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#1 George @ Safefood 360°

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Posted 06 May 2011 - 09:34 PM

I recently came across an interesting report produced by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) which is now several years old (2003) entitled ‘Industry Attitudes to Food Safety’. The FSAI conducted a survey with food businesses to determine the attitude of the industry to food safety. What particularly caught my interest were the findings on barriers to implementing and maintaining an effective food safety system. Some of the barriers cited included:

Lack of knowledge, cost, time, volume of paper-work, consultants’ charges, lack of information.

I also recall a comment made at a conference some time ago that the vast majority of product recalls come from plants that already have a food safety management or HACCP system in place. I am often preoccupied by the question ‘have the issues identified by the companies in the 2003 survey found any relief or improvement?’

I would love to hear your ideas, comments or experiences regarding barriers to effective food safety management.

Here is the original report: http://www.fsai.ie/u...y_Attitudes.pdf

George.

#2 mewwha

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Posted 14 May 2011 - 10:58 PM

Dear Sir,
I feel the barriers came from three sources:
1. Our suppliers- raw materials and packaging. Not all are exposed or aware of food safety. Specifically when the suppliers of raw materials are traders or distributors.
2. Top management- they themselves do not attend food safety seminars. When presented with recommendation from the food safety team for approval, they do not see the implications.
3. Attitude of Workers- they feel the management is giving them more work, aside from their existing assigned duties.
Thanks, Mew Wha

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#3 GMO

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Posted 15 May 2011 - 06:37 AM

Ultimately the biggest barrier is money and the consequences. I do try and emphasise the cost of non quality but the fact is you can 'get away' with poor quality systems for a long time before anything badly goes wrong, just as you can get away with poor health and safety systems for a long time before you kill people. I think the comparison with H&S is an interesting one. To improve H&S conformance, there are some very strict laws which could include imprisoning directors. Food safety lapses tend to result in fines and, in general, not very big fines for the company. £1 million for Cadbury's? Not tough enough IMO.

I remember H&S training saying that people don't generally think about the consequences of what they do unless they're very severe (and not even always then, look at how many people smoke) or because of previous experience of them. A hypothetical "we might have a recall" or "we might make someone ill" seems quite far away.

H&S standards though have improved by adopting a behavioural approach and I feel a similar approach could help quality and food safety standards.

The other barrier is lack of understanding and, in part, Technical people can accept some blame here. How many MDs have Level 4 HACCP and food safety? Nope? Struggling? How many MDs are ex Technical? So, it's a tricky thing to convince these people. But Technical people are at fault for not adapting their language, not educating people, not getting experience in production to be able to see the whole picture, liking being the 'expert' who holds the knowledge...

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#4 George @ Safefood 360°

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Posted 16 May 2011 - 08:37 PM

Dear Sir,
I feel the barriers came from three sources:
1. Our suppliers- raw materials and packaging. Not all are exposed or aware of food safety. Specifically when the suppliers of raw materials are traders or distributors.
2. Top management- they themselves do not attend food safety seminars. When presented with recommendation from the food safety team for approval, they do not see the implications.
3. Attitude of Workers- they feel the management is giving them more work, aside from their existing assigned duties.
Thanks, Mew Wha


Thanks, Mew Wha. Very interesting to get a perspective from an operator in the Philippines. In particular your comments about your supply base. It would be great to get a sense of the nature of the issues arising from suppliers and how they impact on your ability to manage food safety?

Your other two points I think refer to a very common barrier experienced by those in food businesses responsible for food safety. It is essentially an issue of culture. Food technologists or quality managers can often feel squeezed between the apparent indifference of senior management to food safety (especially when senior managers have to worry about all the other aspects of the business) and the suspicion of workers when food safety improvements are introduced.

From experience neither one is easy to address. However the food safety manager can improve things by delivering their messages to senior management in language they can relate to. For example, the cost of food safety failures expressed in terms of financial losses, loss of customers, loss of good will and ultimate business closure. It is important not to be alarmist and of course the impact of the message, as GMO points out, can often be limited by the perceived consequences (or lack thereof) from the regulatory authorities.

