fbpx

ISO 9001:2015 – Expert Tips for Setting Quality Objectives

Share on facebook
Share on email
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

Identifying and tracking quality objectives are a requirement of the ISO 9001:2015 Quality Management standard. In this blog, we asked Quality Management guru Tony Cunningham, MD of Wynleigh International Certification Services, to share his insights and tips for establishing measurable Quality Objectives.

HOW CAN YOU ESTABLISH MEASURABLE QUALITY OBJECTIVES?

The first step in planning your Quality Management System is to identify quality objectives that are consistent with your organisation’s Quality Policy. The SMART criteria/framework is a popular tool used for establishing quality objectives, which should be:

Specific: an objective must be clearly defined or identified so everyone is able to interpret it in the same way.

Measurable: an objective should be quantifiable and interpreted in terms of size or degree.

Attainable: an objective should be achievable.

Relevant: an objective should be relevant to the organisation’s context and align with the quality policy and customer, statutory or regulatory requirements so that it is relevant to the strategic direction of the organisation.

Time-oriented: an objective should be time-bound in order to establish that it is met.

Learn more about Risk-based Thinking in a Quality Management System. Download our FREE Guide: How to: Address Risk-based Thinking in A Quality Management System.

WHAT REQUIREMENTS ARE THERE FOR ISO 9001:2015 QUALITY OBJECTIVES?

The ISO 9001:2015 standard stipulates requirements that need to be satisfied for quality objectives. Let’s take a closer look at these:

1. Objectives must be established at relevant functions, levels and processes within the QMS. Consider these factors as you begin to formulate your objectives:

  • Legal and compliance requirements.
  • Significant aspects directly related to significant impacts.
  • Significant hazards related to risks.
  • Financial, operational, and business requirements.
  • Views of interested parties.

2. Objectives must be consistent with your quality policy, relevant to product / service conformity and the enhancement of customer satisfaction.

3. Objectives must be measurable. A measure or metric must be quantifiable to track performance. A performance indicator or key performance indicator (KPI) evaluates the success of an organisation or of a particular activity and should follow the SMART criteria/framework. The following are examples of KPIs:

  • The quantity of raw material or energy used
  • The amount of waste produced
  • The number of incidents/accidents
  • The percentage of waste recycled

Actions to address risks and opportunities

This is a new requirement that stipulates that a process be implemented to determine and evaluate applicable risks. Examples of risks that the QMS will not achieve its objectives include the failure of processes, products and services to meet their requirements, or the organisation not achieving customer satisfaction.

Examples of opportunities include the potential to identify new customers, to determine the need for new products or services or to determine the need for revising or replacing a process in order for it to become more efficient.

4. Objectives must take into account applicable requirements and comply with the ISO 9001:2015 standard requirements.

5. Objectives must be relevant to the conformity of products and services. Objectives should have an impact on products, services, and/or customers and be tied directly to products or customers’ expectations .

6. Objectives must be monitored. Periodically evaluate and review progress and results of actions taken towards the objectives. The leadership team can review results at the management review meeting or at set intervals between management reviews.

7. Objectives must be communicated. Employees need to be aware of the organisation’s goals, why they are important, what value they provide, how they are measured and how they impact progress towards the goals.

8. Objectives must be updated as appropriate. Objectives must be periodically reviewed and updated. The management review meetings is probably the best forum for this. Leadership should consider the goal of each objective and current results towards those goals. Options might be to eliminate the objective, replace it with a new objective, modify the associated metric or target goal, or change the timeline to achieve it.

9. Objectives must be documented. You must maintain documented information defining your business objectives and update them periodically. Auditors will expect to review a set of objectives to ensure that they are consistent and aligned with the strategic direction of your organisation.

10. Objectives must be planned. Planning must define the work or tasks to be done, the required resources, who has overall responsibility for the project, dates for completion, and how the results will be reviewed and evaluated.

