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FSQA.2016

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Posted 31 August 2021 - 04:28 PM

Hello, 

 

5 years ago I started at a company after doing a few career changes (early 30's me)  trying to find my place in the working world, and I stumbled into a third party food storage position, and quickly showed an aptitude for Food Safety and red tape. (previous work experience in culinary and legal helped) 

 

I was moved into a HACCP position within 5 months, and provided with an online course to become a HACCP Coordinator, and left alone (literally alone)  to manage our one HACCP plan, and grow the plan to cover our other locations and assist some select  customers with their plans, which helped expand my knowledge immensely as they had much more experience and Science degrees, with my interest in science and following programs and "rules" I was a shoe in and fell in love with Hazard Identification (form 5-9)

 

5 years later, the world of Food Safety is changing in Canada and the programs we follow are becoming less and less prescriptive (FSEP was easy to follow- they told you what to do!) Now, we fall under SFCR and now need to have a Preventative Control Plan, and FSEP is a thing of the past and we are trying for SQF, which we all know is quite onerous, and we are not where we need to be. 

 

I am responsible for ensuring 6 locations stay complaint, we have some locations with an Establishment number for meat storage and others with SFCR Licenses, and trying for SQF. 

 

They are considering hiring a SQFA supervisor to go above me (although I do this role- technically) or hire a consultant, as I have no one to turn to but this community when I have questions.  When I ask for help, I am told I need to prioritize better, and only do what customers need, and I feel like I am drowning in work and we have another location coming in 16 months. 

 

I love working in this field, but I need help. 

 

I am starting to feel like an outcast of the company and they tell me what is going to be done when temperature issues arise, and that my job is just to support Operations and keep the company complaint.  I no longer deal with temperature issues in rooms, operations does that with our refrigeration contractors, and I am left out of it. 

 

I have never done this job in another setting, and I am starting to feel rather (lack of another word) "bullied" into doing what will make us look good, and not needed,  and "my job is not to do root cause analysis" that is for other ppl, like operations and warehouse supervisors, I just "report" facts, then get dumped on when those facts look bad. 

 

Has anyone else been in a similar position?  How did you handle it? How did you grow and be/become the FSQA person you are today? or did you just say "SOD this" and quit and found a new position or career?

 

I have looked at doing classes in Food Safety, but in my province there are not many to none available and FSQA are hard to come by. 

 

Thank you for reading my vent/rant, and any advice or similar situations I would love  to hear. 

 



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Scampi

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Posted 31 August 2021 - 04:35 PM

They are not wrong---a HACCP coordinators job has ALWAYS been to support operations---you may not like to hear that, but there it is in black and white

 

However, you should be LEADING the root cause discussions, that IS part of your job

 

Talking directly to refridgeration companies?  No, not your job

 

After ALL of that, I've been in your shoes-----------it does not get better----------it sounds like the company does not understand that your function is highly specialized, and if you don't understand what's happening all over the plant, and in every department, you cannot do your job.   Run, do not walk, to the next job


Please stop referring to me as Sir/sirs


FSQA.2016

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Posted 31 August 2021 - 04:43 PM

Hello Scampi, 

 

I appreciate the feedback and being told that a HACCP Coordinators job is just to report is nice to hear, I am also the SQF Practitioner for the company which I think is what blurs the lines from dealing with auditors in preaudits. 

 

I rarely know what is going on, I feel like an outsider and am only brought in when senior management feel it is needed, or when I hear "things" that are happening and go to senior management to discuss. 

 

I have always struggled with knowing what "my job" is other than keeping the company compliant, and whatever else they need me to fill a gap for that day/week/month.  (we were a small company who is experiencing a huge growth) 

 

Without a Bachelor in Science, and only working at this one place, my options are VERY limited, unfortunately 



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Posted 31 August 2021 - 04:46 PM

Hello,

 

This is what I like to ask, after going through what you are going, or at least similar situation or two:

 

Do you want to be Certified or Compliant? There is a big difference, when I was discussing a contract with a customer, he emphasized that ALL he wanted was to pass and he didn't care how.  To me, this is the type of attitude that makes me question, who really runs the food industry?

 

There are far too many companies ran by what they want and not by doing the right thing, my background in culinary arts has reinforced the fact that we don't want anybody sick or dead under our watch.

 

My approach was to just focus on making sure, and ask, that all daily, weekly, monthly, etc. monitoring is done.  Update your documents and focus on root cause, this will allow you to be ahead of the pack in recognizing issues and bringing solutions to assign to departments in charge of non-compliance.  Write everything down, find alliance with the staff on other departments, have lunch with them and ask how they feel about food safety.  I always say that we are making sure the company has a license to drive.

