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There is a growing public concern about the quality of food and food products, being produced by companies and available for sale in the shelves of millions of shops around the world today. As a result of this, there is the increasing need for the adoption by companies, of procedures that identify hazards and minimize risk to health for consumers of their products, by implementing measures that ensure food safety and product consistence. Furthermore it is also as important for companies and organizations to adopt and implement quality management systems which according to CERCO (2000) can as well confer many advantages on companies implementing them, some of these advantages include: improved customer satisfaction, improved quality of products and services, workers' satisfaction, more commitment to the organization, better management, a more profitable organization, improve relations with suppliers, and an improved corporate image.
A Quality management system is vital in terms of ensuring that organizations comply with practice requirements of risk management, corporate governance and corporate social responsibility principles, concepts and processes (Bamber, 2005). According to Potoki et al (2007) a Quality Management System can be seen as a complex system consisting of all the parts and components of an organization dealing with the quality of processes and products. A QMS can be defined as the managing structure, responsibilities, procedures, processes, and management resources to implement the principles and action lines needed to achieve the quality objectives of an organization (Howard, 1999). Management responsibility and commitment is important for a successful Quality Management System (Gunningham and Johnstone). A Quality management system provides an organization with the required capacity to foresee and address quality issues before it results to major incident that would affect organizations in any way.
With regards to the food industry, the hazard that food will be contaminated at any point from the farm to the shelf exists, since contamination can take place at any point along the supply chain. Being able to track the quality and safety of these food products at every stage by an organization can be either a plus to a company or a catastrophe. To be able to do this, organizations need to design systems that places adequate controls on products, hence the need for a quality management system. Within the food chain, a single product, (i.e. beef) may travel through various processes like production, growing, manufacturing, packaging, transport, storage and retail, but Duval (2009) is positive that having a quality management system gives organizations the ability to track and guarantee the quality and safety of their product, no matter how long the supply chain is.
The implementation of quality management systems of various kinds has become a universal necessity in the food industry, (Stephanie et al, 2007). Indeed, the adoption of food quality and safety management systems by organizations is no longer a matter of choice, but a legal requirement in most countries around the world. The International Standard Organization has developed standards like the ISO 9001 and the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) approach to food risk management and control. These focus on specific food chains and to a large extent, processes organization, process control and process improvement so as to guarantee product quality, World food program (2009). Today's quality management systems in the food industry incorporates some key elements which enables organizations to be able to guarantee food safety, some of these elements includes:
The first element in food quality management system requires organizations to properly document their food safety management system, this document according to Omachonu and Ross (2004) should identify the processes needed for the food safety management system, determine the sequence and interaction of these processes, determine criteria and methods required to ensure the effective operation and control of these processes, ensure the availability of information necessary to support the operation and monitoring of these processes as well as measure, monitor and analyze these processes to achieve desired results and continuous improvement. This synchronizes the organizations production strategy and quality irrespective of production location.
Food Safety Policy
A food quality management system required that supplier have a clear, concise and documented food safety policy statement of commitment and vision by the organization that creates a framework for accountability and responsibility. This reassures both the authorities and consumers of company products safety and quality.
Food Safety Manual
The food quality management system also places a demand on the supplier to have a Food Safety Manual or documented system, having a scope appropriate to the range of business activity to be covered, including documented procedures or specific reference to them and describing the interaction of the related processes. This makes processes to be tailored towards specific products of industries as the procedure for the manufacture of beef may not be the same as that for cake production.
This element of a food quality management system mandates suppliers to establish a clear organizational structure, which unambiguously defines and documents job functions, responsibilities and reporting relationships of at least those staff, whose activities affect product safety. Barnard (2012) defines organizational structure as a system of consciously coordinated activities carried out by clearly defined persons, this should be adhered to by all organizations.
The food quality management system also contains an element that requires supplier's senior management to demonstrate their commitment to the development and improvement of the food safety management system. If the top echelon of an organization have no interest in food safety management, there is little that that organization can achieve, as resources for meeting some of these requirements have to be made available by senior management.