TAKEAWAYS

  • Use the SMART Framework when establishing your quality objectives.
  • Include team members in the establishment of quality objectives.
  • If you are struggling to come up with ideas then look at non-conformances and customer complaints.
  • Communication is KEY! Ensure all team members are aware of the objectives and the steps to meet them.
  • Monitor the process.
  • Evaluate the results!

Are you having a difficult time identifying quality objectives for your organisation? You’re not alone!

Risk ZA can help you to become an expert in the ISO 9001:2015 Quality Management standard! We offer Training, Online Learning and Consulting – whereby we are able to assist you right from the basic, through to becoming a full-fledged pro when it comes to Quality.

Learn more about Risk-based Thinking in a Quality Management System. Download our FREE Guide: How to: Address Risk-based Thinking in A Quality Management System.

Join us for upcoming ISO 9001:2015 Public Training events:

Visit our Training Date schedule to find upcoming dates: Training Date Schedule

Pressed for time or working in a remote location?  Our online learning courses are the perfect solution for you! Sign Up for the ISO 9001:2015 Quality Management online learning course here.

Risk ZA provides and wide range of training, consulting and software services for ISO Management Systems. To enquire further, contact our expert team on +27 (0) 31 569 5900, email info@riskza.com  or view our Training Schedule here.

You can share this blog post on your preferred social media platform:

Share on facebook
Share on email
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

Do Revised ISO Standards Mean NEW Documents & Control Procedures?

Share on facebook
Share on email
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

Both large and small organisations have gained from using Management Systems standards to improve their quality and compliance and achieve efficient reliable processes – amongst multiple other improvement factors.

Documentation and Document Control supports all ISO Management Systems. For instance: in a Quality Management System, adequate documentation and document control ensures that documented processes and related controls are consistently implemented across an organisation and helps to identify and deal with non-compliance issues quickly and effectively.

Changes to the requirements for documentation have attracted a lot of attention in the latest versions of the ISO Management Systems standards. People are asking: “Can I get rid of documented procedures?” and “Are there no longer requirements for documents and records?”

Before going into Document Control here’s a brief look at the new ISO Management Systems standards’ requirements for Documented Information.

ISO MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS REQUIREMENTS FOR DOCUMENTED INFORMATION ISO

Documents that are directive in nature, such as policies, procedures, instructions, templates and documents that contain historical information, previously termed records, are now collectively called Documented Information, but what is the difference?

The latest ISO standards have replaced the terms documented “procedures” and “records” with “Documented Information”. According to ISO, Documented Information is:

“meaningful data that is required to be controlled and maintained by the organisation and the medium on which it is contained.”

The difference between a record and a document is that records are Documented Information that are “retained” and documents are Documented Information that are “maintained”. A form is a document; when the form is filled out it becomes a record, which you will “retain” to provide ease of retrieval.

THE OLD VS THE NEW DOCUMENT REQUIREMENTS

While the ISO 9001:2008 version was explicit about documentation, ISO 9001:2015 allows more freedom in how, what, and when to document a Quality Management process (such as specific procedures). This allows an organisation the flexibility to use appropriate information, maintain current versions easier, provide broader access/distribution and reduce costs associated with documentation, as long as it conforms to the requirements pertaining to their Management System.

So, adequate documentation, maintenance and control of documents remain very important in the latest versions of the ISO Management Systems standards because Documented Information:

  • Provides evidence of conformance to the ISO Management Systems standard
  • Is an important consideration for auditing purposes
  • Provides a ‘single point of truth’ in how a process is carried out
  • Assists with staff training
    Prevents the loss of institutional knowledge

But what is Document Control according to ISO and how do you control documented information?

THE ISO DOCUMENT CONTROL ARRANGEMENTS

When dealing with ‘Maintaining Documented Information’, previously referred to as document control. The intent of the revised ISO standards is that once you decide on the need for a document — the means to convey critical information or a template to collect data, for example — then you will want to make it available to the staff who need it. You will also want to make sure that the information is always up-to-date and correct.