 

Let's Connect,

 

Rey



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Posted 31 August 2021 - 04:50 PM

Hello Scampi, 

 

I appreciate the feedback and being told that a HACCP Coordinators job is just to report is nice to hear, I am also the SQF Practitioner for the company which I think is what blurs the lines from dealing with auditors in preaudits. 

 

I rarely know what is going on, I feel like an outsider and am only brought in when senior management feel it is needed, or when I hear "things" that are happening and go to senior management to discuss. 

 

I have always struggled with knowing what "my job" is other than keeping the company compliant, and whatever else they need me to fill a gap for that day/week/month.  (we were a small company who is experiencing a huge growth) 

 

Without a Bachelor in Science, and only working at this one place, my options are VERY limited, unfortunately 

Don't underestimate yourself: you are an SQF practitioner, and you already have experience. Believe me, there's a company somewhere which you would fit perfectly, just keep searching and advertising yourself. I started as an independent consultant having NO food safety practical experience and found 4 clients within 1.5 years.



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Posted 31 August 2021 - 05:04 PM

They are not wrong---a HACCP coordinators job has ALWAYS been to support operations---you may not like to hear that, but there it is in black and white

 

However, you should be LEADING the root cause discussions, that IS part of your job

 

Talking directly to refridgeration companies?  No, not your job

 

After ALL of that, I've been in your shoes-----------it does not get better----------it sounds like the company does not understand that your function is highly specialized, and if you don't understand what's happening all over the plant, and in every department, you cannot do your job.   Run, do not walk, to the next job

 

I agree with this comment, I was in a worse situation and lost faith in manufacturing, I went to the far end and am now in the regulatory field. But there are many companies that look for someone that understands that your job is not 'just to get them through audits' which is always an indication of something far worse in the management/senior management areas.



Scampi

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Posted 31 August 2021 - 05:10 PM

For the record, I have 20+ years in food safety and I do not have a uni degree either!

 

Do not sell your self short, this is a company management style issue, and not the issue of whether or not you are capable

 

Audits etc. yep, that's totally on your plate and if they don't see it that way, move along

 

Best advice I ever got---------a job posting is a WISH list, so apply apply apply, and win them over in the interview

 

In this field, having a B Sc will help, but it can also hinder, and there are very very few (1 I believe) uni programs that focuses specifically on food safety via risk analysis (U of G in Ontario)


Please stop referring to me as Sir/sirs


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Posted 31 August 2021 - 05:11 PM

I think we've all been in your shoes from time to time. Heck, I have a habit of picking bad places just to try to make them better (I like to fix things) so I have run into this culture a few times.

Right now is a pretty good time to be looking. It's an employee's market, so to speak.

At least here stateside...



MDaleDDF

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Posted 31 August 2021 - 05:24 PM

I don't have a degree in any such field either.   I have 3 BA's, each more useless than the last.   My wife says I collect degrees.   One I got just as an excuse to live overseas!   Lol.    I don't really consider myself a food scientist anyway.   I'm an artist, that's what I do, and I'm also a dam* good manager, so being lead on anything is very comfortable to me.   I've definitely done my classes and all that since I've been in the biz the last 14 or so years, but I digress...enough about me.

 

I do concur with the idea that a consultant can be helpful, especially when just starting out toward your cert.   It's like the dad push when you're learning to ride a bicycle.   When we started after the FSSC 22k cert, I literally had people laugh in my face and say "You'll NEVER get that...", which of course we did, and our consultant helped walk me thorough everything that was scary.   Then after I could get both feet on the pedals, away I went....



kfromNE

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Posted 31 August 2021 - 06:14 PM

How you get good at FSQA - you do like you did in the past. Learn by doing. I read a lot. I came into my first job with a background in restaurant food safety. I wrote the companies food safety plan within 2 months of being there.

 

I have a two master degrees that are not a 100% related to my job. That being said - you don't need a college degree in this field to do well. It's more about the skill sets you have. Most people with college degrees, including myself, don't go to school looking to become a food safety practitioner. We stumble upon it. My first job was in a nursing home out of college. In the US, a food science or animal degree is about the closest related degree to this field.

 

Like others have said - you are selling yourself short.



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Posted 31 August 2021 - 06:30 PM

I feel for you.  Definitely a tough spot and yeah I've been there a couple times.  I would opt to bring in a consultant.  They can help with the programs needed, but can also give you advice personally AND they can help sell the need to get you the help you need to ensure the company maintains compliance.  Even with just warehouse 6 facilities is a lot for one person to manage the food safety systems, and I'm assuming any quality issues as well.

