Our Business is Food. The Purpose is Life.
It is my pleasure to welcome you to the first Eurofins Food Safety Systems newsletter. It is our intention with this newsletter to share regulatory updates, technical news from the industry and insights from our experts within Eurofins. In this issue, you will hear from our Technical Manager on updates to FSSC 22000 and SQF, as both have revisions taking effect in early 2018. We will also share some discussion from our client services group, tips on managing email and some healthy living information.
At Eurofins, our goal is to be a full-service partner for our clients and customers, one who focuses on practical solutions for technical issues of regulatory or customer significance. Using good sense and good science, we provide services which can affect the food business. But more importantly, we strive to provide services which will affect life and promote a safer and higher quality life for all our customers and employees.
Many of us have been focused on the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), specifically the preventive controls rules for human and animal food as well as the Foreign Supplier Verification Program (FSVP). This landmark piece of legislation, the most significant since 1938, will affect the global food supply chain far and wide. These rules focus on food safety in human and animal food handling, which will certainly have an impact on life, potentially saving lives.
At Eurofins, we have been conducting training courses, consulting activities, testing activities and audits all around compliance to FSMA and its rules. While doing so, we have educated hundreds on safe handling of food and tested thousands of food products, potentially keeping unsafe food out of the marketplace. We will never know many lives that FSMA or the work that we do at Eurofins will save. We will never hear about the facility which did not have a recall because they implemented a food safety plan with appropriate preventive controls. But the professionals at Eurofins do not need to know those numbers. We know that the work that we do matters. Each day we work with our customers and employees to promote life. We welcome you to join us in this endeavor.
Eurofins Food Safety Systems is headquartered in Des Moines, IA, but we can be found all over the place at a variety of events. Check out our upcoming appearances, both in person and online, and join us!
Produce Marketing Association Fresh Summit, New Orleans, LA. October 19-21, 2017
SQF International Conference, Dallas, TX. November 7-9, 2017
Food Fraud Risk and Solutions: Arm Your Brand (Guest speaker from USP) - 10/17
SQF Learning Lunch Gary Smith to present "Approved Supplier Program" - 10/26
Is Your Environmental Monitoring Program Hitting the Mark? (In partnership with BRC) - 11/29
To view or register for upcoming training events visit us here: 2017/2018 Training Courses
While we don’t all get to know you personally, we want to open ourselves up and let you get to know the Eurofins Food Safety Team! We are proud of the group we have assembled, and it continues growing. Each quarter we will feature a brief interview with a different team member and give you a better taste of who we are, in and out of the office.
Deborah Farmer, Auditor
What is your area of specialty?
Animal Feed Ingredients
How long have you worked in Food Safety?
I have held roles with responsibility for Food Safety over the past 10 years.
What is your background (briefly)?
I have a BS in Business Management and an MBA. I have had the opportunity to spend 9 years as a Mosaic Quality Assurance Team member where my primary responsibilities included managing their Safe Feed Safe Food Program for multiple sites, developing and implementing the Food Safety Modernization Act program, customer complaint investigations and product quality. More recently I have been auditing for Eurofins. At the beginning of the year I was a contractor then I joined the team as an employee in May.
Why did you choose Eurofins?
During my employment with Mosaic, I was a customer of Eurofins. I had several positive experiences working with Eurofins’ auditing and consulting teams. Once I decided to change my career path and pursue auditing, I knew that I wanted to be a part of a growing organization and one that is considered an industry leader.
It’s Saturday morning. What are you most likely doing if you aren’t traveling?
I participate in a community co-ed softball league. We gather twice a month for games and socialization. We pride ourselves on being positive in our community and host two fundraisers a year. Last year we raised about $15,000 to donate to a community food pantry and a special needs organization. Once a year we also identify a family in need within our community to assist with medical expenses or other basic needs.
What is your favorite place to visit for personal travel? What do you love about it?
I grew up in Kentucky and as a child, we would vacation either in northern Ohio on Lake Erie or in Gatlinburg, TN. I love returning to the mountains and enjoying friends and family while being a bit nostalgic.
What will we find on your iTunes?
Top 40’s such as Bruno Mars, Ellie Goulding, Coldplay, Maroon 5, Adele, Pharrell Williams and much more. I need lots of music for my travel days.
Cake or pie?
Cake, I love buttercream icing.
You are a traveler. Tell us an epic or funny travel story!
I have actually been very lucky in my travels and have not experienced too many epic travel days. I have endured canceled flights leaving me stranded, lost luggage, and had delays over 12 hours.
The most epic story would be when I had a two-week long trip that included stops in three California cities, two in Texas and then one in Edmonton, Canada. I had a connection in LAX on my way to Edmonton where I had about 30 minutes to make my connection due to flight delays. If you don’t already know, LAX is not the airport to have a tight connection. Because I was traveling internationally, I had to change terminals which meant I had to take a shuttle to another terminal and then go through security, again. WestJet Airlines was sending text messages and announcing last call for the flight several times.