In short, Maintaining Documented Information, or Document Control, entails setting up arrangements to ensure that Documented Information of the ISO Management System remains relevant, up-to-date, accessible and aligned to the organisation’s strategy.  

Unfortunately, what goes into setting up, executing and managing the Document Control process often leaves people confused.  

Document Control Software, for example, can potentially provide you with a simple way of controlling important documentation. But, first, you need to ask yourself: What type of Document Control Software do I need, and will it provide me with a secure, cost-effective solution to managing my Document Control process?

Want to find out more? Click here to Download our FREE Guide — Automated Document Control: A Key Component of ISO Management Systems.​

WORKING WITH RISK ZA

We have many years of experience with various Document Control Software Solutions, which means we are able to give you good, solid advice on which route is best for you and your organisation. Give us a call to chat about how these Document Control Software options can streamline the way that you:

  • Maintain important documentation
  • Review, Approve, Share and Control Change of documents
  • Archive and retrieve information

Call us on +27 31 569 5900 or email info@riskza.com.

You can share this blog on your preferred social media platform:

Share on facebook
Share on email
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

How Do I Provide A 5-Star Customer Experience?

Share on facebook
Share on email
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

You’ve managed to attract a customer to buy your product instead of your competitor’s. Well done! You’ve achieved the first step in the customer experience journey! In store, Susan, as we’ll call her, was assisted by friendly, helpful sales staff who patiently answered her questions, and she left the store feeling happy and satisfied. She even told her friends about her great experience.

Months later, Susan’s baby slid out the side of the walking ring. Angry and upset, she reported the incident to the store manager who showed no interest or compassion. Susan posted her complaint to Hello Peter, which reads:

Unsafe baby equipment risked my baby’s life!
“I bought a walking ring and my baby slid through the side and bumped her head! When I explained this to the manager she simply said: “would you like another one”! She showed no compassion. Not only do they sell equipment that has not passed safety checks but they also refuse to give you your money back. I’m devastated as my child’s life was put at risk.”

This is a sad story…not only because Susan’s baby was hurt.

It’s regrettable because the owner set out years ago to grow a small family business into a national company by offering customers exceptional service and clearly not all staff are living this vision. 

For years, businesses weren’t built to change. They established a ‘success formula’, and tweaked the business model here and there to reflect new trends.

Now, analysts like Deon Chang say what customers want is the biggest trend for the 21st century and beyond. It’s no longer about how you want to sell but how your customers want to buy. This means getting back to basics and getting to the root of any problem for a healthier business.

We need to be obsessed with our customers and solve the problems that keep them up at night!

“Customers are the beating heart of our businesses and employees are the blood that flows through the veins. We should harness our human capital” – Carmen Murray, Owner, Boo-Yah! 

CUSTOMER OBSESSION IS ABOUT CULTURE

Why has customer experience become such a hot topic? It’s because consumer expectations are higher, and word of mouth travels faster than ever before. People’s awareness about quality and broader social issues has also influenced organisations around the world.

Great customer experiences drives loyalty and revenue, and improving the customer experience is now a strategic imperative for almost all organisations. Downplaying its importance is no longer an option as the voice of customers get louder and louder.

Customer experience is how customers perceive their interactions with your organisation. So how can you improve the way customers interact with your business at every touchpoint?

The ultimate aim of the ISO 9001:2015 Quality Management System is to give organisations the “tools” to satisfy their customers effectively. ISO 9001:2015 deals with customer satisfaction directly when it states that the: “organisation shall monitor customers’ perceptions of the degree to which their needs and expectations have been fulfilled.”

ISO 9001:2015 lists examples of how this information can be obtained by for example eliciting customer feedback and providing warranties. These can be effective ways of establishing whether your customer is satisfied.

