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Help! Definition of the phrase "product groups"


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#1 Jason H.Z.C.

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Posted 25 March 2009 - 07:03 AM

Dear all,

I am a Chinese. I am studying IFS standard English version 5. Because English is not my native language, I could not understand exact definitions of some words/phrases in IFS standard v5. Please help me to understand the definition for phrase "product groups" in IFS version 5 and show some instances to help me distinguish what could be incorporated in a product group and what could not be incorporated in it?

Thank you in advance.


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#2 Simon

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Posted 25 March 2009 - 08:37 PM

BUMP for Jason.


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Simon Timperley
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#3 Madam A. D-tor

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Posted 25 March 2009 - 09:23 PM

Dear Jason,


A product group is a group (collection) of similair products.
While doing the HACCP-study it is possible to join products that are similair in a group. Similarity for example in processing and properties. By using product groups instead of all products separately you can save time and paperwork and get a HACCP-plan which is clear.

Hmm! It is not as easy to explain as I aspected.

Lets say that your business is a fish company. Products can be defined in frozen fish, fresh fish and cooked fish for example. It does not really matters for the process if the fish is Tilapia or Pangasius. The way of packing, however can matter. So products might be: fresh fish in MAP; fresh fish in foil; frozen fish and cooked fish. Then again marinating the product can make a difference to define another group. etc, etc.

Perhaps you can let me know what businesses you are in and tell me what products you are making. You will see, that you will tell me your activities in product groups.

P.S. is there not a Chinese translation of the IFS?


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#4 Jason H.Z.C.

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Posted 26 March 2009 - 02:18 AM

Dear MADAM AD-tor,

Thank you for explanation! If I work in a fish factory, all clear. However, I work in a fruit and vegetable cannery. The cannery manufactures several different tin canned products during different seasons per year. For instance:

Season 1: Mushroom in tin with brine solution, Production Duration: April-December,
Season 2: Lichee in tin with sugar syrup solution, Production Duration: June-July,

As you mention, Tilapia and Pangasius belong to fish, is it possible to join mushroom and lichee in one category? Could canned mushroom prosucts and canned lichee products mentioned above be incorporated in one product group? (remark: the production seasons of the two products are difference.)

One more question: If the raw material of two products is same but the solutions are different, could we join the those two products in one product group?(i.e. mushroom in tins with brine solution and mushroom in tins with water)

It is really difficult for me to differentiate what could be incorporated in a product group and what could not. Any one who give me a fever...?Thanks in advance:)

By the way, there are several Chinese versions of IFS v5 in China, however, none of which was drawed up by authority. :helpplease:

Regards,

Jason


Edited by Jason Huang, 26 March 2009 - 07:01 AM.

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#5 Jason H.Z.C.

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Posted 26 March 2009 - 02:23 AM

Dear Simon,

Thanks for correcting my topic title:)

Phrase "in English" is disappeared:)



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Jason


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#6 Charles.C

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Posted 26 March 2009 - 07:13 AM

Dear Jason Huang,

It's an interesting question. One obvious source for an answer is yr prospective auditor if you hv one. They hv to know the solution and, IMEX, may well offer it in advance of any money transfer. :whistle:

Regret I’m not familiar with the text of IFS standard. Is yr question only relating to the aspect of “product group” for HACCP purposes or ? Perhaps you could post ONLY the relevant chunk of text if not too long so you might get some more responses, eg from people like me. :smile:

As a BRC example but only for fish again, there are several possibilities within a category like “frozen fish”,eg cuttlefish, squid, shrimp which may hv very similar stepwise processes and similar significant hazards but IMEX auditors typically require to see several individual HACCP plans. A question of biological variation, representative sampling and verification I guess, the exct response will probably depend on how many different products / styles / risks you are making. On the other hand, like previous post, the same ‘fish” received as perhaps whole / fillets would probably only require one plan if the same end product. (The risks associated with the original step to make the fillet are thus ignored which is strictly incorrect of course and may represent a serious error sometimes).

Based on above, I predict that you will hv to separate mushroom and lychee (are the raw material risk factors really all the same, even chemical ones ?? :dunno: )

Yr second query has a better chance IMO, especially if the sterilisation requirements are identical ?? I think you are legally required to file documentation on such aspects for all products ??

Hopefully an IFS specialist (Madame...) can give a more directly experienced answer ( maybe YES/YES :smile: )

Rgds / Charles.C


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#7 Jason H.Z.C.

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Posted 26 March 2009 - 08:37 AM

Dear Charles.C,

Thank you for explanation :rolleyes: It seems like that you fell into misunderstanding. I did not express clearly...Sorry for my awkward English level...

Actually, I can identify the difference between the word "category" and phrase "product group".

What confusing me is that lichee and mushroom has similar pretreating, processing and packing steps(peeling, launching, grading, slicing, filling, sterilizing cooling labelling and transporting), but the solutions used to marinate them are different(lichee with syrup solution, mushroom with brine solution). Is it possible to join them in one product group? :dunno:

It is very important for me to be aware to the truth, because as I mention above, those products are manufactured in different season. Audit could only be conducted annually. Therefore, during the audit the auditor can not see the productions for all kinds of products.

