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food safety ethics standards

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#1 TAN85


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Posted 16 January 2016 - 11:40 AM

Hi all, 


at the risk of getting kicked off for starting too many threads...haha....


I've posted this in General Chat because I can't seem to find a fitting category..  while the QA members I've met - and especially on this forum - are incredibly dedicated and friendly, in my work environment I'm meeting some...well, less than ethical characters.  While usually I'm one to not get involved in other people's business and rather focus on my own, I'm getting slightly annoyed at certain behaviours and I'm not sure how to proceed. Please keep in mind that despite my personal irritation towards this issue, which I have tried to distance myself from, I'm looking at it from a professional and food safety point of view.  For confidentiality reasons I will not be naming anyone.


A little background: 


My company supplies food products to some very well international fast food franchises,the pre-requisite to which is obviously to pass their audit standards. Audits are conducted by a 3rd party auditing firm.  There are currently only 2 approved suppliers in the country for this group:  myself (company A) and company B. Different products, and being such a small community we have a great relationship. We embarked on this journey together about 3 years ago and it has taken a lot of time, effort,and money for us both to become fully compliant.(I should emphasise although different products, we use exactly the same standard). 


Recently, a Company C has set up. A direct competitor to company B. I am on good terms with both and think a little competition is always good. I was asked by company C  to come in and have a look at their operations and possibly do some consulting as they are also planning an audit for the franchise standard, and do not have anyone with standard, audit or even QA experience.  I, wanting to start up my consultancy and viewing this as a great opportunity- agreed (This was about 2-3 months ago).  Now, while I understand better than anyone how much work needs to go into implementing FSMS, I would have failed them before I completed my walk through on basic GMP & GHP violations. It's a learning curve. I'm not judging. Obviously my findings were confidential and not disclosed to friendly company B. I commented on a few things and told them unfortunately I was unable to implement a system for them from scratch while maintaining a full time job at company A.

This concludes the background. 


I found out yesterday that they passed their audit with even higher scores (in 3 months) than either I or company B have received , having been through this process for 3 years. Great for them, they must have tonnes of money and serious whiz kids to have achieved that. HOWEVER, I also discovered some "confidential" information, in that company C has ownership interests in the franchises. Nothing too sinister there I suppose, good business strategy. That,and the fact that they have supposedly performed micro testing here, that I happen to know is impossible to do, led me to wonder a bit. I also know quite a few members of the higher management & was unfortunate to hear comments such as "as long as we can bluff our way through the audit" and "we are not spending that kind of money on this stupid stuff" while I did my first assessment of Company C. I also know that they have a "secret storage area" that by no means meets the required standard.


My question is: where does my loyalty lie? I'm sure company B are peeved and also dubious about these results, of course I will not divulge anything to them, but my concern is for the franchises and their umbrella company. If I have this information, should I do something about it? Being a small community I also have to do it in a way that wouldn't jeopardise my relations and reputation. Do I leave it to hopefully come out in due course?(hopefully not because of a public health threat!) .


Any advice on this would be greatly appreciated, and I apologise if this sounds like something that should be on one of those "Agony Aunt" forums, hehe....





"Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.."

#2 Rodriguez-Gonzalez


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Posted 17 January 2016 - 09:54 PM

Welcome to the shadows game (or smoke and mirrors game)...


I understand that Simon will help you filing your question in the right spot if you get it wrong.


Unfortunately this is the state of the food industry, my guess is that because the commodity managed is used to satisfy basic needs there will be always a lot of competition.


As you advance in your new consulting business you will find a series of pairings "bluffing the system", so be prepared to find a lot of situations that are "not fair".


My approach to this is to take that information to form a picture of what the real system is like, and let them win temporarily. From my perspective they are taking short-term actions to win the game, and with time they lose consistency (contradict themselves). Falling into their game may put you at risk in the long term because then they will justify their actions to compete against you.


Because of this my philosophy to food safety is changing to assist with technique and intelligence. Having the best technical system may not be always good, because there is always somebody trying to cheat your system to bluff your call.


I hope to have the opportunity to collaborate in the future.

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#3 mile


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Posted 19 January 2016 - 10:34 PM

Ethics something built inside and you carry it in time most far away. The only advice to ensure food supply by C is save for people. How to do it can discuss hear


any suggest from members

#4 Charles.C


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Posted 20 January 2016 - 04:49 AM

Hi Tan,

Serious stuff. Shades of -

Is there Ethics in Business ? (= Applied Ethics?)

( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethics )

Truth and Consequences

How to Justify being a Whistleblower ?

Might have a look at the (last) 3 threads linked below (there are others) which are partially related although IMO every scenario is likely to have some case-specific features. Unless perhaps you follow Kant, eg -






Kind Regards,



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#5 TAN85


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Posted 21 January 2016 - 01:21 PM

Thanks for your input Gentlemen, Charles - I enjoyed that whistleblower article! Actually sent it to my Directors too  :shades:

RG - after reading yours & Charles' posts, I spent a lot of time thinking (and trying not to lose my enthusiasm).  My experience/exposure is indeed limited to fighting Management internally - if you're going to do something, do it right. 

I can't decide whether it is refreshing or horrifying that this seems to be quite a widespread issue, we've all tried to cut corners and present arguments to auditors (some more valid than others),sure, and maybe I am being over-critical (although I doubt it). My concern here is promoting the culture and educating on the importance of actually following procedure. 

I will continue to listen to the information that is so generously provided to me, and perhaps drop a hint here or there if I feel there is genuinely a potential threat :oops2:

"Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.."

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