But there’s much more to customer satisfaction than sending out a survey and asking for feedback. If you aspire to be truly great and a market leader, you need systems to improve efficiency in every area of operation.

So, what within ISO 9001:2015 can we use to help us build closer relationships with our customers?

Download our FREE Guide Implementing ISO 9001:2015 In A Small Business: Welcome To The Big League! to find out the answers to these important questions…and more!

WHAT OUR CLIENTS HAVE TO SAY ABOUT US

Tony Cunningham and Risk ZA facilitators are accomplished, and highly effective in assisting us with educating and upskilling our executive, and SHEQ personnel in understanding and implementing the requirements of the ISO 9001 Quality Management Systems, ISO 14001 Environmental Management Systems and the OHSAS 18001 Standard.” – WSSA

WSSA manages water treatment systems and provides bulk water solutions to municipal customers. The organisation opted for the internationally recognised ISO Management Systems standards to manage compliance obligations and customers’ expectations. WSSA is a triple ISO certified organisation, and Risk ZA has provided training and consulting services to WSSA for a number of years.

WORK WITH RISK ZA

Risk ZA has collective experience of over 30 years in training, consulting and implementing ISO related solutions for organisations of all types and sizes in the Southern African region. We are leading experts in the field of ISO 9001:2015 Quality Management Systems, and well-positioned to assist your organisation build a solid foundation for growth. Don’t hesitate to give the team a call on +27 (0) 31 569 5900, email info@riskza.com or use our contact form.

You can share this blog on your preferred social media platform:

Share on facebook
Share on email
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

SA’s FOOD SAFETY SYSTEM NEEDS URGENT ATTENTION

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on email

Can consumers ever be sure that the food they eat is 100% safe? In short, the answer is, no. We live in an environment where we are constantly exposed to bacteria. However, the recent deadly listeria outbreak, which killed over 200 people in South Africa, has been a major eye opener. Consumers are not only questioning food safety standards, but rightly insisting on a tougher approach to food safety.

Our FREE downloadable guide ISO 22000:2018 Food Safety Management Systems Implementation explores the steps necessary for a successful compliance.

After months of testing and cleaning at its Polokwane facility, Tiger Brands CEO Lawrence MacDougall has said that they will probably never know how the deadly ST6 listeria strain entered the facility. He has confirmed, however, that the factory followed all existing protocols and requirements in SA. Since the outbreak Tiger Brands has worked with international and local experts to further improve safety and prevent another outbreak, including changing the way its factories are arranged, and adopting technologies to reduce bacteria loads. Fallout from the listeria crisis has caused immeasurable harm to the brand, and this is the type of storm that only a giant like Tiger Brands can weather. For smaller food producers and suppliers in the value chain, the impact has been huge.

While the root causes of the listeria outbreak continue to puzzle scientists and industry experts, the frequency of these tragic food poisoning incidents, and loss of life, points to serious problems in the food supply chain. Head of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Food Safety and Zoonoses department, Dr. Kazuaki Miyagishima, reduces food contamination in Africa down to:

  • Poor food preparation;
  • Poor hygiene;
  • Inadequate conditions in food production and storage;
  • Lower levels of literacy, education and training; and  
  • Insufficient food safety legislation or implementation of legislation.

If consumers want safer food – and they do – where do we begin to find answers to solve these problems?

Improving Food Safety and Quality in South Africa

Food regulatory systems are the cornerstone of public health the world over, and South Africa is no exception. Numerous food-related regulations, grouped under the National Foodstuffs, Cosmetics and Disinfectants Act, are in place to protect consumer health. Government has also tightened industry regulations following the listeria outbreak, and processors of ready-to-eat meat products are now required to implement a hazard-analysis and critical control point system, by March 2019. While not all of these food safety regulations and systems apply to all sectors in the food industry, the following levels of protection should be in place where applicable.

