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Very Small Company Trying to Get Third-Party Certification


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#1 AJ1795

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Posted 17 November 2014 - 09:14 PM

Hi All,

 

I work for a very small (15 employee) food processor that needs to get AIB certification in order to work with larger customers.  This company has no written programs in place.  I was hired with a minimal background in quality and am trying to start getting systems into place.  Obviously, this is very overwhelming!  If anyone knows of any resources for a company in this position, I would greatly appreciate the references!  The owner of the company believes that we can get through an audit by just going through the AIB manual, is this realistic?  Will an auditor be satisfied by "programs" that are essentially made up?  Thanks in advance for your help!


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#2 Pizza&Sandwich

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Posted 17 November 2014 - 09:53 PM

Get a copy of the AIB manual for the certification you're seeking and write your programs to the standard. This also makes the auditor happy because you use the same wording and it makes quick work when reviewing the programs.

Be sure you have documentation to go along with your programs. Make sure paperwork is all signed, dated, etc.

 

What products do you produce?

 


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#3 Snookie

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Posted 17 November 2014 - 09:55 PM

:welcome:  :welcome:

 

 

There are many types of policies here on the forum, it may take a bit of creative searching but there are many great ideas that are easily modified. 


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#4 fgjuadi

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Posted 17 November 2014 - 09:58 PM

Sounds like you're looking at a scored GMP  audit.   You should have written policies, but with AIB, it's a much more physical inspection.  They're interested in if *stuff* is gonna get in your product.  So go through the manual and make documents that are generic and fit your plant.  Make  it a check list - if you're having trouble with one, ask us. 

 

But for AIB the documents aren't the be all end all.  Make sure you have a HACCP plan, and make sure you follow what ever policies you do have in place.    AIB is much more into looking (Up/ around / 360 degrees).  Beware though - if they see something they don't like physically, they'll dive into the documentation on that subject. 

 

What I really think would help you is getting an unscored GMP audit a few months before your scored audit.  The auditor will point out anything really bad that might take a lot of $ or time to fix (or be causing contamination in your product).  I like the ratio of conference room to time on the floor AIB spends.   Be honest and open, don't try to hide anything. 


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#5 nd01ken

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Posted 18 November 2014 - 02:14 AM

Yes, you will want to go through the manual. Below is a link to the Prerequisite and Food Safety Programs. If you go to page 39 in the appendix you will find a section documents to have ready for review. This is a good starting point, but remember it is not everything they will ask for. Relate this section to the five categories for inspection as you are working through them. You can either download a PDF version of the manual or you can purchase flip books.

 

http://www.aibonline...alogNbr=06-1500


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#6 AJ1795

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Posted 18 November 2014 - 02:19 PM

Thank you all for the replies!  We make a few different confectionery products, all "low risk."  I guess I am curious about the programs and the definition of "program."  I see that many large companies have 40 page documents regarding one program.  Obviously this would be overkill for our company, but is it enough, for say, the Customer Complaint Program, to have a single page?  We are such a small company that we are able to deal with such things on an individual basis. 


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#7 fgjuadi

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Posted 18 November 2014 - 02:40 PM

Thank you all for the replies!  We make a few different confectionery products, all "low risk."  I guess I am curious about the programs and the definition of "program."  I see that many large companies have 40 page documents regarding one program.  Obviously this would be overkill for our company, but is it enough, for say, the Customer Complaint Program, to have a single page?  We are such a small company that we are able to deal with such things on an individual basis. 

This is a good example where you can keep it simple and tailor it for your factory.  Maybe your process is:  Complaint is forwarded to QA, QA investigates and completes a corrective action and customer response, QA trends quarterly and tells management.  That can be one page easily.  The important part is to make sure you have responsibilities and duties down, and that you actually adhere to them.  Refinement will come with time (and improvement neededs :)


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#8 RG3

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Posted 18 November 2014 - 04:51 PM

:welcome: AJ1795

 

You will need a copy of the AIB manual for starters so you know what AIB will be looking for. You can build your programs and documents around the manual so that you know you've hit every point. For your owner to say

 

  The owner of the company believes that we can get through an audit by just going through the AIB manual

 

makes it seem so nonchalant and as if it won't take much work. You will need to tailor it to your product and process. Make sure that you do what you say.

 

  Will an auditor be satisfied by "programs" that are essentially made up?  

 

If the programs are made up you're going about it the wrong way.

 

AIB is much more into looking (Up/ around / 360 degrees).  Beware though - if they see something they don't like physically, they'll dive into the documentation on that subject. 

