December 16, 2011 1 Comment
I just received my latest copy of ‘Food Manufacturing Insider’ daily email. I love glancing over this email because they do a great job of catching your attention with interesting article titles. The title that caught my attention this afternoon wasn’t at all sensational, but still peaked my interest enough to commit to click and read further.
The article is entitled ‘Gummy Bears Recalled For Metal Contamination’. I love Gummy Bears and have for quite sometime – so this had an undeniable personal connection. I’m sure like the dozens of processing facilities I’ve toured in the past year this facility had the requisite HACCP plan duly documented and sitting on the shelf in a three-ring binder – waiting for the auditor to inspect. I’m sure that the very expensive high-speed in-line packaging line putting thousands of Gummies into their temporary home had a sophisticated metal detector that triggered alarm bells and shut down the line if any amount of metal crossed its path.
So what happened? The processor packaged on behalf of the Winn Dixie supermarket chain enough metal tainted Gummy Bears to warrant a recall spanning 30 days in various stores across the southeast. This is one of those potentially company ending incidents that we all read about almost every day. Very preventable and very serious not only to the consumer but the brand identity of everyone involved – So what happened?
I have a hunch – for many companies the HACCP plan and the metal detector are simply window dressing to satisfy an auditor or a large retail customer but are not part of an integrated preventative approach or attitude to quality. In order to produce high quality food products that are safe for consumers, food processors need to think differently. When making children’s candy is it OK to record HACCP data on a clipboard that may or may not get the attention of the QC manager at the end of the shift. Is it OK that the HACCP plan – which should mitigate the risk of this specific threat - simply gathers dust until the annual review is required.
The obvious answer is ‘No’ – all companies want to do better and should be doing better especially with such a straightforward CCP as metal detection. My company Plex is changing the way food processors think about ERP systems, food quality and compliance. We recently received an award from Food Logistics highlighting our progress – click here to read more.
I’d be interested to know how you view this issue – is your HACCP plan more than just a show piece on the shelf? Is your approach to quality preventative?
How did we get to the point where I have to now think twice when eating my favorite candy?