I encountered two young gentlemen on the shuttle who were in my same situation trying to make the same flight and the three of us worked together, trying to communicate to their friends at the gate to ask them to hold the flight because we were on our way. The three of us ran through the airport like crazy people, cutting the line at security and then trying to find the gate. We were running barefoot after security with bags flying, people dodging and a lot of yelling trying to make a path to the gate. Eventually, we were able to catch the flight. Needless to say, our luggage did not.
The following morning I woke up in Edmonton, Canada in unexpected 40° weather (yes, that is cold to a Floridian) with no jacket, no clean clothes or toiletries other than what I was able to pick up at the store the night before. I showed up to the client’s facility in casual shoes, clothes worn the day before and no makeup. I walked into a very nice office building expecting the usual one or two participants, only to be greeted by about 30 people. After introducing myself and apologizing for my appearance while being completely humiliated, I sucked it up and continued to conduct the audit. After my Closing Meeting, the Q & FS Leader walked me to my car expressing gratitude and actually asked if she could give me a hug. To date, that was by far the best audit experience I have had. It was my first perfect score on an audit and the most educational trip.
Today, I carry a light jacket and some clean clothes with me in my backpack.
Audit Program Updates: SQF and FSSC
As food safety practices evolve throughout the food manufacturing and distributing industry, it can be expected that evolutions are made in the certification schemes that are used to determine the adequacy and robustness of food safety management systems that are in use. As many are aware, the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) is a benchmarking group for a number of these schemes; and they have released volume 7.1 of their benchmarking requirements. Two of the more popular schemes, SQF (Safe Quality Food) and FSSC 22000 (Food Safety System Certification 22000), were waiting for this release in order to properly update their scheme requirements. The changes that have been made in both of these schemes can be considered evolutions more than revolutions. The methods in which certificates are earned and maintained remain the same, but there have been additional requirements created and the framework of the schemes has changed slightly.
Changes to SQF
The most notable change to SQF is that the scheme is now split into different “codes” for the food sector for which they are designed. In the past, the SQF code was one large document that had to be fished through by each supplier to determine the requirements (i.e. modules) that they were required to meet. Now, the code has been split into the following:
- Food Safety Code for Primary Production
- Food Safety Code for Food Retail
- Food Safety Code for Manufacturing
- Food Safety Code for Manufacture of Food Packaging
- Food Safety Code for Storage and Distribution
Another significant change in the scheme is the elimination of the “Level 1, 2, and 3” monikers that were in place in the past. They now exist as their own “codes” and individual certificates. Level 1 has been replaced with “Food Safety Fundamentals”. Level 2 is now considered the “Food Safety Code”. Level 3 is now a stand-alone “Quality Code”. It should be noted that a supplier is unable to obtain the “Quality Code” without having a valid “Food Safety Code” certificate.
SQF has also had some slight changes in the food sector categories to better represent the activities that they represent, but these modifications did not significantly affect the modules that are used to evaluate a site. Additionally, a site now has the option to move to fully unannounced audits versus one every 3 cycles. Choosing to do so will result in their certificate indicating that they are an “SQF Select Site”.
Finally, one more change to SQF is that the food safety plan section has now been split out into multiple questions that line up with NACMCF HACCP Guidelines versus being a singular clause identified as the “food safety plan”.
Changes to FSSC 22000
FSSC 22000 also modified their program in order to the meet the GFSI benchmarking requirements. The setup of the scheme has not changed as it still is composed of ISO 22000:2005, the applicable PRP technical specification (e.g. ISO/TS 22002-1:2009 for food manufacturing), and FSSC scheme-specific requirements. The most significant change is that it is now applicable to food catering, food retail, and transport & storage services; these were all outside of scope in the past. Another change is in these scheme-specific requirements as they have been expanded to include food fraud (discussed below), food defense, allergen management, product labeling, environmental monitoring, and logo use.
Additionally, unannounced audits are now part of the scheme. One of the two annual surveillance audits is required to be unannounced. The audit that is to be unannounced is selected by the certification body, not the site.
An important addition that both SQF and FSSC 22000 made was in the area of food fraud. Food fraud has been added to each of the schemes with a “vulnerability assessment” being required. This identifies susceptible areas within a supplier. Mitigation strategies are to be developed and implemented. Environmental monitoring and allergen control area also identified as having more robust requirements in place.
Finally, both schemes go into effect at the start of 2018 and the old versions (edition 7.2 for SQF and version 3.2 for FSSC 22000) will no longer be used.
Overall, the schemes have been updated to provide more robust food safety management systems within the food chain and provide more confidence from suppliers. Although there will be additional work to meet the modifications that have been made, the work will result in a more effective food safety management system and will be worth the effort.
Customer Service Excellence
As your full-service provider, Eurofins Food Safety Systems works hand-in-hand with our laboratories to ensure your testing needs are met in conjunction with our other services. We want you to know what we are doing to be the best partner for you that we can be.
As part of Eurofins’ continuing goal to provide great service to our customers, Eurofins US has set up the Eurofins Customer Service Excellence Program. Our customer service teams from all locations meet via web link each month to discuss current topics and exchange ideas on customer service excellence. Our goal is to continuously develop the skills of our customer service staff and ability to assist our customers.
