We had an excellent session with Thompson’s Limited focusing on their best practices and experiences relating to food safety and SQF certification. In true networking fashion, our Speaker Amir Naveed, Corporate Quality Assurance Manager, did a fabulous job sharing practical tips for developing a food safety and quality model.
Food Safety Culture Ingredients – Core Elements:
One of the areas that our Speaker felt was most important was around the concept of developing the right quality culture throughout the organization, including in processes and with the people. Systems are most effective when shared by all levels (ie. beliefs, visions, working towards an end in mind, considering risk management factors, etc. etc.). His top ten ingredients when it comes to developing a good food safety culture follow below:
1. Management Commitment
Leadership at the top provides vision, creates expectations and inspires the workforce to follow them. When it comes to Food Safety – we need Leadership (engaging people to follow/committed to doing the right thing) plus Management (to maintain processes and systems).
Management commitment has to be strategic and come from the top down. Resources need to be supported and available (Maintenance Systems and Processes, training, certification, auditing – spending on good business requirements). It is a long-term commitment – not unlike any continuous improvement initiative. And, to gauge success and open the door to other opportunities, Periodic Reviews should be conducted (Monthly Scorecards/Management Reviews).
2. Food Safety Expectations
It is important to determine where you are currently and what your expectations are. It’s also necessary to remember that old adage that you “Cannot manage what you cannot measure…” With that in mind, make sure your goals are simple, understandable, achievable and set high enough. Plan to communicate those expectations repeatedly.
Consider your current state (how knowledgeable are the Operators? What are the supplier and customer expectations? Survey to gauge the level of Food Safety culture and what can they do to reach the top? GAP requirements via standards? Culture?)
3. Process Focused/GFSI Certification
A Quality Management System can act as a base for certification. A company can customize QMS to their site or organization (Thompsons has 7 certified facilities).
4. People Focused
We talked about the importance of engagement and making our programs employee focused. Thompsons looks at means in which to motivate their staff, keeping in mind things such as change management, environmental issues, and personal factors (work life balance).
5. System Based Behavioural Approach
Through a system based behavioural approach, they are able to identify key issues where behaviour is critical. By establishing current behaviour (lack of training, resources), a company can intervene with targeted training/development as needed. This also provides a means in which to identify task leaders and role models. In their own particular case, they have a standardized skill set but it is customized for each facility.
6. Change Management
Change Management starts at the very top with stakeholders and inevitably involves every layer of the organization. To be effective, involve as many as possible in the vision right from the beginning and make a formal case for change. Create ownership at every level and communicate often – keeping everything forefront on people’s minds.
7. Implement Best Practices
Thompsons didn’t change a lot before their certification but afterwards they did. Our Speaker emphasized the importance of identifying and implementing best practices for each layer of the organization (Managers/Company/Supervisors/Office). By involving everyone, there is more “buy-in” with respect to processes and learning (training, food safety hazards, unsafe practices, skill sets, cognitive testing, etc.). There are periodic reviews as well. Involvement also helps identify task leaders and role models.
8. Performance Indicators and Measurement Tools – KPI’s
An objective is either “achieved or not achieved”
- Lagging indicators – outcome based (complaints, food borne reports, etc.)
- Leading indicators – process (HACCP, monitoring, auditors, behaviour, knowledge assessments, etc.) – “leads you to the outcome”
9. Motivation and Empowerment
From a motivational standpoint we talked about competence, connectedness and choice. And we looked at empowerment through Food Safety Education vs. Training.
Everyone at Thompsons believes and practices in “the right thing to do”. Food Safety culture development is ongoing not unlike any continuous improvement model. An excellent slide from our Speaker’s presentation demonstrates that Model very well:
When it comes to Certification, using GFSI as an example – divide standards into different sections and review with each relevant group (ie. Maintenance) so they know expectations. If you take the opportunity to interpret the language into something group understands and relates to – it allows you to identify gaps and helps remove ambiguity and confusion.
Food Safety Culture Tools
- Measureable Goals/Expectations
- Measurement Tools/Reviews
- Reward and Recognition
- QMS – Quality Management System
- Best Practices/Standardization
- Task Leaders/Role Models
- Targeted Training/Empowerment
We also chatted about Auditors - their role, the importance of partnering with an auditing body early, making use of their GAP analysis, communication essentials, and knowing your justification well enough supporting the belief in your system.
Sharing food safety practices can help build your program from the base. Working out justifications could actually work into a CI opportunity as long as it’s not in violation of a standard.
A great presentation with lots of ideas and thoughts and peer discussion around implementing a Food Safety and Quality Model!
Information shared during this event included:
“Dear Supplier, You Must Be Certified; Resistance is Futile”, Tatiana Lorca and John G. Surak, Food Safety Magazine, August-September 2015, pp 26-28.
“Traceability Today”, Ron Wasik, Food In Canada, August 2014, p. 19
“Food Safety Culture: Insurance Against Catastrophe”, Gary Ades, Ken Leith and Patti Leith, Food Safety Magazine, October-November 2014
“Creating a Culture of Food Safety”, Geoff Schaadt, Food Safety Magazine, June-July 2013
“Canadian agency given deadline by U.S. body to clean up food safety”, Robert Fife, Globe and Mail, March 1st, 2016
Magazines and Web Resources:
Food in Canada
Food Safety Magazine
GFSR (Global Food Safety Resource) – www.globalfoodsafetyresource.com
GreenField Specialty Alcohols Inc.
Our Host provided an excellent overview and plant tour for everyone. GreenField Specialty Alcohols is Canada’s largest industrial ethanol producer. Grinding corn into ethanol 24/7, on a daily basis they produce over 200 million Litres of ethanol, 1.5 million MT of Dried Distillers Grains, and 3000 MT of Corn Oil per year.
Established in 1997 on 35 acres of land on the outskirts of Chatham, they utilize over 19 million bushels of corn per year. They have 73 employees and to date have had 1 Million Safe Work Hours – an extremely notable achievement! The Team at GreenField is highly skilled and the team very motivated and engaged. The company is interested in helping their people grow and work with employees on self-awareness, self-reflection, and continuous improvement opportunities.
The company has implemented 6-S (the sixth “S” being Safety) and has a very strong CI program in place.
As a producer of Industrial Alcohol, they are also extremely dependent on power and to ensure ongoing supply have installed a second Cogen unit which allows them to operate independent of the grid. Excess CO2 from their production is piped to a Greenhouse across the road and a project is now underway to also supply the greenhouse with waste heat year round.
To learn more about this very unique and interesting company - GreenField Specialty Alcohols - please visit their website at: www.gfsa.com.
With all things Food Safety now shared, we then opened the door of conversation to other topics of interest – and Members and Guests sought advice and peer experiences on the following subjects:
• Pre-Op Sanitation – validation and verification – challenges relating to swabs and inconsistencies
• CFIA Regulations and Inspections
• Training and grading of crops
• SQF Level 1 to growers – good agricultural processes must be followed
• Dealing with rejected loads (overseas vessels)
• Market Pricing
• On Farm Food Safety
• Links between Food Safety – Food Quality – Food Waste
Bren de Leeuw, Director - EMC Food, Beverage, Bio & Ag Program Canada
Excellence In Manufacturing Consortium - bdeleeuw .org - 519-372-6009
EMC receives funding under Growing Forward 2, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative. However, the comments or opinions expressed on this blog are solely those of their respective contributors and do not necessarily represent the views of the Government of Canada or the Province of Ontario.