Management Review (including HACCP Verification)
The quality management system requires that the supplier's senior management will review the verification of the food safety management system and HACCP Plan, at planned intervals, to ensure its continuing suitability, adequacy and effectiveness. The HACCP Plan shall also be reviewed in the event of any change which impacts on the safety of the product. Such a review shall evaluate the need for changes to the supplier's food safety management system, including the food safety policy and food safety objectives. This mechanism helps organizations to evaluate the appropriateness, effectiveness and efficiency of the overall food safety system design, its resourcing and its objectives in the light of the actual performance achieved. It enables future goals to be set in order to improve continually over time.
Senior management must commit to providing, in a timely manner, all the resources needed to implement and improve the processes of the food safety management system and to address customer satisfaction.
Supplier must ensure that for all items and services (including utilities, transport and maintenance) purchased/provided and having effect on product safety, documented specifications are prepared, securely stored and readily accessible when needed. The standard shall require that a specification review process is in place.
The quality management system also requires that the supplier prepare and implement detailed procedures/instructions for all processes and operations having an effect on product safety. This means that the management of an organization is mandated to implementation individual and collective action plans and processes; ranging from hazard identification and risk assessment through to audit and review.
The food quality management system also require that the supplier have an internal audit system in place in relation to all systems and procedures, which are critical to product safety.
Supplier will ensure that procedures for the determination and implementation of corrective action in the event of any significant non-conformity relating to product safety are prepared and documented and that all such documentation is securely stored and readily accessible when needed.
Control of Non-conformity
There is also the element of a food quality management system that ensures that any product, which does not conform to requirements, is clearly identified and controlled to prevent unintended use or delivery. This way product with defects are easily identified and taken out of the supply chain, and the cause of the defect quickly remedied.
The preparation and implement appropriate product release procedures by organization tends to shorten the identification process in case there are issues within the food supply chain.
The element that ensures supplier controls purchasing processes to ensure that all externally sourced items conform to requirement is a very important element for and vital to a food quality management system.
Supplier Performance Monitoring
The quality management system also should have an important element that requires supplier to operate procedures for approval and continued monitoring of its suppliers. The results of evaluations and follow-up actions must be recorded.
The element of traceability is another very vital point in a quality management system (Rudd, 2009) as it demands that the supplier develop and maintain appropriate procedures and systems to ensure Identification of any out-sourced product, ingredient or service. By this, it means that organizations can only achieve the food quality management certification if the commit to keeping a complete record of batches of in-process or final product and packaging throughout the production process and record of purchaser and delivery destination for all product supplied.
Food quality management system requires that the supplier prepare and implement an effective system for the management of complaints and complaint data to control and correct shortcomings in food safety.
Serious Incident Management
There is also the requirement for suppliers to prepare and implement an effective incident management procedure for all of its products, which is tested regularly. This should cover planning for product withdrawal and product recall.
Control of Measuring and Monitoring Devices
Supplier are further mandated to identify the measurements critical to food safety, the measuring and monitoring devices required to assure product safety and methods to assure calibration traceable to a recognized standard.
According to Beattie (2009)3, Due Diligence is a concept that a food producer, processor or food management employer has carried out every reasonable step to protect the food they work with. If food safety issues result in litigation, an organization that can prove due diligence by showing that they have taken all reasonable steps to ensure that the food they sell complies with the law or that the offense was the fault of another person or company are most likely not to be held liable. Due diligence in the food industry can be shown not only by adapting a food quality management system, but also by ensuring that constant assessment of the risks consumer throughout the supply chain is carried out, that appropriate systems are put in place for managing those risks and evidence of a continuous compliance with systems put in place.
After putting up a food quality management system in place at Markers Fresh Food Ltd, the next stage will be the implementation of this system to ensure that it is being fully implemented and is consistently being improved, to this end, it is important that the quality manager puts in place work practices, procedures which are tailored towards meeting and reacting in the quickest time and manner to quality problems relating to changing customer demands and ensure Markers profitability. The quality manager will do well to put in place also food safety procedures which ensures product improvement, as a result, the quality manager should consider a change of direction towards a system which encompasses food safety within a larger quality management framework. To ensure that this new system is being maintained and constantly improved, the manager should follow the stages below:
Supply chain management
As the quality manager of Markers, my first duty will be to put in place a food safety policy this must be made available to all staffs of the organization. This food safety policy will be printed and distributed to all staffs, the safety policy below would suffice:
Markers Food Safety Policy
Markers foods constantly monitor and ensure absolute compliance with all legal food standards. Our Food Safety and Quality Management System (QMS) rely on HACCP to identify and manage risk. We are committed to ensuring we always operate above the minimum legal standard, we are also aware of and aims to be fully compliant with:
• Food Safety Laws
• Guidelines on Due Diligence
• General Food Regulation
• Food Hygiene (England and Wales) No2 - 852/2004
By integrating food safety management as part of our business, Markers Foods is committed to the provision of safe and high quality products for all affected by the organization's activities. To achieve this, we will therefore provide:
Appropriate the necessary resources including human resources, financial resources and equipment to ensure a safe environment for production.
