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#1 The Food Scientist

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Posted 20 December 2019 - 04:23 PM

I have an issue (one of the many issues I talk about here). Because I always like to hear it out from different people.

 

We are mid size spice and herb manufacturer. They were a lot worse than they are now but have been improving. I took over Quality Management recently and I am trying my best to improve many areas, We are SQF certified. 

 

So this is the issue. We have been packaging product into smaller packages from large boxes we receive from our suppliers. These products are herbs and spices. I have received two customer complaints complaining about foreign material. I went to investigate and found the root cause being that the product is coming in like this from our suppliers. Although supposedly they are approved suppliers. foreign material like plastics, hair, rocks...etc (stuff that cannot be metal detectable). I went to the floor and found boxes of packages the employees found to have foreign material (they visually saw them and took them off the lines). Now it is possible the employees could miss a few packages. Another employee told me when he opens the raw material box, he finds all sorts of foreign material, so I know for a fact that this is coming inside our facility from the supplier like this! Sooo we know the root cause right now. The issue is the purchasing manager we have. She kept arguing with me saying she will not go to our suppliers to argue with them about this issue. Me as the QA Manager informed her we must, because Supplier Controls are a PC we have in place, our raw material should go in our facility in every perfect way. She kept going on about how its an "our employee's" faults. My argument and prod manager's arguemtn is that Its not efficient to have our employees inspect EVERY single box that comes from supplier. Product should come from an APPROVED SUPPLIER WITH ZERO DEFECTS. PERIOD. I'ts definitely a challenge when the employees around you that play a critical role in your Food Safety System are this ignorant.

 

Has anyone been through anything like this before?


Everything in food is science. The only subjective part is when you eat it. - Alton Brown.


#2 pHruit

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Posted 20 December 2019 - 04:48 PM

Yes, this is unfortunately somewhat familiar - not the specific nature of the issue, but the strange world of purchasing whereby they genuinely seem to value the relationship with their supplier contacts more than those with their own colleagues, to the extent that it is apparently preferable to attribute blame to these colleagues for failings even when it is blindingly obvious that they're coming from the supplier, and when it's costing the company money in problems and lost sales.

 

Are there any other people at a senior level you can pull in to assist you on this?

If you can get the sales director and ideally MD/GM on board then that will help force the purchaser to do their job properly (i.e. buying the right ingredient) - the way to do this is to point out to them that the suppliers failings are upsetting customers, and if it isn't resolved then it will start to affect sales. They may be sceptical initially, but if it keeps happening then your customers will start having the same thoughts as you, i.e. "why can't this supplier get it right?" and "perhaps we should buy from someone else". The problem then is that some of these people will be luckier than you, and will have a purchasing department who responds to this type of thing, so they'll take their money and give it to your competitors instead. If you show this post to those colleagues and they're wondering how I'm so sure this is the case, it's because I've seen it 1st hand ;)

You'll need to make a judgement on seniority and structure in your company, but I'd also consider going straight to your accounts department, finding the finance director/controller, and asking them to put payment of the supplier's invoices on temporary hold. I'd then also contact the supplier directly, explain the issue, and advising that they will need to replace the stock with something more suitable both for any current material and any future deliveries. You don't want to set out to hurt the cash flow of another business, but equally it is usually quite effective at getting their attention as a last resort prior to taking your custom elsewhere.  

 

Prior to doing some of that you'll need to check that you're contractually ok to be holding invoices (hopefully you have a clause in your purchasing conditions about this) and also obviously check the spec for the incoming raw material - if your colleague bought weakly with poor control then it's possible that the quality is very low but the spec doesn't preclude this...

If that's the case then it will make things a bit more complex to resolve, but hopefully if you can drum up support from other departments then that will again assist in pushing the errant buyer towards actually buying the right thing from a competent source.

