A food safety and traceability journey is – and should be without a doubt - an endless pursuit of continuous improvement! It’s a means to keep employees, businesses, customers and suppliers all safe through proactive actions, good communication, documentation and ample training.
The Team at Sleeman Breweries has enthusiastically embraced the opportunity to build a robust food safety and traceability system as part of their continuous improvement activities. Inviting manufacturing peers to the table, allowed them to share the steps that they currently have in place and to seek input from others on a similar journey.
There are many reasons for companies to adopt food safety and traceability initiatives: from compliance to regulations, certification adherence, customer and supplier demands, continuous improvement endeavours, protection of product, risk mitigation and brand security to name a few.
We talked about a number of things including various requirements for BRC/SQF/ISO and so forth and the importance of finding a fit for your organizational needs. Moreso, it is imperative to have commitment from Senior Management to help ensure success and foster a mindset of collaboration and support.
Building awareness of the importance of food safety and traceability requirements is one of the first steps and can be accomplished in a variety of ways. Sleeman’s, and Guest Processors, are making use of various communication tools such as:
* Training sessions
* “Sleeman” television with interchanging food safety slids
* Food Safety 101 chats
* Tool box talks
* Yearly GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice) refreshers
* Initial training at hiring and again at three months on SOP’s (Standard Operating Procedures)
* Designation of a Food Safety Manager who walks the floor and completes GMP checklists
There was a good deal of discussion with respect to the importance and absolute necessity of developing a Food Safety Plan no matter how rudimentary especially in light of recalls, allergens, etc. etc. A company really needs to know and understand the source of materials up and down the value chain. Once you receive a product at your door and have signed off on it, it’s automatically a part of your supply chain and if your supplier does not have a food safety plan, than you have to be prepared to audit them accordingly – one cannot assume anything. An interesting example was shared regarding a “salad” and that once you broke apart all of the ingredients in this particular mix, it could be traced back to 14 different countries!
When it comes to HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Plan) – every Food Safety program must include the “H” (Hazards) – that is the core of every program. We also discussed the critical control points and GMP.
Sleeman’s is in the midst of getting their documents currently auditable and this is one of the areas in which many have found to be most challenging. In their effort to provide clarity, they developed a chart to help ensure everyone understood the documentation structure and to demonstrate where procedures are required. This chart outlines Senior Management Commitment, their Food Safety Plan (HACCP), and their Food Safety Quality Management System. It is not unlike developing a communication plan of sorts.
The next opportunity to enhance a program is measuring how the plan is going to work. The company has to put effective measuring tools in place that test the standards set. For example, thinking about customer complaints – how many complaints would a company receive in a given month before an investigation occurs? That is a number and process that needs to be determined. There are other areas as well to consider such as: sanitation, risk assessments, food safety, quality and so forth – anything that would have an effect on food safety is subject to audit.
Our Host had some interesting points that they were seeking input and guidance from our participants on – which proved equally interesting from a discussion standpoint for those in attendance as well!
* Staffing opportunities:
Apprenticeships - FPHRC (Food Processing HR Council) - www.fphrc.com;
CRIFPT (Craig Richardson Institute of Food Processing Technology)
* Ongoing learning:
Specific training - NSF-GFTC (Guelph Food Technology Centre) – www.gftc.com
Webinars – FSI (Food Seminars International) - www.foodseminarsinternational.com
Peer networking (EMC) – www.emccanada.org
Sectors (Strategy Institute Food Safety Summit and Food Regulatory and Quality Assurance
* Information – CFIA (Canadian Food Inspection Agency) – have a building materials and chemical
* Balancing Risk Assessment – training
* Conducting mock recalls - want to set up for success and make sure that documentation is the best
it can be
* Documentation – do what you say and say what you do
* Engagement – important to get everyone on board
* Change management training – learning to enhance dialogue and ask questions
Everyone agreed that when you are on a journey of this nature it is very important to be consistent and keep going!
Information shared during this event included:
“Traceability Today”, Ron Wasik, Food In Canada, 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
Magazines and Web Resources:
Food in Canada
Food Safety Magazine
GFSR (Global Food Safety Resource) – www.globalfoodsafetyresource.com
We finished our visit with a plant tour that paid particular attention to food safety elements and then we reconvened as a group to review our perceptions. The participants really enjoyed the opportunity to view the facility and particularly liked the communication boards and 5-S initiatives in place. It was also mentioned how important it is to be a “partner” with suppliers.
Great session – awesome discussion – wonderful participants! Thank you so much to Sleeman Breweries for such a warm welcome, for sharing their journey to date, and to those who took part in this peer networking event!
All the best as always!
Bren de Leeuw, Director - EMC Food, Beverage, Bio & Ag Program Canada
Excellence In Manufacturing Consortium - firstname.lastname@example.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.