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What is Your Employee to QA Personnel Ratio?

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Poll: What is Your Employee to QA Personnel Ratio? (127 member(s) have cast votes)

What is your food processing facility's Employee (office staff included) to QC personnel ratio?

  1. greater than 60 to 1 (25 votes [19.69%])

    Percentage of vote: 19.69%

  2. between 60 and 50 to 1 (11 votes [8.66%])

    Percentage of vote: 8.66%

  3. between 50 and 40 to 1 (21 votes [16.54%])

    Percentage of vote: 16.54%

  4. between 40 and 30 to 1 (19 votes [14.96%])

    Percentage of vote: 14.96%

  5. between 30 and 20 to 1 (16 votes [12.60%])

    Percentage of vote: 12.60%

  6. between 20 and 15 to 1 (18 votes [14.17%])

    Percentage of vote: 14.17%

  7. between 15 and 10 to 1 (9 votes [7.09%])

    Percentage of vote: 7.09%

  8. less tan 10 to 1 (8 votes [6.30%])

    Percentage of vote: 6.30%

How many production/processing lines do you have?

  1. 1-2 (42 votes [33.07%])

    Percentage of vote: 33.07%

  2. 3-5 (42 votes [33.07%])

    Percentage of vote: 33.07%

  3. 6-9 (21 votes [16.54%])

    Percentage of vote: 16.54%

  4. 10-15 (13 votes [10.24%])

    Percentage of vote: 10.24%

  5. 16-20 (9 votes [7.09%])

    Percentage of vote: 7.09%

Do you find your food processing facility's Employee to QA personnel ratio as adequate?

  1. Yes (53 votes [41.73%])

    Percentage of vote: 41.73%

  2. No (74 votes [58.27%])

    Percentage of vote: 58.27%

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#1 bacon

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Posted 18 November 2015 - 05:09 AM

Because QA workload is rather hard to quantify, Senior Management has a hard time "justifying" additional QA staff support.

 

So...

 

What is your food processing facility's Employee (office staff included) to QC personnel ratio?
 


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#2 brianweber

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Posted 18 November 2015 - 01:56 PM

Ours QA department is me. 60 employees, 5-6 lines.


Brian


#3 WayneFiorelli

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Posted 18 November 2015 - 02:34 PM

The QA/QC department consists of me alone. But we only have 15-20 employees, and just the one production line if you can even call it that.



#4 Simon

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Posted 19 November 2015 - 07:06 AM

I guess there is no "right" answer on this as the size and complexity of the organization in terms of its products and processes is a major factor.  Because of this the third question is the most telling for me and it's about 50/50 as of now. I actually expected more QA Managers would feel under-resourced, so it is quite heartening to see the results.

 

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#5 RMAV

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Posted 20 November 2015 - 06:01 PM

First, you one-man-band folks are my heroes.

 

Just my opinion based on experience with QA groups, customers, *examining myself*, etc...I have found more often than not that QA groups tend toward waste.  I can't count the number of times I've come to a new QA group and several members spend all kinds of time doing things that do not need done or spend lots of time doing a task that could be completed in much less time.  I've seen customers come in and audit who clearly were never in a real operation.  They swallowed a QA textbook one day and off they went auditing the next, appalled that someone forgot one day to check the condition of the lavatory mirror in the office while completely missing a glaring error in the critical limits as specified in the HACCP plan.  I've seen a whole host of duties someone spent 60 hours a week doing only to find after they left that only half were truly needed with the rest being either overkill or irrelevant.  I've seen it in myself too.  just two months ago I realized that the way we were doing a procedure for the last two years was taking 4.5 hours to do and somehow I had failed to see that we could do the same thing in 1.5 *with less labor* and just a small alteration to the procedure.

 

Maybe this is changing, but over the years I have seen QA groups nearly oblivious to efficiency, because after all, operations is always pushing on us for their own efficiency and we have to push back with quality requirements.  I used to be stuck in this mindset.  While we still have to push back with quality requirements, we should not overreact to the point we do not look at our own efficiency. 

 

If we feel understaffed I think the first step is to take a step back and *risk assess* our activities.  Are we putting the resources toward our greatest risk?  Working down to the lowest risk we may find that some of those activities may be better done by another department, or done by no one at all, or at less frequency than today.  We need to push back on unreasonable customer request - the ones that do not reasonably improve safety or quality but only add cost.  We need to examine ourselves and our own processes, taking a "fresh pair of eyes" look at what we are doing and how we are doing it. 



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#6 PS1

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Posted 20 November 2015 - 09:27 PM

Hi,

I am a consultant and I work with a range of companies. The majority of small to mid sized companies would have 1-2 QA people.  

