Introducing a Free Webinar on Food Safety Management

On Tuesday 12th December between 1-2pm, Klipspringer Director, Alex Carlyon was joined by Denis Treacy, former Chief Officer for Safety and Quality at Pladis Global and John Carter, former GFSI Board Member, to discuss the four energies required for predictable and repeatable outcomes in Food Safety Management. Together, they shared practical advice and insights from careers spanning over 40+ years in the food industry, with a live Q&A session at the end of the webinar.


Speakers

Denis Treacy

Former Chief Officer for Safety and Quality, Pladis Global

John Carter

Former GFSI Board Member

Alex Carlyon

Director, Klipspringer

Key webinar areas:

Is there such a thing as Zero Defect Food Safety?


The Four Energies of predictable and repeatable outcomes:

Strategy

Performance

Organisation

Culture


A closer look at the importance of Functional Equity.

Q&A

There was a Q&A section towards the end of the webinar. Due to the number of questions sent in, there wasn’t time for the panelists to answer in full. With this in mind, Denis Treacy kindly took the time to answer each query. You can find his answers listed below.

What is the most important action I can take to improve the part of the culture that encourages being curious when we find failure (rather that judging others), especially when some colleagues are busy spinning on the spot?

It is difficult to determine a single action without understanding the specific challenges within an organisation. I would start with questions such as: Who are the stakeholders? What does the internal business culture promote? However, some initial advice would be to implement a Continuous Improvement Process linked to a HSE style, near miss reporting strategy. This will encourage everyone at your site to look for, identify, and report anything that could reduce efficiency, increase risk, or promote the ‘papering over’ of issues. 

Do you have any advice on implementing these strategies into a work force that has 80% different nationalities? The language barriers in my workplace makes training so much harder.

The more diverse a workforce, the more opportunity there is for you to reach a better solution. After all, different cultures may have experience of different routes to success. The obvious challenge is to ensure the language of the manufacturing plant is common, the signage is visual not verbal, the training and direction is understood, and the daily behaviours set the unspoken example. 

What can a business do to incentivize the independence of its staff?

Giving authority to those who know and understand how processes can be run optimally (e.g. process operators or inbound materials teams) can be a very successful route to take if carefully planned and well supported. This can have a dramatic impact on the extent to which individuals and teams become invested in their work. I have a few examples that I have used in the past. One is to put technical drawings of the plant up on its walls before asking your operators and craft team members to write any issues and ideas onto the drawings. Encourage them to think about how the plant could run more efficiently, with less waste, better compliance to spec, and a more effective approach to the cleaning of kit.

Is there any real difference between what we measure and what we target when it comes to performance indicators for Hygiene/Food safety? 

Emphatically, yes! There are many areas we want to understand and monitor (PI’s and KPI’s), so we have a breadth of data to interrogate and turn into information that will support our decisions. This data will lead us to make changes and improvements across all manner of areas. However, when we set targets for colleagues within our organisation, it becomes about what they are most likely to focus on, so we have to be mindful that these targets need to deliver not just the objective, but the broader business benefit and motivation. I will cover this in further detail during the second FSI webinar. 

What software is suited to a maintenance team in manufacturing that needs to log and prioritise issues that need to be fixed? We currently have a reactive maintenance team, as opposed to a proactive one that carries out preventative maintenance. 

There is a plethora of software platforms that enable the creation of PPM (Planned Preventative Maintenance), so it is a case of assessing the various merits, costs and integration capabilities. At one point, my preferred system was SAP PM, but I recognise it was very expensive and it took a huge resource to populate the data flush before it became operational. If there is already some kind of system or engineering LAN (Local Area Network) available, you may be able to get a PM module on top.

In smaller businesses, where main decisions are undertaken by owners and not trained professionals, how can you drive improvement when the mindset of the senior manager / strategy of the business is to take large risks and to save money?

Anyone would struggle to get traction in a business with leaders who are deliberately reckless, knowingly negligent, and deliberately putting consumers at risk. Individuals like this are criminals. However, there is a means by which you could encourage the right direction in a business focussed on margins and that is to use margins to your advantage. If you can demonstrate your ability to generate value (in terms of financial gains), you may well find that you have a platform to build off. You need to start thinking commercially and get into the detail of budgets to see where your solutions could positively impact costs. Don’t just focus on the theoretical ‘cost of quality’ or the avoidance of penalty costs, these factors won’t motivate a factory manager. 

What does GOYA stand for?