A valid certificate of acceptability

A valid certificate of acceptability is issued by the local municipality in terms of Regulation 962 of the Foodstuffs, Cosmetics & Disinfectants Act. Its general hygiene requirements are basic, and it should ensure a facility is adequately designed and constructed to handle food. The regulation emphasises the importance of training food handlers, which is often a weakness in food safety systems. It also places the full legal liability for food safety on the person in charge. New requirements of the draft regulation known as R364, are far more stringent, and bring South Africa in line with the US and Europe.

Prerequisite Programmes

The majority of food hazards can be controlled by PRPs, which are the foundation for the HACCP system. Once the PRPs are in place, HACCP based procedures focus on controlling the steps in the production process which are critical to ensuring the preparation of safe food.

Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point System (HACCP)

Any company involved in the manufacturing, processing or handling of food products should use HACCP to minimise or eliminate food safety hazards in their product. The HACCP system reduces the risk of safety hazards, and requires that potential hazards are identified and controlled at specific points in the process. As mentioned earlier, the HACCP regulations have been amended to include ready-to-eat meat and poultry processors, which have until 14 March, 2019 to comply.

FSSC 22000 Food Safety System Certification

The FSSC 22000 Food Safety Management System Certification Scheme uses the ISO 22000:2018 Food Safety Management Systems requirements for food safety, and the ISO Technical Standards for PRPs. Certification is recognised by the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI), and it affords food producers and food packaging manufacturers worldwide recognition for their food safety systems.

British Retail Consortium Food Safety Standard

The BRC Food Safety Standard provides prescriptive guidelines as to how food safety should be addressed. ISO FSSC 22000:2018 offers a good framework against which an organisation can develop its own food safety management system, and allows the organisation to choose the best way to control its own system.The BRC has a simple certification process, and only requires an onsite audit, whereas the FSSC 22000 certification standard requires a stage 1 and 2 audit, both to be done on site, plus periodic surveillance and unannounced audits. The role of certification bodies in supporting the food safety system has been identified as an area for improvement in the lessons learned from the listeria crisis.

Food Growers and GlobalG.A.P

GLOBALG.A.P. (Good Agricultural Practices) is a farm assurance programme, and a partnership between agricultural producers and retailers that endeavours to establish accepted standards and procedures in the agricultural sector. It is widely-used, and many customers for agricultural products require evidence of GlobalG.A.P certification as a prerequisite for doing business. The standard was developed using the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) guidelines, and is governed according to ISO/IEC 17021-1:2015 for certifications schemes.

ISO 22000:2018 Food Safety Management System

As we have discussed, food safety is all about preventing, eliminating, or controlling foodborne hazards so that food is safe to eat. There are many guidelines to follow and legal requirements in place. However, there has not been a single, internationally recognised food safety systems standard that applies to every link in the supply chain, and that worked regardless of local laws and customs. That is, not until June 2018, when the ISO 22000:2018 Food Safety Management Systems Standard was released.

In the short time since its release, ISO 22000:2018 has become synonymous with food safety worldwide. The ISO standard renders food safety management into a process of continuous improvement, which aims to prevent or eliminate food safety hazards or, if they can’t be completely eliminated, bring them within acceptable limits. It integrates the principles of the HACCP system, and incorporates steps developed by the Codex Alimentarius Commission, a subgroup of the WHO. Furthermore, ISO 22000:2018 combines the HACCP plan with prerequisite programmes. To have a complete quality management system in a food organisation, ISO 9000:2015 and ISO 22000:2018 can be integrated.

Food safety is not guaranteed by virtue of a standard. However, with compliance to ISO 22000:2018 throughout the food supply chain, consumers can have greater confidence in the safety and integrity of the food supply system, and can be reasonably assured that the food they purchase is safe for them and their families to eat.

Our FREE downloadable guide ISO 22000:2018 Food Safety Management Systems Implementation explores the steps necessary for a successful compliance.

For more information or guidance on which ISO standard(s) and services would best suit the needs of your organisation, please email Risk ZA at info@riskza.com or contact us on 0861 Risk ZA / +27 (0) 31 569 5900.

