One of the few things we can be certain of in our world is uncertainty. Philosophers have been preoccupied by this phenomenon for centuries and the seemingly relentless drive of nature to introduce change and variation into even the most stable of systems. This is not necessarily a bad thing. Many believe that uncertainty or variation is the key driver behind all developments and improvements in nature. Whether this is true or not, one thing we know for sure is that variation in a manufacturing process if not controlled will lead to product failures, waste and overall poor quality. In food manufacturing it can also lead to food safety issues. The eminent statistician, W. Edwards Deming, dedicated much of his career to studying the nature of variation in production processes and came to many conclusions including “If you can’t describe what you are doing as a process, you don’t know what you’re doing”. This tells us a lot about the nature of food safety management. HACCP is the tool we use to describe ‘what we are doing’. Once we know this we can then get on with the business of monitoring and checking.
Describing and Monitoring are two sides of the same coin. One without the other is meaningless. As Deming states, once we can describe what we are doing we can then measure and monitor our performance. The data from monitoring can be fed back into our understanding to improve it and our feedback loop is complete.
So it is with enormous delight that we announce the launch of our new Monitoring Center. This new center is the product of 12 months of user feedback and the collective experience and expertise of the Safefood 360 team. The advent of this module now provides our users with almost unlimited flexibility when it comes to developing local and site specific monitoring programs. The Monitoring Centre contains two new modules:
The monitoring modules is designed to allow food companies set up, plan, record and monitor their specific CCP’s, operational PRP’s, processing parameters and product testing. In fact it is flexible enough to cope with almost any specific monitoring program no matter how simple or complex it may be.
The receiving module is designed specifically for the set up and recording of incoming inspection and release of ingredients and materials. Incoming or receiving programs can be designed for simple or multiple deliveries and for bespoke inspection for individual suppliers.
The addition of this new center completes the food safety management loop. What exactly do we get with the new Monitoring Centre? Well we get the facility to:
- Set-up programs and enter records for virtually any CCP, check or testing program.
- Set up programs and enter records for your incoming and receiving inspections.
- Set specific alerts and actions to be taken by operators when warning or out of specification limits are exceeded.
- Verification of monitoring results by a competent supervisor/manager
- Create deviation workflows and records when limits are exceeded.
This represents a very powerful tool for a food company concerned with meeting the requirements of the major global food standards and legislation. More importantly it is accessible without the need for engaging expensive enterprise software vendors, system analysts and consultants.
In the last decade we have seen the emergence of what we now accept to be the standard food safety management system. It comprise three core elements or pillars namely HACCP, Pre-requisite Programs (PRP’s) and Management Systems. HACCP deals with the identification and assessment of food safety hazards; PRP’s cover the fundamentals of safe and hygienic food production; and Management System deal with the high level management processes required for producing safe and legal products. Together they provide an effective tool for the management of food safety in the context of a food plant.
The significant effort that goes into developing these three mandatory elements must however find expression in some form of practical application. This is where monitoring programs come into the food safety equation. Whether we are talking about HACCP, PRP’s or management processes we must ultimately develop a practical method of monitoring the relevant processes, events, inputs and outputs that inform us if we are either in control or more importantly out of control. In many ways we can say that Monitoring is the fourth and most fundamental element of our food safety framework.
As Deming understood, variation is not something to be feared. Once we understand it we can then monitor it and control it. Our new Monitoring module is the tool you require to achieve this. We are certain that you will enjoy using it and we look forward to your feedback as we continue to develop the center to include Batch Control, SPC reporting, Lot Code reporting, Certificate of Analysis generation and many other future features.