GOYA has an element of Gemba walks to it, but without the part where you wait for an event to investigate or a particular team to deliver it. A good example of this is when I created some simple pocket cards to brief team members and visitors to sites (e.g. internal leaders). This enabled them to create a valued intervention whenever they walked the plant. GOYA is about driving an internal culture through the ‘supervision’ barrier and into the “independent” category. Imagine walking into a manufacturing facility, meeting the Factory Manager and asking them questions such as: Is your factory operating safely today? Is it in a clean & hygienic condition? Are all of the products you are making totally in spec? If so, let’s go and check together. This exchange reflects an example principle of GOYA. 

What would be the benefit of having Hygiene/Food Safety as part of the leadership team business strategy? 

Business leadership teams decide on the strategy and direction of a site. They also make major decisions relating to resources, budgets and capital allocations. They do this based on the risks they are aware of, or understand. If elements of their responsibility as leaders are not well represented or understood, they will make less appropriate decisions and may not invest effectively. It therefore benefits any organisation to ensure all risks (such as food safety) are represented at a leadership level, so the most appropriate decisions are made to minimise risk.

Surely a business that focuses energy, effort, and investment into driving a food safety culture would have stronger performance than one that doesn’t? 

Not necessarily. If a business lacks the strategic intent to resource the factors that drive a reduction in food safety risks, if it does not qualify or measure the right performance indicators, if it doesn’t nurture the right energy around how it communicates, food safety culture will not be a sustainable change and the business will find itself falling foul of recurring issues. In this instance, food safety culture will only ever exist as a campaign that begins with a flourish, but decays over time. 

Do you have any advice on turning your ideas into action? I have a few managers that don’t seem to be listening to me regarding my continuous improvement ideas. 

Identify how your ideas will reduce costs, put a financial argument together that delivers a cost or resource reduction (you may need to think laterally about how that gets delivered and it may not be in a budget you control). Then, find stakeholders (like the finance or ops team) to review it and support your argument. I guarantee this will start the internal debate. 

In the webinar, you mentioned that remaining curious is essential when dealing with setbacks and problems, yet earlier, you stated that targeting failure will lead to failure in itself. Please can you elaborate and clarify this difference. 

Using negative measures of failure, such as consumer complaints, to target quality improvements could motivate teams to focus on redefining the measure, reclassifying consumer feedback, or trying to pass responsibility for consumer defects elsewhere. Targeting improvements in areas such as process capability allows for a more collaborative effort in driving reduced defects and better outcomes. I will cover this in further detail during the second FSI webinar. 

A major pain point for our business is getting larger chains to improve their customer experience in a way that covers all ingredients and not just the 14 main allergens. Supply Chain leaders find it difficult to collect data sheets from suppliers which means their allergen communications to customers are often very risky.

This is all about understanding the key issues at play: the size of the operation, the transient nature of the workforce, and the unknowns in the supply chain. The primary solution is to work with the information you have to create a Risk Reduction Strategy. You can then use your Risk Assessment framework to identify areas where you could improve, tighten, or even relax controls. Finally, list these objectives in order of priority, starting with the data or intervention that will give you the biggest risk reduction.

Can we apply the concepts of: unconsciously incompetent, consciously incompetent, consciously competent, unconsciously competent to your route map towards Zero Defect Food Safety?

This is indeed a platform I have used in that respect and one which will help to facilitate the growth of competence and capability within a function. Being able to understand what your team members don’t know and why they don’t know it, is the first step to growing their awareness. For example, someone who has never suffered from a food intolerance nor had any dealings with anyone who has a food intolerance, may be completely unaware of the problem. They are unlikely to become competent just because they have ‘had the training’ so will remain a threat to food safety. In other words, one is unlikely to be able to drive a car just because they’ve read an instruction manual. 


Culture Compass

After 40 years in global FMCG leadership, Denis Treacy founded Culture Compass with the intention of energising a performance culture for individuals, teams, and organisations. Specialising in Safety, Quality, Food Safety, Food Defence, Business Continuity, and Crisis Management, Culture Compass has been securing predictable, sustainable outcomes for almost half a decade.


Klipspringer

For over 20 years, Klipspringer has supported thousands of food and beverage production sites across Ireland and the UK. By working closely with industry professionals, we have helped these sites to secure final product integrity and compliance with confidence. Our innovative products and solutions have also helped teams to reach the desired standards of food safety management.

If you would like support with your own Food Safety Management procedures, simply fill out the form below.