 

I guess the other thing to be aware of is that "zero" defects is what we're all generally striving for, but isn't always practicable or realistic with some products. I'm not intimately familiar with herb/spice processing, but given the nature and origin the materials I could imagine it being a product area where you may need to find the realistic compromise of the best that can be achieved through good practice from a competent supplier, and accept that with some types of product there may also be a low background level of (quality, rather than safety!) issues?



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#3 SQFconsultant

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Posted 20 December 2019 - 05:16 PM

"The issue is the purchasing manager we have. She kept arguing with me saying she will not go to our suppliers to argue with them about this issue. "

 

That told me all I needed to know --

 

This is from 12 years in SQF Consulting....

 

Your Purchasing Manager....

 

A. Has a relationship (friendship, etc.) with the supplier

B. Is taking kickback from the supplier (cash, gifts, whatever)

C. Both of the above.

 

This is almost always on point.


Kind regards,

 

Glenn Oster
 
 
GOC GROUP / +1.800.793.7042 / Food - Food Packaging - Food Storage/DC

SQF, BRC & IFS System Development, Implementation & Certification Consultants

Serving Small-to-Mid-Size Businesses | International Cross-Border C-CUR Acceptance

Internal Auditor Training | eConsultant | SQF, BRC & IFS Pre-Development or Pre-Audit GAP

http://www.GlennOsterConsulting.com  -- 

 

 

URGENT - Mission Critical - Great response - thank you!...

https://bit.ly/3kBj997

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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#4 zanorias

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Posted 20 December 2019 - 05:27 PM

Has anyone been through anything like this before?

 

Unfortunately yes. I've worked with purchasing teams that are very cooperative and and more than happy to back Technical and go to their suppliers when something is acceptable. Though I've also had the opposite - purchasing will argue against almost every raw material issue and blame our intake or production staff, ignoring any evidence and with constant reluctance to communicate any responsibility to the supplier.  In this case eventually we got the trading director involved. Whilst the director will be keen to keep good relations with suppliers, they will also be invested in the customer side of things and the consequences of issues from raw materials that can affect customers and thereby the company. The director requested to be CC'd into any emails regarding supplier complaints sent from Technical to Purchasing, and surprise surprise things were much easier thereafter.

 

I also agree with pHruit's comments on 'zero defect' - whilst this would be the case in an ideal world, with many products especially of a natural origin, it would be unrealistic to expect 100% because this assumes no margins of human error, natural variation etc etc. Hence also why many products will have acceptability parameters in the specs i.e. X bones/stones per X kg



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#5 The Food Scientist

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Posted 20 December 2019 - 05:38 PM

"The issue is the purchasing manager we have. She kept arguing with me saying she will not go to our suppliers to argue with them about this issue. "

 

That told me all I needed to know --

 

This is from 12 years in SQF Consulting....

 

Your Purchasing Manager....

 

A. Has a relationship (friendship, etc.) with the supplier

B. Is taking kickback from the supplier (cash, gifts, whatever)

C. Both of the above.

 

This is almost always on point.

 

I am afraid to say yes! (I already knew LOL)  :silly:


Everything in food is science. The only subjective part is when you eat it. - Alton Brown.


#6 The Food Scientist

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Posted 20 December 2019 - 05:41 PM

Unfortunately yes. I've worked with purchasing teams that are very cooperative and and more than happy to back Technical and go to their suppliers when something is acceptable. Though I've also had the opposite - purchasing will argue against almost every raw material issue and blame our intake or production staff, ignoring any evidence and with constant reluctance to communicate any responsibility to the supplier.  In this case eventually we got the trading director involved. Whilst the director will be keen to keep good relations with suppliers, they will also be invested in the customer side of things and the consequences of issues from raw materials that can affect customers and thereby the company. The director requested to be CC'd into any emails regarding supplier complaints sent from Technical to Purchasing, and surprise surprise things were much easier thereafter.

 

I also agree with pHruit's comments on 'zero defect' - whilst this would be the case in an ideal world, with many products especially of a natural origin, it would be unrealistic to expect 100% because this assumes no margins of human error, natural variation etc etc. Hence also why many products will have acceptability parameters in the specs i.e. X bones/stones per X kg

 

Yes perhaps I overreacted with the "Zero defects" issue. But that is what we should still communicate to our supplier. We have expectations and we wants "perfect" product delivered to us (in our world).


