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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.


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.

How to Apply Process-based Analytics to Audit Results

On August 1, John Surak and Jeff Cawley presented “Applying Process-based Analytics to Audit Results for Process Management and Improvement” at the International Association for Food Protection Annual Meeting. The Slide deck is attached

Operational audits and inspections play a critical role in assuring the effectiveness of the Food Safety Management System (FSMS).  To realize the maximum value and effectiveness for process management and improvement, key process indicators should be identified and plotted on control charts.  The control charts can then be assessed for trends, so actions can be taken before a food safety incident occurs. 

The proper linkage and operation of the FSMS components enables successful certification audits and gives confidence to Senior Management and other stakeholders that the plant has a robust food safety management system in place.  By applying process analytics such as SPC to sanitation data management can continuously monitor the FSMS performance.

Applying Process-based Analytics to Audits

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“).

Ready for the New Food Safety Regulations and Standards?

On March 30, John Surak, Dave Miller, Operations Technologies, and I will present a webinar on the impact of new food safety regulations and the GFSI on your Food Safety Management System. This is part of Pilgrim Software’s ongoing series of industry webinars.  Please join us.

  • New food safety legislation is working its way through the US Congress.
  • The Global Food Safety Initiative is expanding among food retailers.
Is your Food Safety Management System ready to handle these requirements?
On Tuesday March 30, 2010, 11 AM EST, three industry experts will explain what it takes to be ready for the new regulations and standards.
  • John G. Surak, PhD – Food Scientist, Consultant, lead US delegate to ISO22000.
  • Jeffery L. Cawley – Founder & VP, Market Development, Northwest Analytical, Inc.
  • David Miller – Founder & President, Operations Technologies
Food processors now face the need to implement a modern Food Safety Management System (FSMS). Both the pending US food safety legislation now working through Congress and the increasing commercial requirement of Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) compliance will place food safety and traceability management demands that will overwhelm any paper-based, non-integrated 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.

Webinar – ISO 22000 Compliant Food Safety Systems


Jeff Cawley will speak in the webinar, ISO 22000 Compliant Food Safety Systems , Tuesday, April 7, 2009 11:00 am EDT. The seminar is part of the Pilgrim Software Enterprise Compliance and Quality Management series and will discuss the role of Food Safety Systems such as NWA eHACCP in meeting the ISO 22000 standard.


The presentation will examine the ISO 22000 standard and the role of standard commercial software in implementing a compliant food safety management system (FSMS). ISO 22000 is a linked standard and the FSMS is the enabling system architecture. The standard describes a FSMS that is not simply a records archive, but rather an active process management tool.

The webinar will describe the strategy of system creation and maintenance to manage the operational aspects of prerequisite and HACCP programs, ingredient and product genealogy, and quality management with the necessary alerts and analytics to support truly intelligent process management and improvement. The session will also discuss how the FSMS links with other corporate functions such as supply chain management.

ISO 22000 Compliant Food Safety Systems will address these frequently asked questions:

– What are the components of the FSMS specified in ISO 22000?
– What is feasible to automate in programs such as Prequisite conditions and HACCP management?
– Which functions are handled by standard software modules and where is customization required?
– What is the role of active process alerts and analytics for effective food safety management and improvement?
– How is the FSMS operationally integrated with other enterprise computing



Registration  form


IFT Quality Assurance Division Symposia at Annual Meeting

The IFT Quality Assurance Division will present the following symposia at the IFT annual meeting in Chicago July 29 – 31.

Session 113 – Taking the pulse of QA and food safety training: Improving the health of your programs

Employees are absolutely critical to ensuring the implementation of food safety and quality assurance programs. Effective training programs can improve compliance to and success of these programs and reduce employee turnover leading to improved productivity, reduced recalls, rework and error rates. Unfortunately in many companies, food safety and quality training programs may be a little anemic due to stretched personnel resources, limited funding, lack of awareness of best practices and time challenges. In addition to ensuring employees understand food products and complex processes, food safety/QA training programs must also support multiple languages and cultures reflecting today’s diverse workforce, effectively utilize new learning management tools and Internet technologies, and link training to key business metrics to demonstrate a return on investment. The challenge is also compounded because food scientists by education and profession, may have limited awareness of training processes and standards used by human resources professionals. In this symposium, speakers will share the latest information on strategic approaches for conducting QA/FS training assessments, best practices for adopting and rolling out innovative technologies company-wide, recommendations for linking training to performance programs, developing training that targets specific, critical job functions and the value of allowing employee groups to create their own annual quality and food safety training programs. Speakers will provide case studies of their employee training programs. The sessions will incorporate dynamic visual training elements and learning technology to demonstrate the value in conveying information. Attendees will participate and respond to questions with interactive learning devices. After the speakers present, the moderators will facilitate a 30-minute Q&A panel discussion to allow the attendees to gain in depth information.



Moderators: Sid Jhaveri, Starbucks Coffee Company, Seattle, WA
CJ Reynolds, Silliker, Homewood, IL



113-01/Monday, 2:05 p.m. – 2:20 p.m.–Assessing your plant’s QA and food safety training capabilities and programs–D. Morton: PepsiCo Beverages & Food

113-02/Monday, 2:20 p.m. – 2:35 p.m.–Putting training in employee’s hands: A low tech approach–M. Crawford: Jones Dairy Farm

113-03/Monday, 2:35 p.m. – 2:50 p.m.–Achieving profit and quality goals with effective, interactive training and documentation–L. Young: Petaluma Poultry


113-04/Monday, 2:50 p.m. – 3:05 p.m.–Trends in training: Insights from effective programs–C. J. Reynolds: Silliker








Session 158 Taking safety and quality systems into the 21st century developing systematic thinking on how to do process audits




Defining and developing food safety and quality systems have become more formalized since the first HACCP programs. More sophisticated safety and quality requirements demand an informed three-part process which involves prerequisite programs, customer requirements and enabling management systems.



Moderators: Jeffery L Cawley, Northwest Analytical Inc.,
John G Surak, Clemson University, Clemson, SC




158-01/Tuesday, 8:35 a.m. – 9:05 a.m.–Prerequisite programs: The foundation of successful food safety systems–R. F. Stier: Consulting Food Scientists


158-02/Tuesday, 9:05 a.m. – 9:35 a.m.–Ensuring supply chain performance–J. G. Surak: Surak & Associates


158-03/Tuesday, 9:35 a.m. – 10:05 a.m.–Implementing next-generation food safety and quality management systems–J. Cawley: Northwest Analytical, Inc.