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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.

Food Safety Webinar – How to Apply Analytics to Audits for Process Improvement

On Thursday December 15 at 11 AM PST, 2 PM PST, John Surak will present the webinr, “Applying Process-based Analytics to Audit Results for Process Management and Improvement” .

Operational audits and inspections play a critical role in assuring the effectiveness of the Food Safety Management System (FSMS). But that’s merely Step One.

Step Two and beyond involve leveraging the results from these audits to maximize value and effectiveness for process management and improvement by identifying the key process indicators, assessing them for trends, and taking action before a food-safety incident occurs. 

How to Use Audits for Process Improvement

The proper linkage and operation of the FSMS components enables successful certification audits. Additionally, it bolsters the view by Senior Management and other stakeholders that the plant has a robust food-safety management system in place.  By applying process-based analytics, management can continuously monitor the FSMS performance, improve compliance and reduce risk to the company.

The webinar will examine the data available in audits and pre-requisite program inspections and how applying analytics such as SPC can extract useful process management information. This method provides actionable feedback on the manufacturing processes and establishes a solid foundation for process management and continuous improvement. You can change audits from an unpleasant necessity to a positive contributor to your performance and bottom line.

Register now.

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.

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 .

Symposium Explores the Impact of New Food Safety Regulations and the Global Food Safety Initiative on Food Processors

Portland, Oregon (June 07, 2010) – New food safety regulations moving through the U.S. Congress, combined with the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI), demand greater safety management by food processors. At the 2010 Institute of Food Technologists Annual Meeting, Symposium 171, “The Operational Implications of New Food Safety Regulations and GFSI” will explore the issue. The Symposium will be presented Monday, July 19, 2010, at 1:30 PM – 3:00 PM, in room S404 in Chicago’s McCormick Place.

Food processors now face the need to implement a modern Food Safety Management System (FSMS). Both the pending U.S. food safety legislation now in Congress, and the commercial requirements of GFSI compliance, create food safety and traceability management demands that overwhelm any paper-based, non-automated system.  The cost-effective and time-efficient way to meet these requirements is an integrated electronic system that automates the operational functions of food safety and quality management, traceability and compliance. Not only does this approach make a compliant FSMS more efficient and effective, it also reduces corporate risk and total cost of ownership.

The symposium contains four presentations by industry experts:

  • 171-01. Increasing Verification Effectiveness of Prerequisite Programs, John G. Surak, Surak and Associates., Clemson, SC
  • 171-02. Automated HACCP and Quality Management, Jeffery L. Cawley, Northwest Analytical Inc., Portland, OR
  • 171-03. Track and Trace Compliance with Food Safety Regulations, David Miller, Operations Technologies, Greenville, SC
  • 171-04. Boost Safety and Lower Risk through Effective GFSI and New Safety Regulations Record Management, Deborah Kacera, Pilgrim Software, Inc., Tampa, FL

A preliminary form of this session, “Implementing Food Safety Management Systems to Meet Regulations and GFSI Standards,” was presented March 30, 2010, as part of Pilgrim Software’s Educational Webinar Series for 2010. The recorded webcast and presentations are available at: http://bit.ly/c3LHbL .

About Surak and Associates

John Surak is principal of Surak and Associates, a full service food safety and quality consulting service. He works with the food processing industry in developing food safety and quality management systems, designing and implementing process control systems, and implementing Six Sigma and business analytics systems. http://www.stratecon-intl.com/jsurak.html

 About Northwest Analytical

Northwest Analytical is the leading provider of quality and food safety management systems and SPC software to the food industry. With the NWA Quality Information System, food processors successfully handle applications ranging from HACCP program management to fill weight control and process improvement. NWA Quality software enables food companies to produce higher-quality, safer products while maximizing efficiency and profitability. Additional information is available at www.nwasoft.com/appnotes/ind-food.htm.

About Operations Technologies
Operations Technologies provides inventory, production, and “track& trace” management software to the food and pharmaceutical industries. The software is highly configurable, expandable and easily integrated into standard ERP and Accounting systems. Operations Technologies’ products can be “self hosted” or provided as Cloud (SaaS) Internet based subscription software services. Core functionality includes warehouse management, production management, traceability, shop floor interfaces and distributed labeling systems. Customers include a cadre of large and small industry leaders such as Cargill, Dairi Concepts, Dairy Farmers of America (Borden’s), Nestle, Organic Valley and Roche Pharmaceuticals. For more information, visit the company online at www.MobiaSolutions.com .

About Pilgrim Software

Pilgrim Software is a world-leading provider of Enterprise Quality, Safety and Compliance Management solutions for the Food & Beverage, Life Sciences, and other FDA-regulated industries. Pilgrim has pioneered effective, integrated software solutions used by more than 300 customers globally, and more than 750,000 end users, to meet the diverse challenges of the world’s highly competitive marketplace.  Pilgrim’s fully web-based solutions, built on industry best practices, help businesses centrally manage domestic and international operations to ensure product safety and quality, reduce manufacturing costs and improve customer satisfaction.  www.pilgrimsoftware.com

For further information, contact:

Jeffery Cawley, VP Market Development
Northwest Analytical, Inc.
888-692-7638 or 503-224-7727 X112

Process Control Verification – Making Sure Your FSMS is Working

Rick Stier and John Surak have published “Process Control Verification – Making Sure Your Food Safety Management System is Working” in the April/May 2010 issue of Food Safety Magazine. The article explains the elements and process of FSMS verification.

“Principle 6, Verification, as defined in the harmonized Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) principles from Codex Alimentarius[1] and the National Advisory Committee for Microbiological Criteria for Foods (NACMCF),[2,3] may be the most complicated HACCP principle. From audits that we have conducted, this is the one principle that many companies do not quite seem to grasp. Significant gaps in food safety management systems (FSMS) are often found when one examines how different processors define verification activities even among companies with “certified” HACCP plans. ”
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