This is very much every auditors style. They will pick away at your process and you will need to have some evidence that backs up your practices.

 

What makes it more manageable is that it is a smaller company with 15 employees so your trainings will be easily captured and hopefully getting their buy in. There are lot more threads on trying to get the Management commitment but don't forget that you also need the associates on the floor to commit to this new program as well. Make sure they understand what the company and is trying to do and why the company is doing it. Getting everyone's buy in is key.


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#9 AJ1795

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Posted 19 November 2014 - 02:21 PM

:welcome: AJ1795

 

You will need a copy of the AIB manual for starters so you know what AIB will be looking for. You can build your programs and documents around the manual so that you know you've hit every point. For your owner to say

 

 

makes it seem so nonchalant and as if it won't take much work. You will need to tailor it to your product and process. Make sure that you do what you say.

 

 

If the programs are made up you're going about it the wrong way.

 

This is very much every auditors style. They will pick away at your process and you will need to have some evidence that backs up your practices.

 

What makes it more manageable is that it is a smaller company with 15 employees so your trainings will be easily captured and hopefully getting their buy in. There are lot more threads on trying to get the Management commitment but don't forget that you also need the associates on the floor to commit to this new program as well. Make sure they understand what the company and is trying to do and why the company is doing it. Getting everyone's buy in is key.

 

Perhaps "made up" was poor word choice.  I meant that, as far as I know, there are no standards for each program, aside from the bullets listed in the AIB manual.  I am wondering if common sense is enough to write each program.


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#10 Taste Maker

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Posted 20 November 2014 - 03:55 PM

Absolutely, I can't think of a better place to start. We have been audited by AIB since 2009 and believe me the consolidated standards are exactly what will be needed. I would start by contracting an outside pest control service. This will eliminate a big part of the puzzle. Next, I would go thru page by page and create policies (personal hygiene, hairnets, broken glass, etc.) and programs (customer complaints, employee training, micro testing, etc.) according to your specific needs. In fact, before each audit, I go thru the book and make a list of the critical requirements and make written standard operating procedures to address what we will actually be doing. We want to answer who, what, when and how for each topic in the book. Some things will not need to be addressed depending on what type of plant you have. That is, if only dry spices are to be processed there is no need to monitor for temperature as a control point. Rather, be sure to have letters of guarantee on file from the vendor showing that the spices have been treated by a validated process since spices are inherently going to contain bacteria on the farm. Also, I would ask AIB for an audit without scoring to see where you are. I have attached our current master cleaning schedule (MCS) to use as a template.

Good Luck

Attached Files


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#11 AJ1795

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Posted 20 November 2014 - 04:07 PM

Absolutely, I can't think of a better place to start. We have been audited by AIB since 2009 and believe me the consolidated standards are exactly what will be needed. I would start by contracting an outside pest control service. This will eliminate a big part of the puzzle. Next, I would go thru page by page and create policies (personal hygiene, hairnets, broken glass, etc.) and programs (customer complaints, employee training, micro testing, etc.) according to your specific needs. In fact, before each audit, I go thru the book and make a list of the critical requirements and make written standard operating procedures to address what we will actually be doing. We want to answer who, what, when and how for each topic in the book. Some things will not need to be addressed depending on what type of plant you have. That is, if only dry spices are to be processed there is no need to monitor for temperature as a control point. Rather, be sure to have letters of guarantee on file from the vendor showing that the spices have been treated by a validated process since spices are inherently going to contain bacteria on the farm. Also, I would ask AIB for an audit without scoring to see where you are. I have attached our current master cleaning schedule (MCS) to use as a template.

Good Luck

 

Cannot thank you enough for this, Taste Maker!!


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#12 Bryan123

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Posted 20 November 2014 - 04:24 PM

Sounds like your starting your HACCP program from scratch.  I think it will take 2-4 months before you get everything in order.  You should start with creating some scratch sheets on your process as reference before tackling each Prerequisite bullet. 

1) flow chart of your processes- Receiving-> storage-> mixing-> heat/cool-> package-> ship

 

Think about all of the variables involved (the prereqs will get into very specific details, but that is later)

Be familiar with every aspect of each of these, so that you can ask the right questions when looking for answers. 

 

Write down all the products you make, where they get sold to, and any special instructions.  Think outside of the box if your are stuck, ie; not like ship at room temperatures, but could it be frozen, or what temperatures should it not be shiipped / stored at.

 

Write down all of your incoming ingredients, and think about what could be wrong with the ingredient or could go wrong if improperly handled. 