 

One factor that affects QA workload is management commitment from the top and production buying into the QA requirements. One company I work with has a fantastic production manager who is QA focused and does everything by the book (need to clone him) so the QA demand in that company is low as production can be "left to it". 



#7 Tony-C

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Posted 21 November 2015 - 04:49 AM

First, you one-man-band folks are my heroes.

 

Just my opinion based on experience with QA groups, customers, *examining myself*, etc...I have found more often than not that QA groups tend toward waste.  I can't count the number of times I've come to a new QA group and several members spend all kinds of time doing things that do not need done or spend lots of time doing a task that could be completed in much less time.  I've seen customers come in and audit who clearly were never in a real operation.  They swallowed a QA textbook one day and off they went auditing the next, appalled that someone forgot one day to check the condition of the lavatory mirror in the office while completely missing a glaring error in the critical limits as specified in the HACCP plan.  I've seen a whole host of duties someone spent 60 hours a week doing only to find after they left that only half were truly needed with the rest being either overkill or irrelevant.  I've seen it in myself too.  just two months ago I realized that the way we were doing a procedure for the last two years was taking 4.5 hours to do and somehow I had failed to see that we could do the same thing in 1.5 *with less labor* and just a small alteration to the procedure.

 

Maybe this is changing, but over the years I have seen QA groups nearly oblivious to efficiency, because after all, operations is always pushing on us for their own efficiency and we have to push back with quality requirements.  I used to be stuck in this mindset.  While we still have to push back with quality requirements, we should not overreact to the point we do not look at our own efficiency. 

 

If we feel understaffed I think the first step is to take a step back and *risk assess* our activities.  Are we putting the resources toward our greatest risk?  Working down to the lowest risk we may find that some of those activities may be better done by another department, or done by no one at all, or at less frequency than today.  We need to push back on unreasonable customer request - the ones that do not reasonably improve safety or quality but only add cost.  We need to examine ourselves and our own processes, taking a "fresh pair of eyes" look at what we are doing and how we are doing it. 

 

What you are saying may be true but don't believe for a minute this is QA specific, the same can apply for any department in an organization.

 

Regards,

 

Tony



#8 RMAV

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Posted 22 November 2015 - 02:48 AM

What you are saying may be true but don't believe for a minute this is QA specific, the same can apply for any department in an organization.

 

Regards,

 

Tony

 

Tony, I absolutely agree, and I apologize that my post singled out QA as if it is the only culprit.  In one organization I saw QA leading the charge for efficiency but the other departments, especially operations, failing in this regard.  Sadly, that company no longer exists.

 

All, in case I made it seem like I was dismissing all those who felt their QA was short-staffed, please be assured it was not my intent.

 

PS1, that is indeed a huge factor and one I overlooked as I was thinking about this.  You're very correct.  A quality/safety conscious leadership really does reduce QA workload and with a good QA group, is a force multiplier.



#9 JohnWheat

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Posted 23 November 2015 - 07:53 AM

First, you one-man-band folks are my heroes.

 

Just my opinion based on experience with QA groups, customers, *examining myself*, etc...I have found more often than not that QA groups tend toward waste.  I can't count the number of times I've come to a new QA group and several members spend all kinds of time doing things that do not need done or spend lots of time doing a task that could be completed in much less time.  I've seen customers come in and audit who clearly were never in a real operation.  They swallowed a QA textbook one day and off they went auditing the next, appalled that someone forgot one day to check the condition of the lavatory mirror in the office while completely missing a glaring error in the critical limits as specified in the HACCP plan.  I've seen a whole host of duties someone spent 60 hours a week doing only to find after they left that only half were truly needed with the rest being either overkill or irrelevant.  I've seen it in myself too.  just two months ago I realized that the way we were doing a procedure for the last two years was taking 4.5 hours to do and somehow I had failed to see that we could do the same thing in 1.5 *with less labor* and just a small alteration to the procedure.

 

Maybe this is changing, but over the years I have seen QA groups nearly oblivious to efficiency, because after all, operations is always pushing on us for their own efficiency and we have to push back with quality requirements.  I used to be stuck in this mindset.  While we still have to push back with quality requirements, we should not overreact to the point we do not look at our own efficiency. 

 

If we feel understaffed I think the first step is to take a step back and *risk assess* our activities.  Are we putting the resources toward our greatest risk?  Working down to the lowest risk we may find that some of those activities may be better done by another department, or done by no one at all, or at less frequency than today.  We need to push back on unreasonable customer request - the ones that do not reasonably improve safety or quality but only add cost.  We need to examine ourselves and our own processes, taking a "fresh pair of eyes" look at what we are doing and how we are doing it. 