Everything in food is science. The only subjective part is when you eat it. - Alton Brown.


#7 eatmoreomega3s

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Posted 20 December 2019 - 06:08 PM

I also work in herbs and spices, and we are dealing a similar issue - the purchasing dept. not wanting to go back to suppliers with issues, or not willing to be upfront with suppliers on what kind of quality is expected. From their perspective, there is a reputation they need to uphold; some suppliers will just stop selling to you if you keep trying to return material. Arguably, you don't want to be working with these types of suppliers anyways, but if purchasing price leads to more profits than quality's say will not really matter.

 

Who at the company handles supplier quality/approval? It should be handled by the quality dept. - this is your best tool to convince purchasing there is an issue.

 

We perform incoming inspections on raw material and results affect a supplier's score. If material is consistently contaminated this will be noted. Supplier quality issues are discussed at management meetings. Along with the cost of reworking material. 


Edited by eatmoreomega3s, 20 December 2019 - 06:09 PM.


#8 The Food Scientist

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Posted 20 December 2019 - 06:31 PM

I also work in herbs and spices, and we are dealing a similar issue - the purchasing dept. not wanting to go back to suppliers with issues, or not willing to be upfront with suppliers on what kind of quality is expected. From their perspective, there is a reputation they need to uphold; some suppliers will just stop selling to you if you keep trying to return material. Arguably, you don't want to be working with these types of suppliers anyways, but if purchasing price leads to more profits than quality's say will not really matter.

 

Who at the company handles supplier quality/approval? It should be handled by the quality dept. - this is your best tool to convince purchasing there is an issue.

 

We perform incoming inspections on raw material and results affect a supplier's score. If material is consistently contaminated this will be noted. Supplier quality issues are discussed at management meetings. Along with the cost of reworking material. 

 

Quality is responsible for approval, meaning me. But I am quite new to the company and this supplier they have been using them for a long time (I guess cheap prices and a good relationship). Purchasing knows there is an issue but is being ignorant due to the reasons Glenn has pointed out. I just sit and pull my hair because at the same time, colleague relationship is important. I could fight with purchasing if I wanted to. But i'ts not a resolution. 


Everything in food is science. The only subjective part is when you eat it. - Alton Brown.


#9 arahman

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Posted 20 December 2019 - 07:54 PM

Can you not leverage your customers/customer agreement with your company and go back to the purchasing manager and tell them this is required as per customers?

I often find when it makes sales/business sense people tend to fall in line faster rather than if its 'only' a quality issue.

Maybe escalate it to higher manager... directors, VP, President and show them requirements needed to be complaint to maintain SQF certificate and customer compliance.

Show them that its a been a trend with that particular supplier and show them in monetary values what could happen if there was a recall or complain from the customers and labour lost on your end



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#10 Hank Major

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Posted 20 December 2019 - 08:57 PM

Sounds like you have lost control of the foreign materials hazard.  I would first make sure that all suppliers are certified to a GFSI benchmark.  There is a distinct possibility that the are lying about their certification, so I would chase it back to the certifying body.  I would also ramp up microbial testing, since there is a good possibility that they are lying on their COAs.  Similarly, they is a chance that they are consistently sending underweight containers.  Even 1% underweight will wreck the purchasing manager's excuse that the supplier is cheaper. 

 

Next, I would start tracking the frequency, incidence, and prevalence of the foreign materials.  I would measure each piece to see if it falls within the FDA's 7 mm to 25 mm range.   I would track trends and demand a declining trendline. 



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#11 Charles.C

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Posted 21 December 2019 - 02:38 PM

I have an issue (one of the many issues I talk about here). Because I always like to hear it out from different people.

 

We are mid size spice and herb manufacturer. They were a lot worse than they are now but have been improving. I took over Quality Management recently and I am trying my best to improve many areas, We are SQF certified. 