For instance, lichee in tins with syrup solution is produced from June to July, Sprouted beans in tins with water is produced from December to April. If an auitor comes to our factory in July, he can only see how lichee products are produced. If lichee in tins with syrup solution and sprouted beans in tins with water belong to one product group, they can reward us the certificate for both lichee and sprouted bean product without seeing the production process for sprouted beans :biggrin:

So it is critical for me to make certain the truth.

Regards,

Jason


Edited by Jason Huang, 26 March 2009 - 08:39 AM.

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#8 Charles.C

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Posted 26 March 2009 - 01:38 PM

Dear Jason,

I admit that I am a little bit confused. It’s not unusual in this forum and often comes from my side. :smile:

I thought I interpreted product group in same way as Madame A. D-tor, but maybe not.

I understand yr problem regarding not able to show the auditor some actual products / processes. My guess is that yr options will depend on what coverage you are requesting to be shown on the final certificate and whether you hv acceptable documentation to validate any unseen processing (eg appropriate HACCP plan, process data, etc).

IMEX for BRC and seafood, the options do exist but will depend on the exact situation plus the specific IFS auditor’s opinion. Hopefully some more IFS specialist’s comments will appear soon.

I haven’t added any more comments on HACCP plans as I think you didn’t want that. If I misunderstand please clarify. Absolutely no problem to adjust again. :biggrin:

Rgds / Charles.C


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#9 Madam A. D-tor

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Posted 26 March 2009 - 09:29 PM

Hello Charles C. and Jason,

I'm back at the forum after a hard day work.

Regret I’m not familiar with the text of IFS standard. Is yr question only relating to the aspect of “product group” for HACCP purposes or ? Perhaps you could post ONLY the relevant chunk of text if not too long so you might get some more responses, eg from people like me.

Charles, the product groups as mentioned in IFS are the same as you had in mind. I couldn't actually find the word product groups in BRC, but i'm quite sure that in BRC it is also accepted to group the products for flow sheets, product descriptions and other HACCP purposes.

What confusing me is that lichee and mushroom has similar pretreating, processing and packing steps(peeling, launching, grading, slicing, filling, sterilizing cooling labelling and transporting), but the solutions used to marinate them are different(lichee with syrup solution, mushroom with brine solution). Is it possible to join them in one product group?

Jason, I am sorry but I do not have much (read none) experience in canned fruit and vegetables. I would assume that lichees (growing on trees?) are different from mushrooms (growing on dirt?) are different from sprouted beans. The difference in marinate can be of interest but can also be a small difference within a group. You mentioned 3 products that I feel are very different from eachother. Both in the way they grow as in the hazards of the raw materials.
It is important that the similarity is based on the processes, raw materials, packaging and the hazards involved. Make sure there is a thorough raw material HACCP-analyse in place.

I extracted this explanation from "requirements for a HACCP based food safety system", issue 4A, June 2006:
For practical reasons the total product assortment may be clustered into product groups. However it isimportant that:
· · Specific differences between individual end products have been critically evaluated;
· · Manufacturing and storage conditions are comparable;
· · Important aspects for food safety are not overlooked.



[left]

For instance, lichee in tins with syrup solution is produced from June to July, Sprouted beans in tins with water is produced from December to April. If an auitor comes to our factory in July, he can only see how lichee products are produced. If lichee in tins with syrup solution and sprouted beans in tins with water belong to one product group, they can reward us the certificate for both lichee and sprouted bean product without seeing the production process for sprouted beans


I understand yr problem regarding not able to show the auditor some actual products / processes. My guess is that yr options will depend on what coverage you are requesting to be shown on the final certificate and whether you hv acceptable documentation to validate any unseen processing (eg appropriate HACCP plan, process data, etc).


I agree with Charles that you should justify by HACCP-plan, documents, records etc.
I understand that the processes are quite similair and only some small variations. Maybe in time/temperature programs or size of the cans, and in recipes of marinating (syrup, brine, water)
It also depends on the scope you are requesting. A scope like: producing canned fruits, mushrooms and vegetables might be too general. If you are specifying in lichees, mushrooms and sprouted beans, the auditor might want to see all these processes.
You should contact your CB to ask how to deal with this.

I think I would make the product groups canned fruits, canned vegetables and canned mushrooms. On the other hand, the processes are similair and if there is a good raw material HACCP -plan next to a proces HACCP-plan. (are there any other hazards in the processing of mushrooms then in fruits?)

Hmm, I'm sorry, but I think I can not give you a proper answer. Mayber there are some canned fruit/vegetable experienced persons on the forum, which can help you
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#10 Jason H.Z.C.

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Posted 11 June 2009 - 02:30 AM

Dear all,

Thank you very much for all precious opinions issued by you. Recently we are informed by our certification body about how to differentiate the products group in a cannery.

The product group could be stipulated by means of their balanceable pH after sterilization or pasteurization if the pH exceed 4.6, it could be incorporated into low acid product group. If the pH is below 4.6, it could be incorporated into acid product group.

The certification body recognises the method of differentiate product group mentioned above, thereby we use it as the method to re-evaluate the product groups in our com pany. Thank you very much for all of your opinions:)

In addition, if any of you think the method is not scientific, please don't hesitate to express your valuable opinion.

Jason


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