With my recent move I have inherited QA team doing tasks that quite frankly belong elsewhere. Example: Each hour visit each refrigerator COMPRESSOR around site to ensure they're running!! The web based monitoring system alerts and alarms whenever a cold store or zone is out of spec (taking into account defrost cycles etc) so really no need to check compressors! Apparently the engineering team are too busy to listen out (audible/visual alarm) ..........

When I challenged this set up, I was shot down by site manager stating if that task was taken away/moved then we can reduce QA staff!



#10 Skyhawk

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Posted 23 November 2015 - 09:51 PM

Interesting survey - I believe that the challenge for any QA team is to get that everyone in the company to own their part in the process (including continuous improvement), and not have the attitude that "Quality is the QA dept job", (though in this very busy world - of course that is often easier said than done). So then, this Employee to QA Personnel Ratio should be somewhat a moot point as everyone contributes to the effective operation of the Company, and Quality/Food Safety System. And then further to this, by using appropriate KPI monitoring and review, limited resources can be focused on the risk areas.
(Again sounds easier on paper than in reality.....)

And I strongly agree with RMAV about using Risk Assessment and implementing appropriate requirements that are not OTT.
The "one size fits all " / "text book" quality auditing approach can be challenging, but I have no problem in asking any auditors (both customers and external) to explain why they believe something is a significant risk.
The QA team does have to ensure they have a very good overview of how all systems in the company work, and ensure that they can have a dialogue with auditors to agree on appropriate audit responses. 
 

On the OTT point - I recently found my QA team putting a low water activity (so low food safety risk) powdered product on hold, because the date on the label versus the CofA did not match by just 1 day.
I think this is a wasted effort/time, as the product is traced by unique batch number, so there is no loss in traceability. There is no food safety risk relating to +/- 1 day for a 24 month shelf low water activity powder, so I suggested that there is negligible risk in ignoring CofA date differences of 1-2 days. I expect that the reason for the date differences would probably relate to the product being tested after production has finished.
When I questioned this practise, I was told that our customers would complain, but surely we should be able to advise our customers that there is negligible risk associated, therefore no change to either CofA or labels is required. ................I'd appreciate anyone's thoughts on this scenario...

 



#11 JohnWheat

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Posted 03 December 2015 - 03:45 PM

 

On the OTT point - I recently found my QA team putting a low water activity (so low food safety risk) powdered product on hold, because the date on the label versus the CofA did not match by just 1 day.
I think this is a wasted effort/time, as the product is traced by unique batch number, so there is no loss in traceability. There is no food safety risk relating to +/- 1 day for a 24 month shelf low water activity powder, so I suggested that there is negligible risk in ignoring CofA date differences of 1-2 days. I expect that the reason for the date differences would probably relate to the product being tested after production has finished.
When I questioned this practise, I was told that our customers would complain, but surely we should be able to advise our customers that there is negligible risk associated, therefore no change to either CofA or labels is required. ................I'd appreciate anyone's thoughts on this scenario...

However at some point in the life there must a be a cut off point or what is the point in having it? 1 day, next 1 week/month. Change date to 25 months life? What happens after you change life to 25/30/36 months or whatever you decide and they then go over by a day again?

A correct course of action initially would be to obtain a concession to document it. Then review it with customer as a day over doesn't really cause issues?

Still, as stated you will still need a cut off point?



#12 Tony-C

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Posted 03 December 2015 - 04:07 PM

On the OTT point - I recently found my QA team putting a low water activity (so low food safety risk) powdered product on hold, because the date on the label versus the CofA did not match by just 1 day.
I think this is a wasted effort/time, as the product is traced by unique batch number, so there is no loss in traceability. There is no food safety risk relating to +/- 1 day for a 24 month shelf low water activity powder, so I suggested that there is negligible risk in ignoring CofA date differences of 1-2 days. I expect that the reason for the date differences would probably relate to the product being tested after production has finished.

 

We are wandering off topic a bit but and interesting point to discuss.

 

If this is a raw material then this is something that should be picked up on goods receipt and the supplier contacted to ensure you have the correct COA. You/your guys should not have to make rules to account for the inadequacies of your supplier.

 

If it is your finished product I don't understand the issue, surely the COA has the batch number and date of production of the product on it?