Topics such as the latest in communications and IT innovations are delivered internally across all labs. This means our customer service staff can quickly assist customers with results, inquiries and any questions they have regarding other services. Legislative requirements for all areas of human and pet food production can be communicated to our customers in advance by their assigned customer service staff, helping our customers stay current in their markets.
But we aren’t stopping there. As part of our continuous improvement efforts and to keep our teams at pace with the success of our customers, our business development teams are being educated as well.
As testing methodology developments occur across the globe, Eurofins US is making sure all of our staff can help our customers as their businesses grow. Our business development staff meets as one group twice per month to receive updates regarding existing services and new ones across all food industries. Our technology platforms are also expanding, so our customers have greater access to their results and information for data mining and reporting, on our secure platforms. This will help our customers with business planning for their future success.
Our business development staff with specialized knowledge of certain areas of food manufacturing--for example dairy, meat, or pet food--take part in sharing information between labs and sales staff, ensuring that help is only a phone call or email away for our customers.
Our customer service and business development teams are your front line. They are your face to Eurofins. We take seriously their relationship with you, our customer, and their ability to provide you with accurate, quality service.
Unplugging without Coming Unglued: Tips to Manage Your Email after Time Out of Office
We’ve all been there. You travel, you have meetings, you are sick, or you go on vacation. Your “Out of Office” reply is humming, the emails are piling up in your inbox and you’re missing important items.Here are a few of our favorite tips for digging out after time away, and some of them are helpful for day to day.
- Prepare to be away.
Hopefully, you already organize your emails in folders and have an “empty inbox mindset”. Please tell us you do. If not, we aren’t sure how to talk to you right now. But seriously, if you don’t, please start doing that immediately. None of this works if you live in a constant state of 300 emails in your inbox. That’s no way to live. Make a spic and span inbox a priority when you know you are going to be out. Preparation is key.
So, you’ve cleared, or almost cleared your inbox by placing all emails into clearly marked folders before you ever leave and set that out of office reply, because your time management and organization skills are stellar, right? Right. But you go away for a week and you still come back to 942 emails.
- Control your return.
If you’ve been completely offline for vacation or otherwise, start by opening your email client on your computer, not your mobile device. The minute you start cherry-picking 942 emails on your phone, you lose track of what you need to address.
If you’re a frequent traveler, you’re reading your emails on your phone all the time. (Most of us do that whether we travel or not, no matter what the “experts” say about it. It’s a great way to multi-task.) We get that. Keep up with organization every day or two, and you should still be in good shape. Tip #4 really only applies for an extended time unplugged.
- Create an ACTION folder. We’ll tell you what to do with it in a minute. For now, make sure it’s there.
And frankly, you can name it whatever you want. Call it Beyoncé. Doesn’t matter. Just know that it demands attention and you’re coming back to it.
- Sort and Conquer.
Clear out obvious junk first. Delete that mess. Then sort by your boss, a client you’ve been waiting to hear from, the colleague you interact with the most, and so on. You have to decide your priorities for this. Decide who or what needs your attention first and then go down the list. This is usually not “Received” order.
The emails you can respond to quickly, handle immediately. The ones that you need to read but don’t require action, read and file (in your folders, you know?)
Do not, we repeat, do not get caught up in a big project while you still have 443 emails waiting to be properly categorized.
This is where your ACTION folder comes in. When you come across an item that will require further attention or that you just need to read a few more times to understand what-in-the-name-of-Pete- happened while you weren’t looking, it goes into your ACTION folder. Then, when you have a nice, lovely, blank screen, you can go back to it and start tackling those one by one, working them into your regular day to day. Make it a goal to have the ACTION items off your plate within a week.
- Set a goal to touch every email once and only once before it is filed. This is a good rule to follow every single working day. Delete, read, file, or act. Done.
Reclaim your inbox and rest easier on your business travel or your vacation, knowing you’ve got the recovery week under control!
Back to School: Healthy Kids
By now, most kids are back to school settled into their routines. Maybe they have even already brought home an unfortunate virus or two. What can we do to create a “culture” of food safety in our homes and with our kids so they develop good habits even while they are not under parental supervision?
Here’s an idea. It’s a fun project for home or the classroom. And of course, our favorite projects are those that touch on food safety. The following experiment could even be conducted at your manufacturing plant as an impactful demonstration about hand washing.
- Fresh loaf of bread
- Plastic sandwich bags with a zipper closure
What to Do:
Using clean hands and gloves, place a slice of bread in a baggie and label as “Control”. Next, perform a thorough hand washing and place a slice of bread in a second baggie. Label this baggie as “Clean Hands”. Finally, pass around a third slice of bread. Let everyone touch it with their hands. After the bread slice has been passed around the room, place it in a baggie labeled as “Dirty Hands”. Place the three baggies somewhere they can be easily seen and monitored. A few days later, the bread slices will tell a good story about the importance of good hand-washing.
This activity also makes a great science fair experiment for younger children. Not only will the lesson drive home the importance of hand-washing, it may spark an early interest in food science.