 

You are selling yourself short.  Heck I could use you right now...we've had a bugger of a time finding a QA Supervisor at one of our facilities.  Put all of this on paper....what are the things you like about your work, what do you not like, what do you want, what do you want the company to do, where the company is in terms of meeting compliance and what do they need.  Once you really start evaluating all of this and putting it on paper you'll be amazed how clear things become.



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Posted 31 August 2021 - 07:16 PM

FSQA said i part ---

 

Without a Bachelor in Science, and only working at this one place, my options are VERY limited, unfortunately 

 

..........................................

 

That's utter BS, you want to make your cage and stay in you go right ahead, or you can take all of your great experience and leveage it!

 

I got my first high-pay position as a QA Hotel Inspector without a high school certificate.  It has nothing to do with a piece of paper!


Kind regards,
Glenn Oster
 
GOC BUSINESS GROUP | SQF System Development, Implementation & Certification Consultants
Internal Auditor Training - eConsultant Retainer Subscriptions - Pre & Post SQF-GAP Audits - Consultant Training
Visit us @ http://www.GlennOster.com  or call us @ 772.646.4115 US-EST 8am-4pm Anyday except Thursday
 
 

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Posted 01 September 2021 - 09:49 PM

Hi FSQA,

 

My sympathies. Yr woes are sadly very similar to many of the QA biographies/rants occasionally posted here which surely  reflect a sizeable community in the Food World.

 

You didn't mention what kind of food business is involved which may have some specific sensitivity relevances. I daresay there may also be financial constraints regarding feasible alternatives ?.

 

Regardless, it sounds like yr Company Management (Culture?)  have the, not-so-uncommon IMEX, viewpoint that Production is "King" and QA is primarily there to "satisfy" Customer Quality/Safety/Legality/documentation requirements. This Due Diligence function (aka "back-covering") has become increasingly complex thanks to GFSI, FSMA and Friends with QA as the conveniently inevitable beneficiary of the related demands.

 

Unfortunately Pay-Grades rarely compensate for increased QA responsibilities (It's part of the "job" !).

 

As per Post 2, a frequent conclusion is to either "make the most of a bad "job"" or exit asap. (Actually having had some  related work experience often well satisfies many minimal expectations although Certificates do count for Big Boys IMEX [On-Line options?]).


Kind Regards,

 

Charles.C


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Posted 23 September 2021 - 09:43 PM

FSQA, join the club.  I have been HACCP Coordinator for 10+ years.  When I first started it was all about HACCP, the CFIA and inspections.  Life was good as I had a lot to learn back then, my degree was nothing to do with science either.  But then things changed, senior management maybe saw how well we did in the few areas I had responsibility over and started adding more and more tasks.  I now handle triple the jobs I did in the beginning, but it all gets done.  

 

SFCR has not been that bad yet, you just need to realize it is all a different way of looking at HACCP. We just completed our first ( yes first ever) inspection last week, wrote up a cheat sheet for each element with what I thought would be required and they never strayed from what I supplied.

 

Keep the old chin up.



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Posted 24 September 2021 - 04:21 PM

I think we've all been in your shoes from time to time. Heck, I have a habit of picking bad places just to try to make them better (I like to fix things) so I have run into this culture a few times.

Right now is a pretty good time to be looking. It's an employee's market, so to speak.

At least here stateside...

 

Not going to hijack this thread but I'm currently in a similar situation as the OP. We are a local wholesale distribution/ Repack facility that delivers to restaurant's, country's clubs, etc. I was promoted to the "Food Safety Manager" in March 3 days before our Prelim Primus GFS audit, and things have been rocky to say the least. At first the owners backed me then when I started spending money and telling them what needed to be done regarding building maintenance and general safety is when things started to go down hill (yes the writing was on the wall way before that because we were always butting heads). Where I'm at the want the certification without actually having to do what's required for it. for example "Make up all the documents and everything needed for the audit. and we will fill out of the documents etc right before the audit. Your primary duty is buying Food Safety is a secondary duty" I could go on for awhile but I wont. Long story short is this place is ran like its still 1972 and that the GFSI audits are a scheme by Sysco and Us Foods to put the little man out of business that came out of the owners mouth.

 

I got an email today from one of the owners cussing me out because I never leave my office to go pull orders, run the drivers office, or help out with walk-in customers in the drivers office which is also in a food storage area (we are in one of the old Produce terminal buildings built all over the country back in the 60's) there is not much I can do about that. And he restructured the management in the same email where I no longer report to the GM I have to report to the daytime warehouse manager and do anything he says. I have a deadline of 3 months to get the audit completed or its my job, I cant actually do my job because I'm a warehouse grunt first and foremost in the owners eyes just like all the other managers. 