 

Write down how you mix, and think about how you shouldn't mix / process the product, and what could go wrong.   How do you communicate the how to, and the how not to's to everyone.- write it all down.

 

Once you have the scratch sheets done, the next step is formalizing in a consistent manner, documents, batch number, traceability all follows...  

 

Though it is a daunting task, its a great opportunity.  Enjoy

 

 


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#13 Harminnie

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Posted 20 November 2014 - 06:19 PM

15 employees-you're huge- I started with 2 staff and myself :), and I knew by the look on the first auditors face he thought he was going to fail us.  He was pleasantly surprised, we passed a BRC audit and we keep getting better every year. I can only address BRC: Buy the manual and if there is one, but the interpretation manual for the manual! I did say that correctly! It should be a full time job for you until you get it done. Get a big table you can spread out on and start on page one-read every word and do as it says. Pay extra attention to the word "shall". I also started from scratch without anything written-I wrote and numbered everything to the BRC Manual. I like it this way because as there are upgrades in versions it forces me to physically review each piece of paper and update it with the proper versions number. 2 resources that were a Godsend and got me through :  1-This  website  2- www.ssfpa.net Small Scale Food Processor Association-click on "Food Safety Portal" Use the Quick Links. They have  the entire layout of "Build a Food Safety Plan", including forms for GAP, Pre-Requisite, and a HAACP Plan etc., and they are the nicest people, up in Vancouver. I'm amazed what they did to assist their small food manufacturer's, thereby not forcing them to break the bank to get audit ready. I started here and augmented it with this website-and it worked-and continues to work.  Don't reinvent the wheel. Keep it simple.  I combined as  many forms and checklists as possible. When you're about done with the manual, ask a QC person from a customer who is certified to either AIB or  a GFSI scheme, to come in and do an audit of you. Finally, include as many of the staff in the meetings with the auditors  as possible because you'll get more buy-in  and they'll get a real education-good in-service days.  Remember to write in what is required, get staff input so you write what they'll actually do and live with, and don't put in too much to set yourself up for failure. Good Luck. It can be done. Contact me if you have any questions.


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#14 AJ1795

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Posted 20 November 2014 - 07:09 PM

15 employees-you're huge- I started with 2 staff and myself :), and I knew by the look on the first auditors face he thought he was going to fail us.  He was pleasantly surprised, we passed a BRC audit and we keep getting better every year. I can only address BRC: Buy the manual and if there is one, but the interpretation manual for the manual! I did say that correctly! It should be a full time job for you until you get it done. Get a big table you can spread out on and start on page one-read every word and do as it says. Pay extra attention to the word "shall". I also started from scratch without anything written-I wrote and numbered everything to the BRC Manual. I like it this way because as there are upgrades in versions it forces me to physically review each piece of paper and update it with the proper versions number. 2 resources that were a Godsend and got me through :  1-This  website  2- www.ssfpa.net Small Scale Food Processor Association-click on "Food Safety Portal" Use the Quick Links. They have  the entire layout of "Build a Food Safety Plan", including forms for GAP, Pre-Requisite, and a HAACP Plan etc., and they are the nicest people, up in Vancouver. I'm amazed what they did to assist their small food manufacturer's, thereby not forcing them to break the bank to get audit ready. I started here and augmented it with this website-and it worked-and continues to work.  Don't reinvent the wheel. Keep it simple.  I combined as  many forms and checklists as possible. When you're about done with the manual, ask a QC person from a customer who is certified to either AIB or  a GFSI scheme, to come in and do an audit of you. Finally, include as many of the staff in the meetings with the auditors  as possible because you'll get more buy-in  and they'll get a real education-good in-service days.  Remember to write in what is required, get staff input so you write what they'll actually do and live with, and don't put in too much to set yourself up for failure. Good Luck. It can be done. Contact me if you have any questions.

 

This gave me so much hope!  Thank you!


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#15 MWidra

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Posted 25 November 2014 - 06:34 PM

When people hear the words "policy" and "program" they tend to think that the document needs to be couched in legalese, be 40 pages long, and include every situation known to man.  That's not true.  Think of your policy documents as down-to-earth instructions or roadmaps.  You want to say what the document wants to accomplish, who is responsible for doing the tasks, what you want them to do, and what records you are going to keep of your work.  At the end, have a document change tracking area, which says what versions the document has gone through. If your needs are simple, your documents can be simple and straightforward.  But if they are written so that no one can understand them, they don't perform any useful function.

 

Happy writing!

 

Martha


Edited by MWidra, 25 November 2014 - 06:44 PM.

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