 

Regards,

 

Tony



#13 GMO

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Posted 10 July 2017 - 08:16 PM

Depends what you term as QA.  If you're strictly saying "QA" and not things like spec writing, then we're over 60.  If you include more "back room" technical tasks and management, it's nearer 35.  The older and more senior I get, the more I realise I could always do with more Technical people but it doesn't always follow that I should have them.  Systems could always be better.  Details could always be checked more.  Ultimately though you have to reach a point of being pragmatic and doing what you can.  Sometimes a low number of QA staff can indicate an advanced food safety culture because a lot of the traditional QA or QC responsibilities have been absorbed into other roles and accepted as responsibilities of that role.  That was the original intention in moving away from QC to QA.  I also don't think one size fits all.  I've worked in one site (albeit small) where the ratio was about 20 to 1 and we could have had it as 5 to 1 and still been firefighting every day.  I've worked in a factory where it was nearer 120 to 1 and ran like a dream.

 

One thing all technical people have to understand is we don't make money, we are an overhead.  We may stop mistakes but to a lot of the factory we can be seen as a "necessary evil" rather than added value.  It is easy to say "we need more people" but it's always worthwhile trying to put a cost and value to that and realising when you're taking responsibility away from other departments as that just adds to workload; just like health and safety isn't only the responsibility of the H&S Manager, food safety isn't just the responsibility of Technical either.  It's not an easy balance but it is a balance.



#14 GMO

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Posted 10 July 2017 - 08:19 PM

I have found more often than not that QA groups tend toward waste...

Maybe this is changing, but over the years I have seen QA groups nearly oblivious to efficiency, because after all, operations is always pushing on us for their own efficiency and we have to push back with quality requirements.  

 

YES!  100% right!



#15 will.merrill

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Posted 06 June 2018 - 05:08 PM

41 to 1

 



#16 Ryan M.

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Posted 25 July 2019 - 07:53 PM

Each company, business, and site are different.  You really have to look at the resources needed to ensure food safety and quality versus the risk and frequency of food safety or quality issues.  I've been a QA manager where the ratio was almost 100:1 and also where the ratio was about 9:1.  

 

In my current facility we are about 35:1. I've seen every other department grow in staff as operations have expanded including new equipment, but our QA department has only grown to the schedule needed, added 2 people while all other departments have added 5 to 10.  We have one QA tech person per shift.  This QA person handles all plant QA monitoring, sanitation monitoring activities including getting chemicals as needed, and laboratory testing (chemical, microbiological, etc).  They rarely have time to take all of their breaks, and on a lot of days don't even take a lunch even though working 12 hour shifts.

 

I know we are way understaffed comparatively because we have had a number of quality issues and a few got out to the customer.  A year ago this never happened, then again a year ago we were running half the production we are running now and we have a lot of new, green people in operations.  They consistently miss easy stuff and make many errors which my QA folks, bless their heart, catch as much as they can.  Of course, with more errors management implements more checks, more verifications, more work for QA and the cycle continues.

 

I'm hopeful today after meeting with my team and my boss to get input we can look to hire additional resources.  It just boggles my mind the way this company operates....  For example, implement a WMS system in the warehouse (great!) and immediately go hire someone to manage it....yet, we want to extend shelf-life on the product by at least 25% and have more consistent quality we don't need to hire anyone for this...the QA team can handle it on top of everything else.  I asked for a sanitation supervisor and was shot down immediately because my boss thinks the facility is "small".  What he doesn't understand is small does not mean simple and easy.  Small square foot with a lot of equipment in place and a lot of complicated operations where no one really understands the CIP systems aside from 2 people.



#17 QAGB

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Posted 02 August 2019 - 06:28 PM

Each company, business, and site are different.  You really have to look at the resources needed to ensure food safety and quality versus the risk and frequency of food safety or quality issues.  I've been a QA manager where the ratio was almost 100:1 and also where the ratio was about 9:1.  

 

In my current facility we are about 35:1. I've seen every other department grow in staff as operations have expanded including new equipment, but our QA department has only grown to the schedule needed, added 2 people while all other departments have added 5 to 10.  We have one QA tech person per shift.  This QA person handles all plant QA monitoring, sanitation monitoring activities including getting chemicals as needed, and laboratory testing (chemical, microbiological, etc).  They rarely have time to take all of their breaks, and on a lot of days don't even take a lunch even though working 12 hour shifts.

 

I know we are way understaffed comparatively because we have had a number of quality issues and a few got out to the customer.  A year ago this never happened, then again a year ago we were running half the production we are running now and we have a lot of new, green people in operations.  They consistently miss easy stuff and make many errors which my QA folks, bless their heart, catch as much as they can.  Of course, with more errors management implements more checks, more verifications, more work for QA and the cycle continues.