 

So this is the issue. We have been packaging product into smaller packages from large boxes we receive from our suppliers. These products are herbs and spices. I have received two customer complaints complaining about foreign material. I went to investigate and found the root cause being that the product is coming in like this from our suppliers. Although supposedly they are approved suppliers. foreign material like plastics, hair, rocks...etc (stuff that cannot be metal detectable). I went to the floor and found boxes of packages the employees found to have foreign material (they visually saw them and took them off the lines). Now it is possible the employees could miss a few packages. Another employee told me when he opens the raw material box, he finds all sorts of foreign material, so I know for a fact that this is coming inside our facility from the supplier like this! Sooo we know the root cause right now. The issue is the purchasing manager we have. She kept arguing with me saying she will not go to our suppliers to argue with them about this issue. Me as the QA Manager informed her we must, because Supplier Controls are a PC we have in place, our raw material should go in our facility in every perfect way. She kept going on about how its an "our employee's" faults. My argument and prod manager's arguemtn is that Its not efficient to have our employees inspect EVERY single box that comes from supplier. Product should come from an APPROVED SUPPLIER WITH ZERO DEFECTS. PERIOD. I'ts definitely a challenge when the employees around you that play a critical role in your Food Safety System are this ignorant.

 

Has anyone been through anything like this before?

 

HI FS,

 

Frankly I am somewhat amazed that you have achieved SQF certification.

 

IMEX the first and Cardinal rule of Purchasing raw materials/Approving Suppliers is to have a mutually agreed specification.

 

It sounds like the above simply does not exist in this case so that you can unfortunately expect to become a "Sitting Duck" from a Quality Control POV.

 

PS - it also sounds like yr customers have no agreed specifications with you, so confusion all round ? :smile:


Kind Regards,

 

Charles.C


#12 The Food Scientist

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Posted 24 December 2019 - 02:50 PM

HI FS,

 

Frankly I am somewhat amazed that you have achieved SQF certification.

 

IMEX the first and Cardinal rule of Purchasing raw materials/Approving Suppliers is to have a mutually agreed specification.

 

It sounds like the above simply does not exist in this case so that you can unfortunately expect to become a "Sitting Duck" from a Quality Control POV.

 

PS - it also sounds like yr customers have no agreed specifications with you, so confusion all round ? :smile:

 

Oh trust me the APS was a mess before I got here. I am slowly working on making things right step by step and in getting rid of all unapproved/bad suppliers and this one is one of them that I am fighting my way to get rid of due to Foreign material!!!!! The purchasing manager doesn't and won't believe its from the supplier and refuses to argue with them about it. and yes no customer agreed specs either so I am having the time of my life  :silly:


Everything in food is science. The only subjective part is when you eat it. - Alton Brown.


#13 larissaj

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Posted 24 December 2019 - 03:40 PM

So in my head im thinking either change supplier or add an extra Control point, like sifters? We use sifter to get extra seasonings off nuts but it also helps with visual inspections.



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#14 The Food Scientist

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Posted 24 December 2019 - 04:16 PM

So in my head im thinking either change supplier or add an extra Control point, like sifters? We use sifter to get extra seasonings off nuts but it also helps with visual inspections.

 

Sifters won't really work well because the products that have the most foreign material are quite large. Herbs and whole spices. 


Everything in food is science. The only subjective part is when you eat it. - Alton Brown.


#15 Charles.C

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Posted 26 December 2019 - 01:46 AM

Oh trust me the APS was a mess before I got here. I am slowly working on making things right step by step and in getting rid of all unapproved/bad suppliers and this one is one of them that I am fighting my way to get rid of due to Foreign material!!!!! The purchasing manager doesn't and won't believe its from the supplier and refuses to argue with them about it. and yes no customer agreed specs either so I am having the time of my life  :silly:

 

Hi FS,

 

The (obvious) comment is where is the Senior Management commitment ? I sympathise.