Appropriate instruction, information, training and supervision for all employees, contractors, labor hire employees and visitors where required, to further ensure that employees are competent to do their task
Appropriate risk management processes for all operations and activities within the organization so as to identify hazards and prevent any kind of accident of incident
Safe arrangements for the use, handling, storage and transport of materials and products.
A. PURCHASING MANAGEMENT
By responsibly ensuring that products purchased by Markers foods satisfy the Food Safety Legislation the manager actively takes control of ensuring the quality of all materials to be used by the organization. Also ensuring that individual Managers with purchasing responsibility specialize in and are responsible for all products within these departments is also a way of controlling and ensuring safe food quality management (Ashley, 2010). The quality manager must actively work closely with other department purchasing official so as to ensure that suppliers follow accepted
B. REGULAR VISTS
Regular visits by the quality manager and other professionally trained food auditors. The procedures relating to Markers product development should include specification for each product. The specifications, Quality Audit reports and performance must be used to assess all supplier due diligence procedures, technical audit and sampling programmes will be used to confirm the effectiveness of this measures. The specifications mentioned above are also used to confirm that the products conform to the relevant food safety, quality, and other regulations, i.e compositional and labeling etc. An effective customer complaints management system would be put in place and used to analyses complaint pattern and facilitate quick investigation of the relevant issues..
C. PRODUCTION MANAGEMENT
The quality manager should be focused on delivering high quality products, that is, products which meet specifications using the lowest possible resources, without necessarily reducing the value and quality of Markers products, this should be his top priority for manufacturers The process of achieving high quality is a carefully planned one, it does not just happen. Therefore, proper management of all stages of the production process must be done to achieve quality standards. As rightly pointed out by Riley (2012), quality management is concerned with controlling activities with the aim of ensuring that products and services are fit for their purpose and meets the specifications.
C. SUPPLY CHAIN MANAGEMENT
The quality manger should put in place a mechanism that allows Markers foods to be able to audit its supply route. Measurable guarantees for reliability, food safety, quality and adherence to Good Practices must be obtained from all along the supply chain. These suppliers will be required to give warranty relating to all product supplies as a condition of continued trade. No supplier will be allowed to be listed without going through the Quality Assurance assessment process
D. DISTRIBUTION MANAGEMENT
A well established operating procedure for the distribution of Markers products must be established and monitored for strict adherence. This will contain details of the relevant Food Safety, Hygiene and Quality legislation taken during the production process, while also focusing on the very important aspects of packaging design management and distribution failure reduction. Distribution process management is affected by some factors like, storage and transportation quality, the handling environment etc. So putting in place appropriate checks to ensure these are risked assessed for and contingency made for them should also be a priority for the quality manager. Improper risk assessment of the afore mentioned may lead to quality issues such as damage to moisture-proof packaging etc. The importance of quality assurance in the distribution phase is very essential and proper attention by Markers food quality manager on the following three areas will as well ensure that this does not happen:
1. Compliance with relevant hygiene/health and safety requirements and are protection against damage or contamination of foods by any kind of contaminants.
2. Clean vehicles, temperature controlled and well maintained.
3. Chillers, cold stores and vehicle refrigeration equipment are capable of maintaining product temperatures as stipulated by applicable laws and regulations.
4. Appropriately trained staff, most especially with regard to the importance of maintaining the cold storage or transport chain. Designated personnel are trained in the first principles of food hygiene to increase their awareness of the standards required at customer's premises and by enforcement officers.
5. Ensure strict adherence to hygiene control and cleaning procedures