 

I am looking for another job because I cant deal with this anymore its too much stress when things change daily... Wanting me to forge documents which I refuse to do. Told the owner that them or I need to take the PCQI certification and when I told them how much it cost I was kicked out of their office with them saying this as I walked out "The second you pay me and I don’t pay you is when you can tell me what to do." They are always going on this Loyalty crap about being loyal to them and the company, well when you treat your employees like s**t you reap what you sow. FYI I had a HVAC/R guy our here yesterday giving me quotes for monthly pm and cleaning, He said that if EPA came out here we would be shut down the contracted friend of the family Moron has tanks of 404-a, hot shot 2, etc connected to every condenser...  

 

Don't let crappy management or ownership effect your mental health, ethics, etc. Just move on.

 

DownTheRabbitHoleWeGo


Edited by DownTheRabbitHoleWeGo, 24 September 2021 - 04:25 PM.


TimG

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Posted 24 September 2021 - 04:47 PM

Yikes..

That sounds like a Kobayashi Maru situation, Downtherabbithole. It's unfortunate there are still manufacturing plants out there with this mentality, however, there is a power shift (employer/employee) happening right now that I have not seen in my time. Only time will tell how that shakes out..



DownTheRabbitHoleWeGo

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Posted 24 September 2021 - 04:50 PM

Yikes..

That sounds like a Kobayashi Maru situation, Downtherabbithole. It's unfortunate there are still manufacturing plants out there with this mentality, however, there is a power shift (employer/employee) happening right now that I have not seen in my time. Only time will tell how that shakes out..

 

yea that's so true we are understaffed and anyone that comes by will ask what we pay and when they hear $10.50 for 1am-9am warehouse and $13.50 for delivery drivers 5a-2p they don't even ask for an application.

 

We are also an At-will state so we will see what happens


Edited by DownTheRabbitHoleWeGo, 24 September 2021 - 04:51 PM.


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FSQA.2016

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Posted 24 September 2021 - 05:09 PM

Hello "Downtherabbitholewego" 

 

I cannot imagine how frustrated you must be feeling, that does sound like a challenging situation.  I hope you find a better job, where management will value you and treat you better. I could never imagine an employer talking to me the way you describe you've been spoken to. 

 

Thank you for sharing, I am finding our field is not always a walk in the park. 

 

All the best in your future! 

Not going to hijack this thread but I'm currently in a similar situation as the OP. We are a local wholesale distribution/ Repack facility that delivers to restaurant's, country's clubs, etc. I was promoted to the "Food Safety Manager" in March 3 days before our Prelim Primus GFS audit, and things have been rocky to say the least. At first the owners backed me then when I started spending money and telling them what needed to be done regarding building maintenance and general safety is when things started to go down hill (yes the writing was on the wall way before that because we were always butting heads). Where I'm at the want the certification without actually having to do what's required for it. for example "Make up all the documents and everything needed for the audit. and we will fill out of the documents etc right before the audit. Your primary duty is buying Food Safety is a secondary duty" I could go on for awhile but I wont. Long story short is this place is ran like its still 1972 and that the GFSI audits are a scheme by Sysco and Us Foods to put the little man out of business that came out of the owners mouth.

 

I got an email today from one of the owners cussing me out because I never leave my office to go pull orders, run the drivers office, or help out with walk-in customers in the drivers office which is also in a food storage area (we are in one of the old Produce terminal buildings built all over the country back in the 60's) there is not much I can do about that. And he restructured the management in the same email where I no longer report to the GM I have to report to the daytime warehouse manager and do anything he says. I have a deadline of 3 months to get the audit completed or its my job, I cant actually do my job because I'm a warehouse grunt first and foremost in the owners eyes just like all the other managers. 

 

I am looking for another job because I cant deal with this anymore its too much stress when things change daily... Wanting me to forge documents which I refuse to do. Told the owner that them or I need to take the PCQI certification and when I told them how much it cost I was kicked out of their office with them saying this as I walked out "The second you pay me and I don’t pay you is when you can tell me what to do." They are always going on this Loyalty crap about being loyal to them and the company, well when you treat your employees like s**t you reap what you sow. FYI I had a HVAC/R guy our here yesterday giving me quotes for monthly pm and cleaning, He said that if EPA came out here we would be shut down the contracted friend of the family Moron has tanks of 404-a, hot shot 2, etc connected to every condenser...  