I think in regard to employees, this really come down again to senior management attitude. Without full commitment from the senior level, most employees will view any attempted improvements or changes in work practices as a cynical exercise.

#5 George @ Safefood 360°

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Posted 16 May 2011 - 09:16 PM

Ultimately the biggest barrier is money and the consequences. I do try and emphasise the cost of non quality but the fact is you can 'get away' with poor quality systems for a long time before anything badly goes wrong, just as you can get away with poor health and safety systems for a long time before you kill people. I think the comparison with H&S is an interesting one. To improve H&S conformance, there are some very strict laws which could include imprisoning directors. Food safety lapses tend to result in fines and, in general, not very big fines for the company. £1 million for Cadbury's? Not tough enough IMO.

I remember H&S training saying that people don't generally think about the consequences of what they do unless they're very severe (and not even always then, look at how many people smoke) or because of previous experience of them. A hypothetical "we might have a recall" or "we might make someone ill" seems quite far away.

H&S standards though have improved by adopting a behavioural approach and I feel a similar approach could help quality and food safety standards.

The other barrier is lack of understanding and, in part, Technical people can accept some blame here. How many MDs have Level 4 HACCP and food safety? Nope? Struggling? How many MDs are ex Technical? So, it's a tricky thing to convince these people. But Technical people are at fault for not adapting their language, not educating people, not getting experience in production to be able to see the whole picture, liking being the 'expert' who holds the knowledge...


Thanks GMO. Your comparison with the approach taken with H&S and food safety is interesting. In fact last week in Ireland, 3 Directors of an engineering business were handed down suspended sentences and large fines for breaches in H&S regulations that led to the death of a worker. I can't recall ever reading in the national press a similar story for breaches in food safety.

This may be due to the nature of food safety issues. In H&S issues there is often a clear line between the breach and the adverse outcome e.g. death of an employee. Courts can easily relate to this. But in food safety issues the link maybe more difficult to prove. The following article from the Irish Independent on the recent pork dioxin scare gives a sense of this...

Animal feed maker gets €387m in dioxin scare case

Having said that, a similar approach to that taken with H&S failures would no doubt focus the attention of more company owners and Directors.

I agree with you about food techie's having to accept some responsibility for not bringing senior management along. But I think how we educate our food safety people has a big part to play. A couple of years ago I had the opportunity to conduct some research on how the Dutch educate food technologists at under grad level.

While visiting Larenstein University I was immediately struck by the fact that business and operations management are a significant part of under grad programmes in food technology and innovation. They place the same value on business and management skills as they do on food technology. In fact in one programme students undertook two work placements in industry - the first for food technology and the second for production management. I'm sure this is in keeping with the Dutch culture for commerce but I think we could learn something here. i.e. how to communicate with senior management and who knows we could even see food techie and safety people taking up more senior management positions themselves?

Larenstein University

#6 Antores

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Posted 02 September 2011 - 05:08 PM

US Foods, one of the big players on food distribution in USA, made a survey on GFSi certifications among their 400 + suppliers early this year . Here are the results:



· The TOP reasons for not being GFS certified

o Time (27%)

o Resources (20%)

o See no benefit (10%)

o Cost (7%)



· Top barriers for those working towards GFS certification

o None (27%)

o Time (25%)

o Understanding GFS (21%)

o Resources (15%)

o Cost (7%)


Dont know the technical details about the survey, but thought on sharing the information. Personally, I'm not a believer of surveys, since people say what thay want, and not always what they think or do, but it is data and is better than guessing....

Edited by Antores, 02 September 2011 - 05:25 PM.


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#7 Antores

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Posted 02 September 2011 - 05:21 PM

Based on my personal experience, I will say the mayor burden for food safety is MANAGEMENT COMMINTMENT. If you see all GFSi schemes starts withManagement Commitment because they recognize this the single most importantelement for any safety program to work.

With that said, one of the reasons for lack of management commitment is of course MONEY, if they can’t see the cost/benefit of safety, is hard for them to put time, money and other resources on it.

