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How to respond to a customer complaint about a sick employee on site visit?

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The Food Scientist

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Posted 05 October 2022 - 05:52 PM

Hi everyone, quick question

 

we recently had a customer visit for a trial run of a product. One employee (the QA manager) who was walking them through the facility, had a cold and obviously kept blowing her nose all the time. (she had a mask on). obviously they didnt like it and wrote this 

 

 

One employee had cold & she was blowing her nose through facility & was not washing her hands after touching nose. 

 

 

And they want a corrective action done for this. But I just cannot come up with a action for this lol. 

 

The QA manager is not a food handler, she doesn't and did not work on the line. It also wont make sense to constantly wash hands after every time she blew her nose, since you keep blowing your nose when you catch a cold. The facility is a juice bottler, it is all an enclosed system too.

 

What would be a good response to this ?? Any suggestions? 


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


olenazh

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Posted 05 October 2022 - 06:24 PM

Choose another management rep for walking visitors through the facility, if QA rep is sick. And you're right - no need to wash hands every time after blowing nose, it's stupid.



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kfromNE

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Posted 05 October 2022 - 06:30 PM

I would respond with - I know you are concerned and food safety is our number one priority. (Acknowledge their concern) Then state your policy about handwashing.

For this particular incident - you can say the QA Manager was reminded that if she were to be in contact with food/food contact items, she would do.........



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Scotty_SQF

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Posted 05 October 2022 - 06:48 PM

This was a customer visit and not a customer audit correct?  If it was just a visit, you don't have to provide any type of corrective action in my opinion.  I would recommend what the other fine people above have said.  Acknowledge their concern and state your policy.  Also, totally agree the next time there is a visit, if the person selected to show them around has a cold, have someone else step in.



G M

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Posted 05 October 2022 - 06:51 PM

I have to think after COVID every business would have a policy for sick employees staying home as a preventative for personnel safety.  It has been standard practice for food safety for a long time.  This type of policy would preclude the need for repetitive handwashing, because an ill person shouldn't be in the production area in the first place and someone else should have been the representative/escort.



Scampi

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Posted 05 October 2022 - 06:53 PM

I'm going to be the naysayer here

 

She should have excused herself from the walk through if she knew she could not make it through the tour without blowing her nose

 

Food processing 101---if you touch your face, blow your nose, pick something off the ground etc., you must wash your hands after

 

A)  it's gross

 

B) practice what you preach

 

C) scientifically, yes please wash your hands EVERY TIME after blowing your nose

 

D) If i were the customer, it would make me think what other short cuts are you taking 

 

I agree with GM

 

Also note GFSI require you to have a policy for visibly sick employees, so you don't have one, your CA could be the writing and implementation of such a policy


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The Food Scientist

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Posted 05 October 2022 - 07:09 PM

This was a customer visit and not a customer audit correct?  If it was just a visit, you don't have to provide any type of corrective action in my opinion.  I would recommend what the other fine people above have said.  Acknowledge their concern and state your policy.  Also, totally agree the next time there is a visit, if the person selected to show them around has a cold, have someone else step in.

 

technically it was a visit but to see a trial of product we will make for them ( mind you they are an existing customer), but geez their QA manager acting like she was an auditor lol. 


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


SQFconsultant

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Posted 05 October 2022 - 07:49 PM

She should nor have done the walk with them.

I would write that in the future any employee that is sick will be prevented from working. Etc.

I walked with a new customer but the owner of the company insisted on coming akong even though he had a bad cold and was coughing up loogies.

The customer stopped being a customer - your company was fortunate they only asked for a ca.


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Charles.C

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Posted 06 October 2022 - 07:03 AM

Hi FS,

 

Mistakes happen. I have previously encountered the reverse event, an important visitor with a visible cold ! Refuse entry ??

 

I wondered why the response problem has come to you. :smile:

 

Some Companies have a (legalistic) Policy to never "apologize".

 

IMEX the style of response, if any, may depend on the criticism's context,  eg are there any onward Political sensitivities/Leverages in Play ?, Was the nose criticism one amongst a hundred others ? Do you have to protect any "Backs" ?

 

If you must respond directly, as per previous Posts, A RCA Policy Review  sounds impressive. :smile:


Kind Regards,

 

Charles.C


Scotty_SQF

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Posted 06 October 2022 - 11:20 AM

Gets under my skin slightly when you have a visit and they turn around and act like an auditor.

 

Having said that completely agree with others.  That manager shouldn't have walked the visitors around, you want to put your best face forward for any type of visit.

 

As Charles said, mistakes do happen.  Especially when you are proud of the work you do and your company.  You want to show them around and sometimes lose common sense on something like this.  At a place I once worked, the VP of Quality, walked around a big customer of ours on the floor, get this...wearing a dress and all her jewelry.  When I heard about it, I was not happy.  The next customer visit I had with the customer, I received lots of questions regarding her attire.  I was able to get around it by saying she was talked to after the visit and she just honestly wanted to make a good impression and was nervous and forgot.  No excuse really but mistakes happen.  I believe she sent an apology letter and the company also apologized.



MDaleDDF

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Posted 06 October 2022 - 12:05 PM

Mannnnnn, I'm with Scampi.   If I were visiting and someone was doing that the whole time, I wouldn't dig it either.

 

This is why I don't let customers visit.   We did it once, and that was the end of that for me.   I'm lucky in that, not many of my customers are going to walk away, they need me more than I need them kinda thing.   I know many of you guys don't have that kind of leverage.



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