 

Don't let crappy management or ownership effect your mental health, ethics, etc. Just move on.

 

DownTheRabbitHoleWeGo



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Posted 24 September 2021 - 05:16 PM

Thank you everyone for your feed back, stories and recommendations, I have built a box around myself thinking I could not leave or find a different company that would value and pay me what I know I deserve. 

 

As luck has had it, my company has hired a Quality Manager who will also double in a different role, their primarily role is to drive the SQF & Costco GDP audits across the finish line, and mentor me. So that I can get to the level of knowledge that the company needs me to be so I can eventually move into the Quality Manager role. 

 

There is a long road ahead, the company is showing they want to have a good Food Safety Culture. I have felt overwhelmed between work and personal issues, that having someone who has worked at other places and done this job for over 10 years, will help. 

 

Again, thank you to you all for sharing your stories and recommendations. I have a lot more to think about, and where I want to see myself in a few more years. 

 

I would eventually love to do auditing, for Food Storage & Distribution (that is the sector I am in now) so I can live in the area of BC I want (with land and maybe a horse) and not have the daily commute. 



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Posted 24 September 2021 - 05:24 PM

Minimum wage is much lower in USA. Our minimum wage in BC is $15.20 (CND [12.01 USD]) most of our warehouse employees start off at $19-23 (CND[15.01-18.17 USD]) per hour and we struggle to get ppl due to CERB and COVID. 

 

It is hard out there to get good employees

yea that's so true we are understaffed and anyone that comes by will ask what we pay and when they hear $10.50 for 1am-9am warehouse and $13.50 for delivery drivers 5a-2p they don't even ask for an application.

 

We are also an At-will state so we will see what happens



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Posted 24 September 2021 - 05:28 PM

Hi Jim, 

 

SFCR has been a challenge as we still run off of the FSEP, but there are things we don't need to do. As I mentioned in my post below, we have hired a Quality Manager, to help stream line things, and take more off my plate so I can focus solely on Food Safety and be mentored to eventually step into that role as we grow. 

 

It is a challenge not having the MOP (never thought I'd say that)  or regular checks, I find things slip not having that constant reminder, from CFIA.  I hope things change a little,  I struggle with the validation and GAP Assessments, 5 locations I feel is too much to handle for myself with my capabilities, so I am thankful for the new manager- after I had a long talk with HR ensuring I was not being booted. 

 

FSQA, join the club.  I have been HACCP Coordinator for 10+ years.  When I first started it was all about HACCP, the CFIA and inspections.  Life was good as I had a lot to learn back then, my degree was nothing to do with science either.  But then things changed, senior management maybe saw how well we did in the few areas I had responsibility over and started adding more and more tasks.  I now handle triple the jobs I did in the beginning, but it all gets done.  

 

SFCR has not been that bad yet, you just need to realize it is all a different way of looking at HACCP. We just completed our first ( yes first ever) inspection last week, wrote up a cheat sheet for each element with what I thought would be required and they never strayed from what I supplied.

 

Keep the old chin up.



FSQA.2016

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Posted 24 September 2021 - 05:31 PM

Hi Charles, 

 

I work in Food Storage and Distribution. 

 

We are a small company of 50-ish employees and 5 locations, and have staffing issues due to locations not on bus routes. 

 

With the addition of the Quality Manager ( see my post above) I hope things will get better. 

 

I am looking at in person classes (thankfully they are coming back) through BCIT for a certificate program, or fully online through University of Guelph in Ontario.  

 

Hi FSQA,

 

My sympathies. Yr woes are sadly very similar to many of the QA biographies/rants occasionally posted here which surely  reflect a sizeable community in the Food World.

 

You didn't mention what kind of food business is involved which may have some specific sensitivity relevances. I daresay there may also be financial constraints regarding feasible alternatives ?.

 

Regardless, it sounds like yr Company Management (Culture?)  have the, not-so-uncommon IMEX, viewpoint that Production is "King" and QA is primarily there to "satisfy" Customer Quality/Safety/Legality/documentation requirements. This Due Diligence function (aka "back-covering") has become increasingly complex thanks to GFSI, FSMA and Friends with QA as the conveniently inevitable beneficiary of the related demands.

 

Unfortunately Pay-Grades rarely compensate for increased QA responsibilities (It's part of the "job" !).

 

As per Post 2, a frequent conclusion is to either "make the most of a bad "job"" or exit asap. (Actually having had some  related work experience often well satisfies many minimal expectations although Certificates do count for Big Boys IMEX [On-Line options?]).







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