I have the opportunity to audit, see and compare several operations of the SAME company, with the SAME programs and SAME resources, same PRODUCT, everything the same but different LOCAL managers, and there are huge differences in the way Food Safety is handled. After doing some root cause analysis the conclusion for the difference is solely MANAGEMENT COMMITMENT. Manager who understand the importance of Food Safety and are really committed, use their resources (whichin this case, again, are the same) to maintain a solid FS program, while the ones that think on Food Safety as a waste of time and money just do the minimun just to get along with what they have to do.

The impressive thing about this is that the management attitude spreads very quickly among supervisors and employees, a Manager that lacks interest in cleaning and food safety results on employees that have the same approach, and backwards.


Edited by Antores, 02 September 2011 - 05:24 PM.


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#8 Simon

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Posted 02 September 2011 - 05:26 PM

Thanks for posting Antorres, there has to be a driver for change and in my opinion the biggest driver for change when it comes to GFSI FSMS will be customer pressure; as the supply chain becomes more enlightened customers will begin to exert pressure on suppliers to become certified and suddenly the barriers will disappear. Anyone who still chooses to duck for cover behind their barriers will find they have locked themselves out of the market. Shrewd businesses should be anticipating the inevitable.

Regards,
Simon

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#9 George @ Safefood 360°

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Posted 08 September 2011 - 09:38 PM

Hi Antores

The US Food survey is very interesting. The result showing Time (or the lack of it) is very interesting. It may simply reflect that if you ask someone do you have enough time to do the job you are very likely going to get one response...

However if we are not to be too cynical we might conclude that food technologists and quality managers have over the years adsorbed an increasing burden without additional resources.

I was with a company last week who are interest in adopting Safefood 360 as their platform and the manager told be that in the coming weeks he has 2 retailer audits, 1 organic audit and 5 days off site to attend a major retailer's training session on that organisation's technical requirements. He also has a BRC audit coming up soon. He expressed his exasperation at being away from the job so much that he is being audited on.

It may be possible that time is a major issue especially if you consider the above example. It also highlights that the BRC (GFSI) has not become a standard which some retailers are prepared to accept without conducting their own audits. This is a shame and devalues somewhat one of the original benefits of its introduction.

This is something I feel strongly needs to be addressed by the GFSI and Retailers. I know the argument is made that the retailers conduct audits on processes and not so much the management system. However the BRC for example have gone to great lengths to ensure that auditors have experience in the processes of the company - some something is not adding up. Time is indeed a precious commodity in the food safety world...

George.

#10 GMO

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Posted 09 September 2011 - 02:39 PM

I know the argument is made that the retailers conduct audits on processes and not so much the management system. However the BRC for example have gone to great lengths to ensure that auditors have experience in the processes of the company - some something is not adding up. Time is indeed a precious commodity in the food safety world...

George.


Not an argument I agree with. All retailer audits have focussed plenty on both as far as I can tell, just from a 'shop floor' perspective as far as possible (which BRC are now doing too). I think the likes of Tesco and M&S will always want to set their own standards as if they have an issue with one supplier, they can issue an edict tomorrow that all suppliers must follow, not wait up to 3 years for the next version of BRC.

I think the value of BRC (and others) is in supplier auditing. It can help reduce your supplier auditing workload although I have to admit to a nagging doubt about the efficacy of some BRC auditors. Why is it I always get the nitpicking tough b******* and everyone else gets Mr or Mrs Fluffy who doesn't notice the obvious foreign body and pest risks??? :thumbdown:

Or maybe it's me who's the nitpicking tough b******* :oops:

#11 George @ Safefood 360°

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Posted 09 September 2011 - 07:52 PM

I accept your point GMO. Those retailers do look at both areas. The BRC has significant value of course. My point is really more about the time resources of those in the industry as reflected in the survey outputs.

I remember vividly the early days of the BRC Standard for companies supplying branded retail food products. One of the benefits canvassed was the reduction in various audits by the retailers on the same supplier. This never happened and the end result was one extra audit in the year i.e. BRC. In my opinion this was a missed opportunity to reduce the time demands on their suppliers.

As for efficacy of BRC auditors... I share your doubts about some. In fairness to the BRC they have been busy on this front perhaps?

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