You can share this blog on your preferred social media platform:

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on email

ISO 9001:2015 – The Global Gold Standard for Quality Management Systems

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on email

ISO 9001 is the globally accepted quality management framework with which high-performing organisations in all sectors and of all sizes choose to build their quality management systems and attain excellence. Operational excellence leads to better performance, more efficient use of resources and continuous improvement. ISO 9001:2015 has a positive impact on quality, innovation and overall performance by providing organisations with the discipline to consistently surpass industry standards for quality.

ISO 9001 was first published in 1987 by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), and the latest update to the standard was released in September 2015 to meet business needs of today. Used by millions of organisations worldwide, ISO 9001 is the only standard in the ISO 9000 series to which organisations can certify, although certification is not a requirement. ISO 9001:2015 lays out the criteria organisations must meet to ensure their offerings consistently satisfy customer and regulatory needs.

To learn how to manage your business more effectively and improve performance on an ongoing basis, through ISO 9001:2015, download our FREE Downloadable Guide: THE 3 KEY STEPS TO SUCCESSFULLY IMPLEMENTING THE ISO 9001:2015 QUALITY MANAGEMENT SYSTEM & REAPING THE REWARDS

What is a Quality Management System?

A QMS is a collection of management arrangements to control business processes, part of which may include procedures, and responsibilities for achieving quality policies and objectives. It helps organisations to coordinate and direct activities to meet customer satisfaction and regulatory requirements and to improve their effectiveness and efficiency on a continual basis.

What benefits will ISO 9001:2015 bring to my organisation?

An article in the international magazine manufacturingnews.com shows that 85% of ISO 9001 certified firms report external benefits, such as higher perceived quality, greater customer demand, better market differentiation, greater employee awareness of quality issues, and increased operational efficiency. Results like a reduction in customer claims, improvements in delivery time, fewer defects, improvements in product cycle time, and on-time delivery are achievable after correct implementation of an ISO 9001:2015 based quality management system.

Implementing ISO 9001:2015 will help your organisation to:

  • Assess the organisation’s context to define who is affected by your work and what they expect from you. This will help to clearly state your objectives and identify new business opportunities.
  • Identify and address risks associated with your organisation.
  • Put customers first and ensure your organisation consistently meets customer needs and expectations, which can lead to repeat business, new clients and increased sales volume.
  • Work more efficiently as processes will be aligned and understood by everyone, which will improve productivity and efficiency and bring down costs.
  • Meet the necessary statutory and regulatory requirements.

Additional benefits of ISO 9001:2015:

  • Provides senior management with an efficient management process.
  • Sets out areas of responsibility across the organisation.
  • Identifies and encourages more efficient and time-saving processes.
  • Promotes evidence-based decision-making, which improves efficiencies and cost savings.
  • Creates a culture of continual improvement. ISO experts agree that the most important aspect to ISO improvements are attitudes within the organisation.

Benefits to customers:

  • Improved quality and service.
  • Delivery on time.
  • Fewer returned products and complaints.
  • Cost reductions.

Should my organisation certify?

ISO certification requires hands-on senior management involvement and resources, which may include the use of consultants. Third-party certification signals that an organisation has implemented the standard correctly, and for some organisations certification is necessary as certain government or public entities only contract suppliers that have been certified.

DOWNLOAD OUR FREE GUIDE

Learn more about ISO 9001:2015 and what it takes to successfully implement a Quality Management System by downloading this FREE guide: THE 3 KEY STEPS TO SUCCESSFULLY IMPLEMENTING THE ISO 9001:2015 QUALITY MANAGEMENT SYSTEM & REAPING THE REWARDS

ISO 9001:2015: A SUCCESS STORY

Success with the ISO 9001:2015 QMS can take many forms: for some organisations, it is all about attracting new clients, while others see it as the blueprint for internal efficiency. The Volkswagen Group South Africa (VWSA) was awarded ISO 9001:2015 certification in 2017. The company responsible for the Quality Audit, noted that VWSA has a functioning and effective management system, adhered to by employees.