 

I have encountered a partially analogous situation  where the risk of significant financial losses became (QA) demonstrably  unignorable.

 

Photographic responses to the supplier achieved nothing.

 

The final "solution" was to deduct a sum for the forced additional labour charges from successive lots, take it or leave it. They took it.


Kind Regards,

 

Charles.C


#16 mahantesh.micro

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Posted 26 December 2019 - 07:36 AM

Put the Supplier in "Blocked" list, reject the current stock having FM issue and send back the material to supplier. Ask your Purchasing manager to get the CAPA from supplier and let them work on implementation of corrective actions. Or else develop  new supplier. Revise supplier approval criteria and make it very stringent.



#17 The Food Scientist

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Posted 24 January 2020 - 08:59 PM

So as an update to this, I found a major issue in one of our products, I have had enough and went beyond what the "purchasing manager" wants. Because, It is not their decision. This is what I e-mailed the supplier: Feedback appreciated!

 

 

 

I am the Quality & Food Safety Manager.

 

Thank you for your constant professionalism in supplying us with the best products and delivery, we appreciate the relationship!

 

The reason for my e-mail is to express my dissatisfaction of the product “Whole Cloves”. The product COA looks good and we thank you for supplying us with that, however we are having major issues with foreign material and it is causing many delays and Non-conformances to our Food Safety Program. I attached some photos for your review, it is not limited to this material only, we find many things in there as well. (We have metal detectors)

 

If we can work together on knowing how to solve, and where and how the issue is occurring, would that be okay? Can you please forward to the manufacturer you purchase from this request? If you can ask them for a process map/HACCP plan so we can study exactly how this much foreign material is occurring?  As you can see in one picture, there seems to be some bird/rodent droppings. This is considered a food safety hazard.

 

I also attached a newly updated Supplier Approval Questionnaire for you to fill out and return to us with required documentation. I will be needing a letter indicating you are in compliance with FSMA Foreign Supplier Verification Program, if possible.

 

I appreciate your cooperation and whatever help you may get us into finding root cause with this and hopefully resolving.


Everything in food is science. The only subjective part is when you eat it. - Alton Brown.


#18 Timwoodbag

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Posted 24 January 2020 - 09:29 PM

I understand the dynamic, but still Too nice!!!



#19 The Food Scientist

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Posted 24 January 2020 - 09:47 PM

I understand the dynamic, but still Too nice!!!

 

I meaaaan I had to be nice  :silly: If it still happens, nice would be a thing of the past! 


Everything in food is science. The only subjective part is when you eat it. - Alton Brown.


#20 Njaquino

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Posted 24 January 2020 - 11:08 PM

I am dealing with this currently except purchasing is on my side. Purchasing & I, are constantly fighting with the supplier because they are ignoring our request. I told our procurement to look for someone else I am tired of this and the owner tells us not to look for someone else. It is a penny clenching game and this has been my biggest obstacle. If it were my purchasing and me we would get rid of every supplier we work with to start new. For now I am just documenting all my risk assessments followed by senior management responses. :( 



#21 Charles.C

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Posted 25 January 2020 - 03:48 AM

I am dealing with this currently except purchasing is on my side. Purchasing & I, are constantly fighting with the supplier because they are ignoring our request. I told our procurement to look for someone else I am tired of this and the owner tells us not to look for someone else. It is a penny clenching game and this has been my biggest obstacle. If it were my purchasing and me we would get rid of every supplier we work with to start new. For now I am just documenting all my risk assessments followed by senior management responses. :(

 

It is not a totally unheard of situation that, for various possible reasons, Purchasing Procedures may not always be totally devoid of internal bias.  If such exists, you will probably have to accept this constraint (while documentarily covering yr back)  or look for a new job.


Kind Regards,

 

Charles.C


#22 VThiruselvi

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Posted 07 July 2020 - 06:18 AM

On my side, the Purchasing manager really help us in inquiring and feedback on the safety and quality issue. Once the issue has arise, he is the first person contacted to the supplier and request for the action plan immediately. 






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