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How to turn down a customer request for a copy of our process flow chart and HACCP summary based on confidentiality?


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#1 carine

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Posted 20 February 2020 - 08:59 AM

Dear all, 

 

We had been requested by customer  to forward over process flow chart and HACCP sumary plan prior to their  factory visit.  Any way to turn down of their request in view of the doc is private n confidential? 



#2 pHruit

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Posted 20 February 2020 - 09:18 AM

Yes, you can say something to the effect of: "Unfortunately we are unable to share these documents as they contain confidential information. We are happy to allow access to these during site visits and audits".
There are a few threads about this type of thing, but broadly it's a balance between protecting data that is actually confidential, vs. coming across as unhelpful and pushing customers towards your competitors whom they may deem more helpful.

 

For HACCP I know of quite a few sites that prepare a simplified flow diagram and CCP summary so that they have something they can send to customers that covers the key food safety bits they're probably interested in, whilst protecting details the site wants to keep confidential. You could try that?

 

 



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#3 Brendan Triplett

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Posted 20 February 2020 - 11:44 AM

pHruit is right on this one.  We deny requests like this but handle them by sending a letter guaranteeing that we have a HACCP and Food Safety Plan and that it can be readily viewed upon request during any onsite visit.  SQFI and the FDA are onboard with this and do not require you to give your plan to anyone.  In fact, the only group that I allow to take portions of it from our building is the FDA and the are sworn to secrecy when it comes to handling your documents after they leave your facility.

 

Cheers!


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


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#4 QAGB

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Posted 20 February 2020 - 01:06 PM

Agreed with the above. You basically control how much information you want to divulge, but as pHruit said, you do risk your customers moving to a supplier that is willing to be more transparent.

 

We would only share our flow diagrams with our regular customers. IF we were co-manufacturing though for any customers, we would share a bit more detail because there's a lot more involvement at that level.



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#5 The Food Scientist

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Posted 20 February 2020 - 01:54 PM

Well I sometimes ask certain suppliers for that info as part of my supplier evaluation, especially if they are a critical one. From what you are saying I am assuming you are there supplier and they are coming to audit you (they are your customer). They just wanted to see how your processes are like before they come in. You supply them with product, they want to evaluate you.  I see no issue with supplying them with the documentation? But you control how much you give them and what you think should be given out and what not... Unless I am missing something....


Edited by The Food Scientist, 20 February 2020 - 01:55 PM.

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


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#6 carine

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Posted 21 February 2020 - 04:52 AM

Dear pH fruit, 

 

i would not going to  prepare a simplified flow chart n HACCP summary to the potential customer as i find it complicated. Anyway, thanks for you advice and input. 

Yes, you can say something to the effect of: "Unfortunately we are unable to share these documents as they contain confidential information. We are happy to allow access to these during site visits and audits".
There are a few threads about this type of thing, but broadly it's a balance between protecting data that is actually confidential, vs. coming across as unhelpful and pushing customers towards your competitors whom they may deem more helpful.

 

For HACCP I know of quite a few sites that prepare a simplified flow diagram and CCP summary so that they have something they can send to customers that covers the key food safety bits they're probably interested in, whilst protecting details the site wants to keep confidential. You could try that?



#7 carine

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Posted 21 February 2020 - 04:54 AM

Dear The food Scientisr, 

 

They are not our customer yet. A new potential customer whom wish to audit on our site beforehand place order.   

Well I sometimes ask certain suppliers for that info as part of my supplier evaluation, especially if they are a critical one. From what you are saying I am assuming you are there supplier and they are coming to audit you (they are your customer). They just wanted to see how your processes are like before they come in. You supply them with product, they want to evaluate you.  I see no issue with supplying them with the documentation? But you control how much you give them and what you think should be given out and what not... Unless I am missing something....



#8 Brendan Triplett

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Posted 21 February 2020 - 11:02 AM

This is the letter that we have used for customers requesting this information.  I have had SQFI, NSF and the FDA review it and they all agree that it does the job.  Hope it helps. 

 

Cheers!

Attached Files


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


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#9 TimG

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Posted 21 February 2020 - 03:05 PM

Hello Carine, I don't have much to add as there were some great examples of how to handle it. I did want to chime in and say that we too have a confidential manufacturing flow chart, and I was at first apprehensive about how I would convey this to customers when they requested it. 

When I get a request, I go with the following: 

Please note: Our manufacturing process flow diagram is considered proprietary and will not be provided. However, I have included the current HACCP plan with process hazard analysis, and the 2019 signed HACCP review sheet)

 

I haven't had any kickback on it yet, and from reading these replies it's not that uncommon. 






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