Chairman and MD, Thomas Schaefer said: “VWSA’s QMS is based on ISO 9001 and automotive specific requirements. Top management supports development of the management system, and certification means that VWSA can live up to the high levels required to provide our customers with quality products.” 

Certification guarantees that VWSA has the management systems in place as a prerequisite for export to international customers; it also ensures continuation of their export programme and provides assurance to customers, suppliers and employees that they are compliant with international standards. 

For more information or guidance on which ISO standard(s) and services would best suit the needs of your organisation, please email Risk ZA at info@riskza.com or contact us on 0861 Risk ZA / +27 (0) 31 569 5900.

You can share this blog on your preferred social media platform:

Share on facebook
Share on google
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

Deadly Listeria outbreak: Can ISO 22000 and preventative controls improve food safety?

Deadly Listeria outbreak: Can ISO 22000 and preventative controls improve food safety?

Calls for tougher food industry standards after deadly listeria outbreak - can ISO standards and preventative controls improve food safety?

Tiger Brands’ CEO Lawrence MacDougall announced in a press statement shortly after  Enterprise Polony was withdrawn from supermarket shelves, that tougher food safety standards are needed not only in South Africa but worldwide.

Food product recalls are at an all time high, which may or may not be good news.

Improvements in pathogen and risk detection technology and better regulatory oversight go some way to explaining the increase in recalls. But in the United States, undeclared allergens in foods topped the list as the major reason for food recalls.

Bacterial contamination – Salmonella and Listeria Monocytogenes – as well as undeclared substances and extraneous material found in foods also featured high in the April food recall report released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service (ERS).

Fresh produce, meat, seafood and poultry pose the greatest health risks.

The U.S. Agriculture Department has placed fresh produce, meat, poultry, and seafood on its ‘watch list’, as these foods pose the greatest potential health risk and are the cause of most foodborne illnesses, hospitalisations, and deaths.

Six people in Europe died in March from eating frozen corn contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes, and consumers were warned to avoid eating romaine lettuce after an E.coli outbreak in 13 U.S.states and Canada was traced to Canadian grown lettuce.

Listeria outbreak in South Africa

The World Health Organisation (WHO) announced in April 2018 that the world’s worst Listeria outbreak was showing a downward trend in South Africa but it expected more cases.

Laboratory results revealed that in most cases people had become ill after eating polony containing strains of Listeria belonging to L. monocytogenes Sequence Type 6 (ST6).

Tiger Brands’ own laboratory tests confirmed this finding.

A total of 1,024 cases and 200 deaths from all provinces across the country were reported by the National Department of Communicable Diseases in May 2018.

But the death toll could be much higher as importers of Enterprise and RCL Foods products in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region‚ do not have the testing and monitoring facilities to detect listeriosis cases.

Listeria was also found at RCL Foods’ (Rainbow Chickens) Wolwehoek factory in Sasolberg.

The WHO believes that the number of people infected could indicate more than one source of the outbreak.

Listeria outbreak is a disaster for the entire ready-to-eat meat industry.

At the peak of the Listeriosis outbreak 80 tons of recalled polony were being destroyed daily.

Enterprise shut down its Polokwane and Germiston facilities ceasing supply to trade while it explored the source of the outbreak and did a deep cleaning process.

Tiger Brands and RCL Foods share prices tumbled on the JSE, and Alec Abraham, a senior equity analyst at Johannesburg-based Sasfin, said that the weakening of the share prices  would likely be sustained.

More than six countries imposed trade bans on products from South Africa, resulting in losses of over R100m in sausage exports alone.  

The outbreak has caused around R1 billion in losses to the pork value chain so far due to the changes in consumer perceptions of pork. Half of the pork industries meat is used in processed products, according to the South African Pork Producers’ Organisation.

