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Food Safety and the Bottom Line

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#1 Brendan Triplett

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Posted 13 December 2018 - 10:39 AM

Hey all,

 

I am wondering if anyone gets any pushback from their upper echelons when it comes to food safety and the perceived negative impacts on the bottom line.  Some employers cannot see the forest for the trees with food safety and if they do not see a direct ROI then it is not eagerly pursued, funded or even provided with resources.  Some of us are lucky to have companies that really help us to focus on these issues.  What are your experiences?

 

Cheers!


Director of Operations/Vice President and SQF Practitioner in Pennsylvania
Brendan Triplett


#2 Lesley.Roberts

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Posted 13 December 2018 - 01:06 PM

Hi Brendan

 

It depends very much on the company you work for - luckily my employers supports the food safety agenda & as I always say, if you think quality is expensive, try NOT having a food safety team & see how you get on with that?!.

 

I worked as a consultant for 10 years & never stayed long at a client who didn't value food safety.  One client had a huge recall just after I left (as I said he would) and went into receivership... strangely enough I'm not particularly sympathetic to this!

 

Uk food industry is pretty much dominated by the grocery retailers who have really strict protocols for "own label" product (as they bear the liability if something goes wrong) and you can't really even operate without BRC as an absolute minimum.

 

What also works well is to divide BRC into different sections & allocate responsibility per area (eg. purchasing, logistics, maintenance etc.) so everybody is aware of their part in achieving the standard.  This way it becomes a "site" standard not "something that the quality department do".... seems to have worked so far in getting everybody on board with the quality/food safety agenda!!...


Edited by Lesley.Roberts, 13 December 2018 - 01:07 PM.


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#3 Scampi

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Posted 13 December 2018 - 01:37 PM

Brendan,

 

I agree with Lesley (I've been in operations where I knew that I wasn't there because they wanted me, but because I was a requirement---federally regulated poultry)

 

The easiest way to justify required expenses (IMHO) is to provide them with a cost/benefit analysis.............those types only see things that way so you need to be able to speak to them in a language they understand

 

So if foodstuff A takes 1.5 labour hours to make, and a CCP was missed and no CA performed......the QA tech put in how much time (and they are usually making more/hour) to put product on hold etc etc etc

 

Or if foodstuff A failed CCP----wasn't caught and a recall had to be issued, there is a $ attached +++ you've upset customers who have very long memories

 

Also, a gentle reminder that we are all consumers too.............and we hope everyone takes the same amount of care in their facilities so we do not get sick because food safety is a pain in the a**


Because we always have is never an appropriate response!


#4 MsMars

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Posted 13 December 2018 - 03:42 PM

Everywhere I've been it's always been a balancing act between production's bottom line and food safety/quality programs. I always have to remind myself to step outside the FSQA box and consider the other side of things on occasion. But my last employer was particularly difficult... if it didn't have an immediately quantifiable ROI, then it was always a no-go. That company had (maybe still has?) extremely reactive-only culture, flying by the seat of their pants with EVERYTHING (infrastructure, production, inventory, CAPEX projects) and that's just not how I operate, so it goes without saying that we didn't mesh well and I am no longer there.  Ironically enough I am working in a company which produces animal food but has much more top-down buy in on food safety and quality - it's like a breath of fresh air.



#5 MrHillman

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Posted 13 December 2018 - 07:35 PM

We're a small co-packer, if we don't retain our SQF, Organic and Kosher certificates we would have no customers at all.



#6 SQFconsultant

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Posted 13 December 2018 - 08:51 PM

Some companies need to get shocked into food safety - like when they kill someone with their product, make people sick or take a major loss because a customer goes to another company because the other is GFSI, etc.

 

My experience as an SQF Consultant has been that 50% of my clients had to get shocked first - this percentage however is heading downwards as more and more see food safety culture as aiding cash flow - too bad so many have to take the bumpy road.


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Glenn Oster

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#7 Lesley.Roberts

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Posted 13 December 2018 - 09:17 PM

Some companies need to get shocked into food safety - like when they kill someone with their product, make people sick or take a major loss because a customer goes to another company because the other is GFSI, etc.

 

My experience as an SQF Consultant has been that 50% of my clients had to get shocked first - this percentage however is heading downwards as more and more see food safety culture as aiding cash flow - too bad so many have to take the bumpy road.

 

Well said!!

 

It does no harm to pass on details of major food recalls/food safety issues and the financial consequences in your particular sector to your senior management team.

 

I've done this over the years with some success



#8 CMHeywood

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Posted 21 December 2018 - 03:33 PM

Why does a company have fire extinguishers when they don't have an immediate ROI and don't make an immediate improvement to the bottom line?  First, it's required by local fire codes and second, it addresses a risk that is too severe to ignore.

 

Why does a company have an IT group when they don't have an immediate ROI?  Because the risk of losing your data is too high to ignore.

 

Why does a company have an accounting department if they don't have an immediate ROI?  Because losing track of your money is too high of a risk.

 

Why does a company have managers and supervisors if they don't have an immediate ROI?  Because losing focus on your strategies and plans is too high of a risk.

 

Why does a company have a food safety plan if it doesn't have an immediate ROI?  Because recalls, consumer sickness/death, and loss of customers are too high of a risk.



#9 pHruit

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Posted 21 December 2018 - 04:29 PM

I think the difference with fire extinguishers, IT and accounting (particularly accounting - they look after the all-important money!) is that these are fairly tangible and broadly understood, whereas no matter how hard some of us QA/technical folk try, in some businesses the senior commercial people can't/won't understand what it is that we do. Things like "allergens", "pesticides", "bacteria" (especially bacteria) etc are pretty much just scientific mumbo-jumbo to too many of them, until it hits very painfully in the form of a recall or similar. At which point you may well get the "well why haven't QA done anything to prevent this?" question...

If your top management are bright enough to either understand these types of risk, or to recognise that their own limitations in this area are too great and to delegate this to someone with enough autonomy over resource to properly do something about it, then you're one of the lucky ones and the rest of the QA world looks on in envy ;)

 

Lesley's suggestion about providing examples is something that I'm sure many of us have resorted to over the years, but with some people even this isn't particularly effective.

Same with certification - it's not uncommon to now see that loss of BRC/FSSC/IFS/SQF status can cause large customers instantly walk away; it's written into many of their contracts that they can do exactly this. But I've worked in place that still do the "BRC is an impediment to sales" rant when we advised not buying from a completely unknown and usually entirely uncertified supplier who is suspiciously significantly cheaper than everyone else.

One thing to bear in mind is that to some commercial people, the view of any given situation may genuinely be the exact opposite of QA's - the cheap and potentially very questionable supplier looks like a great opportunity for increasing margin, rather than a massive pile of red flags and risk....







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