 

I'm hopeful today after meeting with my team and my boss to get input we can look to hire additional resources.  It just boggles my mind the way this company operates....  For example, implement a WMS system in the warehouse (great!) and immediately go hire someone to manage it....yet, we want to extend shelf-life on the product by at least 25% and have more consistent quality we don't need to hire anyone for this...the QA team can handle it on top of everything else.  I asked for a sanitation supervisor and was shot down immediately because my boss thinks the facility is "small".  What he doesn't understand is small does not mean simple and easy.  Small square foot with a lot of equipment in place and a lot of complicated operations where no one really understands the CIP systems aside from 2 people.

 

 

This sounds a lot like what I used to deal with. Fortunately though, when I asked for resources, I got them. The problem with the situation was the number of complicated and vastly different operations we had to monitor. Adding into that, we started experiencing high turnover in production leading to production employees making a lot of costly and time consuming mistakes. We couldn't catch everything and get lab work done as well. As a result, you couldn't have one person do all the testing. We needed multiple people in multiple areas, over a 3-shift operation. My employees had days where lunch was hard to get, but I tried to make sure we had enough coverage to take over when someone went to lunch, and on a larger scale, enough people to cover for vacations or emergencies. Most of my employees were cross-trained to handle multiple duties if push came to shove.

 

Reading your post almost made me feel like I wrote it. Even with the resources I had, it still felt like it wasn't enough, given the situation. I'm hoping you get the additional resources you need. 



#18 Ryan M.

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Posted 02 August 2019 - 06:35 PM

Reading your post almost made me feel like I wrote it. Even with the resources I had, it still felt like it wasn't enough, given the situation. I'm hoping you get the additional resources you need. 

 

My request was denied....my boss said this was "all temporary" and "things would go back to normal".  However, since I've been here we haven't eliminated any QA duties, only added to them, even things that really don't have any value whatsoever than just checking the box.  I loath the "check the box" activities since most of them have no value.  Unfortunately, my boss loves the "check the box" and thinks a plant can be managed, quality & safety wise, simply by checking the box.  He has no concept of reality and spends only about 30 minutes per week in the facility.  He has told me he's not here to spend time in the facility and that's my purpose.  Yet, he doesn't listen to my needs or the needs of the department.  Blah...everyday is frustrating.



#19 QAGB

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Posted 02 August 2019 - 07:14 PM

My request was denied....my boss said this was "all temporary" and "things would go back to normal".  However, since I've been here we haven't eliminated any QA duties, only added to them, even things that really don't have any value whatsoever than just checking the box.  I loath the "check the box" activities since most of them have no value.  Unfortunately, my boss loves the "check the box" and thinks a plant can be managed, quality & safety wise, simply by checking the box.  He has no concept of reality and spends only about 30 minutes per week in the facility.  He has told me he's not here to spend time in the facility and that's my purpose.  Yet, he doesn't listen to my needs or the needs of the department.  Blah...everyday is frustrating.

 

That's actually pretty messed up. I'm sorry your request was denied. The attitude of "checking the box" is how so many errors are made, and also the root of many withdrawal and recall situations unfortunately. This goes back to another forum item about senior management commitment. You can't spend 30 minutes in a facility in a week and understand the daily struggles. You certainly can't be committing to food safety if you think that "checking the box" manages a facility's processes. 

 

This situation right here is why BRC instituted the food safety culture clause along with management commitment. So many people don't understand the need for QA. They don't really see the benefits of QA. They just see us putting things on hold and being a hindrance to production; rather than to see we're trying to be proactive and prevent issues. 

 

People get burnt out, and the quickest way to get burnt out is to have to work long hours with limited outside support. Ugh....

 

When the companies I worked for started growing quickly, there was never a return to "normal". Each day became a new normal. Even when production does have a quiet season, there's still a lot of work to be done by QA. QA doesn't slow down because there's still product testing, environmental swabbing, COAs, internal audits, audits, complaints, document revisions, and so much more that have to be dealt with. 

 

I know those frustrations, hence I chose to have a change in scenery. Maybe you will be able to find things work in your favor, but in my experience the biggest changes and the most management responses were only ever instituted when an outside party complained or issued a non-conformance for a process. Otherwise, a lot of things were simply brushed off.



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#20 Ryan M.

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Posted 03 August 2019 - 12:00 AM

I know those frustrations, hence I chose to have a change in scenery. Maybe you will be able to find things work in your favor, but in my experience the biggest changes and the most management responses were only ever instituted when an outside party complained or issued a non-conformance for a process. Otherwise, a lot of things were simply brushed off.

 

Lol...when this happens, and we have had it happen two times since I've been here, I end up being the fall guy.  Let's just say my engagement is pretty darn low at this point.  Too bad, because there's a lot of opportunities to do things better and more efficiently.






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