Audits & Analytics – Know for Sure

Emily Sohn’s column Peanut Butter’s Checkered Food Safety History chronicles the recent history and scope of bacterial contamination and recalls focusing on four food products – peanut butter, cantaloupe, ground beef and spinach.  Each food stuff has its particular problems be it the rough rind on cantaloupe or the multiple animal sources of ground beef plus their own favorite pathogen problems with Salmonella, E. coli or Listeria.

She rightly points to the large scale extended and complicated food supply chain as a major contributor to the outbreak problems we face in today’s food market. Our experience suggests that best first line defense is the current Food Safety Management System model contained in standards and regulations such as ISO 22000, the Food Safety Modernization Act and the Global Food Safety Initiative.

These depend on a well defined system bolstered by analytics and real-time role specific reporting for timely and well informed decision making. This is summarized by a three step program:

  • Know your production and quality systems
  • Know your supply chain
  • Know for sure – verify with audits and use analytics to get maximum results from audits.

In our direct experience we have observed that integrating HACCP programs and SPC improves food safety results and in the case of ground beef purchase by the National School Lunch Program results in supply chains that delivered ground beef that never tested positive for the pathogens monitored. We also believe the additional step of extracting actionable information from audits with analytics helps maximize the food safety outcome.

Will these strategies eliminate all possibility of food safety events? No. Will they give us the best chance of a good outcome? Yes.

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Analyze the Audits for Better Compliance

Swabbing floor drainJohn Surak gave his webinar, “Applying Process-based Analytics to Audit Results for Process Management and Improvement” yesterday. The recorded presentation is now available for you   and the slide deck is available at SlideShare

An important takeaway is that using analytics on the audit findings and applying the results to your continuous improvement program is an excellent way to strengthen your FSMS. This implies better performance on subsequent audits and improved compliance with GFSI and ISO 22000 standards.

Can You Help With Audit Analytics Case Studies?

ISO 22000 requires the analysis of results of verification activities, and SQF and BRC require annual validation of the Food Safety Management System.  The analysis of the data for either of these two activities can be easily done using SPC. 

John Surak and I presented a poster on this topic at the IAFP annual meeting this summer (http://slidesha.re/uBnW1i  ) and John will present a webinar on the topic, “Applying Process-based Analytics to Audit Results for Process Management and Improvement” on December 15, 2011 ( http://www.nwasoft.com/resources/webinars/applying-process-based-analytics-audit-results-process-management-and-improvement ) .

We are looking for additional data which to develop case studies which demonstrate the power of SPC based analytics in conducting verification activities in the food industry. If you wish to participate in the project contact John Surak at jgsurak@yahoo.com or Jeffery Cawley at jcawley@nwasoft.com.

Audit Analytics

audit analytics - swab sampleThe data gathered from food safety operational audits and inspections frequently goes no further than the summary report. The process information contained in this data can and should be used in continuous improvement programs.

On August 1, Dr. John Surak, Surak Associates, and Jeffery Cawley, NWA, will present “Applying Process-based Analytics to Audit Results for Process Management and Improvement” at the 2011 Annual Meeting of the International Association for Food Protection in Milwaukie, WI. The authors will be available for discussion at poster session P1-138 from 2:00 PM to 3:30 PM and 5:00 PM to 6:00 PM.

The presentation will examine how applying process analytics such as SPC to sanitation data provides more effective monitoring of the Food Safety Management System (FSMS) performance. This method also enables effective improvement of FSMS compliance capabilities.

The presentation is the latest in a series of studies on improving food safety by applying SPC and process improvement methods which began with the 1998 article, “Integrating HACCP and SPC”  and continued with such projects as ground beef purchase for the National School Lunch program (see Feast or Famine, “Food Safety in the Supply Chain“).

How Should Packaging Be Addressed in Your Food Safety Program?

The role of packaging in food safety systems and audits seems to be a current front and center issue.  This is probably the result of  food processers working down the list to packaging venders during the last year as they work through their supply chain and what they need for their own GFSI audits.

Rick Stier has contributed to the discussion with his article in the April/May issue of Food Safety Magazine, “How Should Packaging Be Addressed in your Food Safety Program?”   A good comprehensive and pragmatic article.

Convergence – Industry Standards and Government Regulations

“The Food Safety Modernization Act’s preventive approach to food safety may seem obvious in hindsight – and it is already a food industry norm, FDA’s deputy commissioner for foods said on Thursday.” Food Navigator 20-May-2011

 
Industry standards (ISO 22000, GFSI) and government regulations such as the Food Safety Modernization Act all have at their core an auditable HACCP-based Food Safety Management system. Much of the kvetching about FSMA in the popular press has missed the point that the convergence of regulation and good industry practice is a done deal and that all parties recognize that “science based” systems are the best way to maximize food safety.
 
You can view a summary of our webinars on this topic at http://bit.ly/jiUR8t .

Food Safety Audits for Food Container Manufacturers- Recorded Webinar

Major food retailers require food processors to certify their food safety management systems under Global Food Safety Initiative recognized audits. This increasingly has led food processors to extend food safety audit demands to their vendors and require their packaging suppliers to demonstrate viable audited HACCP programs.

How can packaging vendors comply? On March 29, Allen Sayler, VP of Food Safety, Technology & Regulatory Solutions at H. Randolph Associates, Inc.,  discussed GFSI audit schemas and SQF in particular as they pertain to plastic and paperboard food container manufacturing. The presentation topics include:

  • HACCP – Applicability to the Food Packaging Industry
  • GFSI – Concept for the Future
  • SQF
    • The Whys for the Food Packaging Industry
    • Technical Implementation Details for the Food Packaging Industry
    • Food Safety – Due Diligence for the Food Packaging Industry

The slides and the recorded presentation are available at: http://www.nwasoft.com/PACKwebinar1.htm .