“The pork industry suffered a severe blow following the recent outbreak of listeriosis,” said Paul Makube, senior agricultural economist at FNB Agri-Business.

Tiger Brands’ CEO Lawrence MacDougall said, “We are making every effort to ascertain how ST6 arrived in our production facility in Polokwane, despite us adhering to all the prevailing industry standards.The Listeriosis outbreak has been a terrible blight on the entire ready-to-eat meat industry. It is imperative for the entire industry to come together to agree on an appropriate standard with government. It is not a problem which is unique to South Africa or for that matter Enterprise Foods.”

The Democratic Alliance (DA) blamed Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi for a ‘lack of political will and clarity’ for not getting to the bottom of the Listeriosis outbreak sooner, and that the outbreak pointed to, ‘a broader neglect of proper food safety mechanisms on the part of government.’

DA member of parliament Evelyn Wilson said the record of the world’s largest listeriosis outbreak was ‘not one to be proud of’ and blamed it on a shortage of environmental health inspectors, saying the outbreak could have been avoided if factories were inspected every three months.

In the midst of the crisis and finger-pointing, the Department of Health announced that it would help victims of the Listeria outbreak seek legal restitution, and a class action has been filed by human rights attorney Richard Spoor and Bill Marler of U.S. food safety law firm Marler Clark.

Marler has represented thousands of people in claims against food companies and has harsh words for food and beverage producers.

“If you cannot make mass produced produce safely – don’t sell it. If you put a defective product into commerce and you harm someone, you are responsible. To suggest otherwise, is legally and morally wrong.” – Bill Marler

Estimates are that the listeria outbreak could end up costing Tiger Brand’s in excess of R800m.

Can ISO Management System Standards and preventative controls improve food and beverage safety?

In short, yes. If food and beverage producers pay attention to the big picture and improve food safety through the entire supply chain, food will become safer.

ISO standards and preventative controls encourage food companies to adopt comprehensive monitoring during every step of the food production process.

Risk assessments create higher food safety awareness among producers and food handlers. Increasing food safety awareness also increases people’s awareness of food quality,  as the two go hand in hand.

Food safety and quality management systems provide the framework for record-keeping, training hazard analysis (food safety), prerequisite programs, and so on, which are required in the mandatory preventive controls rules.

Software applications eliminate or reduce paperwork and actively manage food safety and quality by tracking data, which makes analysis easier and, therefore, the management of food safety and quality more efficient.

The ISO 22000 family of International Standards addresses Food Safety management.

ISO 22000 is a certifiable standard and sets out the requirements of a Food Safety management system. Everyone in the food supply chain from farmers and manufacturers to retailers and consumers, can benefit from the guidelines and best practice contained in these ISO standards, which cover everything from food harvesting to product packaging.

The internationally agreed standards help food producers meet legal and regulatory requirements for food products that cross national boundaries.

Issues relevant to consumers such as food safety, nutritional labelling, hygiene, and food additives are also addressed by these standards, which give consumers the peace of mind in knowing that the food they eat meets high standards for safety and quality and contains what it says on the label.

What should food and beverage producers do?

In view of the massive financial losses and reputational damage facing food giant Tiger Brands and the RTE value chain, can any food producer, retailer or anyone involved in the food chain afford not to implement food safety standards or at the very least re-examine Food Safety Management Systems across their entire operation?

Risk ZA offers training courses and consulting services in Food Safety, Quality Management and Risk Assessments for companies that wish to implement or improve on their Food Safety Management practices.

Visit our training course schedule for course details and booking information.

For more information or guidance on which ISO standard(s) and services would best suit the needs of your organisation, please email RISK ZA at: info@riskza.com or contact us on: 0861 Risk ZA / +27 (0) 31 569 5900.

You can share this blog on your preferred social media platform:

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on google
Google+
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
quality-management
SAcoronavirus.co.za