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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.


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.

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“).

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 .

Webinar – Food Safety Audits for Food Container Manufacturers


During the last year food processing and food service companies have pushed safety management certification up the supply chain to packaging and container manufacturers.  On February 15, 2011, the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) launched a new packaging technical working group to review best practices and define audits in manufacturing food packaging  http://bit.ly/gfsipkg .

In the meantime, packaging manufacturers need to satisfy the supply chain safety certification their customers require. To help clarify the issue and recommend effective action, Allen Sayler, VP of Food Safety, Technology & Regulatory Solutions at H. Randolph Associates, will present the webinar “Food Safety Audits – A Business Advantage Not a Burden” on March 29, 2011.  http://www.nwasoft.com/PACKwebinar1.htm .

About Allen R. Sayler

Mr. Sayler is VP of Food Safety, Technology & Regulatory Solutions at H. Randolph Associates, Inc. (HRAI). HRAI provides technical and management solutions to companies in the areas of Quality Control, Sanitation, Food Safety, Productivity, Shrinkage Control and Preventive Maintenance. Before HRAI, he worked as VP for Regulatory Affairs & International Standards for the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA). His regulatory experience includes posts with the North Dakota Department of Agriculture, the US Food & Drug Administration, and the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service.

GFSI Compliant Food Safety Management Systems Webinars Now Available


Webinars investigate how food processors successfully deploy and use ISO22000 and GFSI compliant systems to enable quality operations and safe food. 

Commercial standards such as the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) and ISO22000 dramatically shape how food processors run their operations.  Implementing a food safety management system compliant with these audits and standards is essential for market success. The Northwest Analytical webinar series, The Compliant FSMS enables food-industry management to design reasonable strategies to comply with these requirements and dependably produce safe food while protecting the company’s brand.

Four webinar recordings are now available:

1. Comprehensive Strategies to Protect Your Brand

David Acheson, M.D., Managing Director Food and Import Safety Practice, Leavitt Partners

Dr. David Acheson began the series with his insights into the food industry regulatory and commercial landscape. In his talk he:

  • Discussed the current pressures and challenges facing the food industry
  • Defined the changes from a regulatory and congressional perspective
  • Discussed the status and implications of pending US food safety legislation
  • Provided insights into future trends
  • Presented a forward looking strategy for brand protection.

2. Building a Corporate Food Safety Culture

John G. Surak, Ph.D., Surak and Associates

Building a culture for food safety starts with top management developing a strong commitment for food safety. In this webinar, Dr. Surak focused on using the elements of ISO 22000 to accomplish the following:

  • Linking the food safety management system to the corporate business system
  • Linking the quality policy to the corporate culture
  • Developing effective food safety objectives
  • Increasing the effectiveness of management review

3. Process Improvement with GFSI Compliant Management Systems

Tatiana A. Lorca, Ph.D., Manager of Food Supply Quality Assurance, EcoSure

Dr. Tatiana Lorca discussed the Global Food Safety Initiative and how their benchmark and recognition process drives improvement and cost efficiency. Topics presented:

  • What is the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI)?
  • How the benchmark and recognition process drives improvement and cost efficiency across the food supply chain
  • How the GFSI requirements incorporate the principles of the Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle into the recognized programs and thus help drive improvement within a certified business
  • Four of the most widely used food safety management systems (SQF, BRC, FSSC and IFS) and their requirements highlighted from a process improvement perspective

4. Increase Food Safety, Reduce Risk, and Achieve Operational Effectiveness and Compliance

Deborah Kacera, Industry Solutions Director, Pilgrim Software

Deborah Kacera discussed how following the process requirements of the GFSI schemes yield analytics that foster growth and compliance and support:

  • Management Reviews
  • Supplier Performance Inputs and Ratings
  • Decision-making based on predictive actionable intelligence
  • Feedback into your Food Product Design and HACCP Plans

All four webinar recordings are available for immediate viewing at: http://www.nwasoft.com/FSMSWebinars.htm .

Webinar – Increase Food Safety, Reduce Risk, and Achieve Operational Effectiveness and Compliance

Tuesday, February 8, 2011, 11 AM PST/2PM EST

Northwest Analytical brings you The Compliant FSMS webinar series to examine how food processors can deal with regulatory and commercial requirements such as ISO 22000 and the GFSI recognized food safety management systems. The series will enable food industry management to design reasonable strategies to deal with these issues and dependably produce safe food while protecting the company’s brand.

Deborah Kacera, Pilgrim Software, will discuss how following the GFSI scheme’s process requirements yield analytics that foster growth and compliance and support:

  • Management Reviews
  • Supplier Performance Inputs and Ratings
  • Decision-making based on predictive actionable intelligence
  • Feedback into your Food Product Design and HACCP Plans

Ms. Kacera is Industry Solutions Director at Pilgrim Software where she Deb Kacerais responsible for the company’s CAPA and Complaints management software products and its applications in the food and pharmaceutical industries.  She determines specifications for product enhancements, new products and third-party product integration.  

Prior to her appointment with Pilgrim, she held positions in manufacturing engineering and management at MTD Technologies, McDonnell Douglas and General Motors. She has wworked with the FDA on development of new CDRH eMDR program, providing input into eMDR document requirements to improve the efficiency of the eMDR submission process.

Registration link –  http://www.nwasoft.com/FSMSWebinar4.htm