Food Safety Systems Q1 2018 Newsletter
I’d like to welcome you to the next installment of our newsletter. In this edition, we will share some of our own tips to survive the long winter months. You will also meet our new Customer Service Manager, Jared Harlacher, who we are very excited to have on our team and I am sure you will all be meeting within the next year. Additionally, you will hear all the latest on the industry’s hottest topic, food fraud. We have been learning much about food fraud for the last 12 months as we approach the January 2018 deadline of compliance requirements for all the GFSI recognized manufacturing standards.
This is a time when I like to reflect on the past year--the accomplishments, the missteps, and lessons learned while looking ahead to the next year with goals and objectives as a chance to start anew. At Eurofins Food Safety Systems, we have had many great achievements over the past 12 months: implementing a new management software system, achieving ISO 17021 accreditation, having a productive SQF conference, and partnering with amazing customers.
As we look to 2018, we have plans to launch a new solution for e-learning, expand our BRC certification offerings in North America, provide food fraud training, solutions for vulnerability assessments and mitigation controls, and continue to work hard to provide solutions for our laboratory partners and customers on a daily basis.
Looking ahead, an important focus for us to understand is what will be driving food safety and quality in 2018. In respect to food safety certifications, one phrase comes to mind: standard revision. All the major food safety certification standards which Eurofins conducts will be in a phase of revision.
- The SQF standard moves into Version 8 on Jan 2nd.
- FSSC 22000 transitions to version 4.1 in the spring of 2018.
- FAMI QS has been revised and will be implemented after June 2018.
- Draft reviews of BRC version 8 have already begun to be circulated, with an expected final publish date in late 2018.
There will be many upcoming opportunities in the next few months to learn about those standards which affect you and how the changes will affect your facility. Change to familiar processes and things we know well can be scary. We stand ready to work with all our food safety certification customers to support and assist you through these transitions to the new versions of your standards.
I hope that you enjoy this newsletter, I hope that you had a safe and relaxing holiday season and I wish you a Happy New Year and good luck on achieving all those goals and objectives for 2018.
Where in the World in Eurofins Food Safety Systems?
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 and join us!
International Production & Processing Expo (IPPE)
Jan 30 - Feb 1, 2018
United Fresh Listeria Workshop
Jan 31 - Feb 1, 2018
Engredea / Natural Products Expo West
March 7 - 11, 2018
Seafood Expo North America
March 11-13, 2018
In the first half of 2018 we’ll be hosting webinars in partnership with UNPA and addressing your frequently asked questions on nutrition labeling. Check the Resource Center for upcoming webinars.
To view or register for upcoming training events visit us here: https://www.eurofinsus.com/food-safety/events/
Because 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.
Jared Harlacher, Customer Service Manager
Jared, give us a brief background of yourself!
I have a background in Art & Design. For the past 10 years, I worked in the newspaper industry with various positions in design, customer service, and training. In my last position as Customer Service & Training Manager, I provided service and guidance to our customers and helped develop new employee training. I also lead the training team in developing ongoing training for the staff.
Why did you choose Eurofins?
I chose Eurofins for a new opportunity for growth and development. I want to challenge myself in new ways, learn about a new industry, but also put my skills to use.
It’s Saturday morning. What are you most likely doing?
Usually, I’m making breakfast for my wife and kids, watching cartoons, and enjoying time with my family.
What’s your favorite holiday and why?
My favorite holiday is Christmas. I enjoy spending time with family, exchanging gifts, and celebrating both old and new traditions with my children.
Outside of work, what is your biggest passion?
Art, design, and photography are three of my biggest passions. I’m also a member of the R2 Builders club, and I’m currently building my first droid!
You have a long history in customer service. Without calling out names, what’s the wildest or most bizarre thing you’ve ever had to do to provide “above and beyond” service?
I wouldn’t say “wild” or “bizarre,” but when I was a photographer, we printed everything in house. The printer we used was on the fritz, and it was holiday time. Our repair company said they were unable to make it out for repairs for 3-4 weeks, which meant our customers would not have holiday cards, or pictures to share with family. I did a lot of research on the printer, and stayed late for several days working on it. I was able to get the printer working again; we printed all of our back orders, and the customers were extremely grateful to have photos to share with family and friends for the holidays. The printer broke again (and this time beyond repair) a few weeks later.
5 Risks to Your Food Fraud Program
The term food fraud has been a topic of tall interest recently. This has been largely brought into focus by the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) which has released their new benchmarking requirements document emphasizing the importance of having a finely honed food fraud mitigation plan. With this new focus, all GFSI benchmarked Certified Program Owners have added food fraud vulnerability assessments and mitigation plans into their certification standards.
Diving deeper into the meaning of food fraud, experts define it as deliberate and intentional substitution, addition, misrepresentation of food, or misleading statements made about a product for economic gain that could impact consumer health.
There are two parts to controlling food fraud in any food safety management systems which are 1.) vulnerability assessment and 2.) the mitigation plan. The vulnerability assessment identifies potential risk from your ingredients that could infiltrate your systems. The mitigation plan then puts out a plan to regulate the risk and reduce it.
