I completed an SQF development for a seafood company and we are now working with the facility personnel on implementation.
One of the tasks that I decided to take on was the Approved Supplier Program.
Seafood is one of those interesting industries to me that has a lot of operators flying by the seat of their pants when it comes to documentating things, actually having food safety protocols in place and having to prove anything to anyone.
I set letters out to about 240 suppliers seeking what I wanted and thus far about 100 have responded in the positive and then there are those that just don't want to give anything and the ones that feel they don't need to do anything at all and then tell you they do but can't prove it (I remember being an Auditor and having to deal with this crap too.)
You have laugh sometimes however - this is one of those times - here's an actual exchange with a supplier that finally ended just a little while ago....
Me: I send a supplier a letter indicating the items that I want - this includes specs, 3rd party audit or GFSI cert, FSVP for foreign suppliers, gmps, etc.
Supplier: no response - 7 days
Me: I send them a reminder on the 7th day.
Supplier: "Got your extensive requests, we only sell live lobsters and stuff like that so we don't do 3rd party audits, but I've attached a declaration"
Me: I look at the declaration and it indicates the company follows HACCP principals, GMPs for employees and has Sanitation Procedures in place.
Me: I respond and simply say since you don't have audits for our review and file we'll need to order an audit up or have the company personnel conduct an audit.
Supplier: I don't think you get it - we are very small so we don't do audits - don't send anybody here to do an audit - no no no.
Me: OK, let's wind back for a moment and discuss your declaration - since you mention that you follow HACCP guidelines I assume that means you have a HACCP plan and since you indicate that you have GMPs for employees and Sanitation Procedures I'd like to have copies of all that.
Supplier: Don't go assuming nothing buddy - we don't have a HACCP plan, we just follow the guidelines. (no mention of GMPs or Sanitation.)
Me: Ok, not a problem - give me a copy of the guidelines you follow, the GMPs for employees and the Sanitation documentation.
Supplier: No way - I don't have anything written down, I follow a friends plant up the street that is SQF certified, they have a HACCP plan, GMPs and Sanitation procedures!!!
Me: So, outside of the declaration that you sent you have no documentation of your own and you are just using John's from up the street (understand I had no info on the certified facility up the street _ I guessed in order to extract info.)
Supplier: Yeah, and that is not even our declaration - just between you and me, we never created any documentation, we are not FDA registered, we don't have one of those PCQI's, I have no intention of ever doing anything about what you want and the name the company up the street is XXXXX XXXXX - what bugs the heck out of me is that they charge the same amount of money as I do and they had to pay all that money out to get certified, have a QA, etc.... shortened.
Me: Thank you - we'll be in touch soon.
They just talked themselves out of a big account - now we are doing business the company up the street!
These kind of things happen everyday too, just amazing!