The webinar is part of SafetyChain’s FSQA Tech Talk series

Unleashing the power of the cloud on Food Safety and Food Quality

By Food Safety Tech Staff
No Comments

SafetyChain’s FSQA Tech Talk conversation continues next week with a discussion on why cloud and mobile technologies are becoming a game changer for food safety and quality assurance (FSQA).

As part of an ongoing series that focuses on how technology is being leveraged to solve FSQA execution challenges, the next FSQA Tech Talk session’s special guest speaker will be Michele Eddy, Corporate QA Manager with UniSea.  Eddy will be sharing her experience and insight as to how realtime FSQA data, which is  available, anywhere, and at anytime, is helping to provide sales with immediate quality gradings, better manage HACCP, CAPA, and direct observations for UniSea’s pillars of sanitation,  and how the cloud is making it easier for participants in their supply chain to work together.  Eddy will also discuss use and employee adoption of mobile devices.

The session will start with SafetyChain’s Director of Technical Solutions who will discuss key benefits of the cloud on FSQA, including the ability to have realtime data proactively pushed out and acted upon,  as well as how cloud and mobile devices support FSQA transparency and visibility across the value chain. Also discussed will be common cloud misperceptions including security and employee adoption.

The speakers will be taking questions live from the audience, and FSQA attendees are encouraged to bring their IT folks to participate. Attendees who would like to see what the cloud and mobile FSQA apps look like in action, are invited to stay online after the Tech Talk for a 15 minute demo of SafetyChain’s cloud and mobile solutions. The session is being held on Tuesday, May 19 at 10:00 am PDT, and those interested in attending can visit here for more information and to register.

The FSQA Tech Talks are a part of SafetyChain’s 2015 FSQA Technology Series: “Enabling Technologies – The Food Safety & Quality Assurance Game Changer” – which includes Leadership Forums, FSQA Tech Talks and Executive Briefs. Jill Bender, SafetyChain Vice President of Marketing Communications, said, “SafetyChain has been very proactive these past several years in educating industry on key FSQA challenges such as FSMA, GFSI, cost of quality and more. Input from the thousands of people who have attended our webinar forums was that they’d also like to learn more about how their peer companies are leveraging technology to execute on these challenges – and so the 2015 FSQA Technology Series was born!” “So far more than 1,500 hundred FSQA and food company IT folks have participated in the series, and we’re very excited to continue with fabulous speakers such as Michele Eddy,” Bender continued.

To learn more about SafetyChain’s FSQA Technology series visit www.safetychain.com/2015techseries.

Upcoming FSQA Tech Talks Include:
June 23: Harnessing Cost of Quality
July 21: Conquering HACCP, HARPC and Food Safety Plan Management
Participants of this series need only sign-up once and will automatically receive notice of the next topic and login/call information.  Register here for this complimentary series.

SCS Global's Sr. Technical Director and Auditor Heena Patel

What’s a Successful Food Safety Audit?

By Sangita Viswanathan
No Comments
SCS Global's Sr. Technical Director and Auditor Heena Patel

Audits and being prepared, and audit-ready are becoming increasingly important in the food safety world as the industry is moving to compliance with rules proposed under Food Safety Modernization Act. In this Q&A, from a webinar hosted bySafetyChain Software, and SCS Global Services, Heena Patel, SCS Global’s Senior Technical Director and Auditor answers some key questions about audits.

Q: What are the 5 top Best practices to follow for successful audits?

Heena Patel: As an auditor myself, I have conducted hundreds of audits. Auditors look for specific things and can make keen observations. They look for confidence, if the audit team on the site is well prepared for the audit or not. So be prepared for the audit. Be confident, follow the audit plan, have key staff present for the opening and closing meetings and for the facility walk through.

Don’t make the auditor wait for you to locate reports and records. Follow the audit plan; the plan is sent to the site ahead of time for a reason. It has details about the audit and what it would involve, and is a very good guideline that can be used to prepare for the audit by getting ready all the necessary reports and records.

Conduct mock internal audit to prepare for the final audit. Internal audits can help you prepare for any surprises. Use the information for the internal audit to answer questions during the actual audit.

Senior management must be prepared to show commitment and support for the food safety team. This matters a lot to the auditors.

And finally, feed your auditor well. It’s not a good idea to have a grumpy auditor.

Q: What are the biggest ‘No-Nos’ leading to deductions?

Patel: I would list the following items that lead to deductions:

  • Lack of management commitment and lack of team work;
  • Being unorganized and unprepared;
  • Not following and/ or not understanding code requirements; and
  • Not fully answering auditors’ questions.

Having incompetent team and incomplete documentation reveals the company not having the necessary training, or professionally trained personnel in-house. Having pre-requisite programs in place is huge in the audit checklist and this covers aspects such as sanitation practices, mock recalls, allergen management, training, testing, etc. We also look for business continuity plans, and management reviews. At SCS Global, we use a matrix with all this information to see what has been addressed well during the audit.

Q: What do auditors look for in demonstrating continuous improvement?

Patel: As an auditor, I love this aspect of an audit. Auditors don’t like to see that the program is not moving forward and is not getting the commitment and resources required from management. They must be focus on investing in employees with training and continuous education programs; and focus on upgrading structures and fixtures throughout the building as needed. Key performance indicators or KPIs must be developed that measure the performance of the food safety and quality program. These must be based on findings of the internal audit, external audit, or recalls etc. It’s also important to trend and evaluate this data during management meetings to see where the program stands and how it can be improved, as part of the continuous improvement program.

Q: How can companies best prepare for unannounced audits?

Patel: Unannounced audits are great from an auditor’s view point, as we can use this to see if the site is truly audit-ready at all times. Often with announced audits, we go in and notice that the floor has been swept well, there are no cobwebs anywhere, everything’s nicely arranged on the shelves etc. But you also realize that the mock recalls has been conducted the day before; the internal audit was conducted two days earlier. And this is not a good sign.

It’s important for food facilities to have a schedule in house in which records based on internal audits/ sanitation programs/ mock recalls etc. can be updated on a continuous basis. The actual audit should just be used to review and sign off on these records.

How can companies be audit ready at all times? By monitoring all programs continuously; keeping the facility clean at all times; and keeping the paperwork up to date at all times.

Q: How can automation/ technology facilitate audit readiness?

Patel: Many years ago when I used to audit food facilities, there were no automation systems in place. Auditors were using hard copies and paper checklists. Now, automation has made the entire process more efficient and communication friendly. Automation can help prepare audit plans, schedule tasks and assign food safety personnel to different parts of the program; have a centralized repository for records and data; work with Certified Bodies and suppliers who can all see information in one place; report non-conformances; put in place due dates for suppliers and auditors to either confirm or reject actions; have records on who conducted the audit, all non-conformances, all corrective actions etc. Having automation technology helps save on all the paper work involved in managing a food safety program and preparing for an audit.

To sum up, automation can:

  • Provide greater records efficacy;
  • Make it easier to communicate with your auditor when on-site and pre-/post audit;
  • Incorporate automated reminders to help food safety managers and auditors meet required deadlines; and
  • Save time preparing for your audit by automating record keeping.

Get more insights into the auditor’s point of view as Heena Patel answers more questions on this topic. Click here to access the recorded webinar