Below are the top risks that should be considered when developing your food fraud plan.
- Supplier Relationship
Knowing who your suppliers are is a critical step to understanding your risks. Effects to contemplate while reviewing your suppliers are their history, audit strategy, and testing frequency. All of these contribute to their risk rating and potential frauds that could be introduced into your system.
- Supply Chain
Who supplies your suppliers? The entire chain back to the farm should be reviewed as at any point there could have been an adulteration made to the product. The longer the chain, the more risk that can be introduced into the ingredient that you are purchasing for your brand.
- Geopolitical Considerations
Climate can play a big role in food safety as well as surrounding areas and their hardships. In 2011, Fukushima nuclear incident introduced radiation effects in the space that could cross-contaminate ingredients from the area.
- Fraud History
Taking a look at past recalls and exposures to the market can give you a great overview of what ingredients may contain higher risks to food fraud. Past data shows there has been a known fraud in industries such as spices, honey, seafood, oils, wine, juices, and others.
- Economic Anomalies
If the price is too good to be true, it probably is. In 2007, wheat gluten tainted with melamine killed an estimate of 2,000 to 7,000 pets in North America. This was a direct effect of where wheat gluten was sold at a premium price due to a shortage in the marketplace.
Eurofins acts as a partner in the industry, offering end-to-end food fraud mitigation services. Our suite of solutions includes subscriptions to the USP Food Fraud Database, consulting, training, implementation and industry-leading authenticity testing.
As a global leader in authenticity testing and food safety certification, Eurofins is a comprehensive resource when it comes to food fraud avoidance and mitigation. USP is a scientific nonprofit that develops independent, transparent standards of quality for medicines, dietary supplements, and foods. As collaborators, USP and Eurofins have combined their expertise to assist the food sector with specific tools for combating food fraud.
For more information, download and view the webinar “Food Fraud Risk and Mitigation: Arm Your Brand” in our Resource Center.
Ready to get started? Learn more about Food Fraud services and the USP Food Fraud Database.
Eurofins 30th Anniversary Celebration!
During the month of October, Eurofins affiliates all over the world took time out to celebrate 30 years of contributing to the health and safety of everyone on the planet. Food Safety Systems was pleased to participate in the Des Moines, IA celebration on October 11th. The evening kicked off with tours of the Microbiology Lab and Nutritional Analysis Center, with which Food Safety Systems is pleased to share a building.
The celebration continued with live music along with good food and drink. Those in attendance had the opportunity to hear words of appreciation from Sean Murray, President of US Food, and David Bryant, Senior VP of Food and Environment. The local Eurofins team along with global leadership mingled with our industry partners and celebrated what has been accomplished as a team. The efforts toward food safety made by producers around the world are significant and Eurofins is proud to be a partner and a support in those endeavors.
The air we breathe, the food we eat, the water we drink, the everyday products we use, the diagnostic techniques, treatments and medicines we rely on when we are unwell – so often we take them for granted. As we go about our daily lives, many of us scarcely notice the complex processes that keep us, and the environment around us, safe and well.
Eurofins teams around the world strive to be the quiet heroes that stand between you and the hazards of an ever-changing, highly complex world. Our continuous innovation and ceaseless vigilance mean you can trust the products you consume, the medicines you depend on and the environment you live in. We walk beside you every day, keeping your family safe, making our world better.
And that, valued clients, is something to celebrate.
SQF Conference 2017 Update
The SQF Conference in November this year was full of highlights for Eurofins Food Safety Systems. In addition to seeing long-time friends and making new ones, several of our partners achieved high honors.
John Novak, President of Sokol & Company (Solo Foods) was named 2017 SQFI Practitioner of the Year. Sokol & Company first partnered with Eurofins in 2016 to achieve SQF certification. Since then, Sokol has called upon Eurofins instructors and auditors throughout their journey to this recognition.
Natalia Beasley of Champion Petfoods also had the honor of being one of the select few to be nominated for SQF Practitioner of the Year.
Eva Lauve, Scheduling and Food Safety Manager with Stemilt Growers, Inc. was also recognized with the SQFI Distinguished Service Award. Lauve, a Eurofins customer, was recognized for expertise and significant contributions to the food safety industry.
Also receiving commendation was Eurofins SQF Auditor Alan Baumfalk, one of only three finalists for Auditor of the Year. Baumfalk has been an auditor with Eurofins since 2013.
Congratulations to all. We are proud to be on your team!
Creating a Healthy, Happy Work Environment
Your work environment impacts your productivity, creativity, and overall satisfaction. But what if you cannot control the ambiance of your physical space due to the nature of your product or other reasons? Food manufacturers, this almost certainly describes you. There are limitations in what you can physically do with your environment to create a positive vibe. Think about other ways you can impact the well-being of your employees.
Here are a few ideas:
- Take the time to hire the right people, and don’t be afraid to let the wrong ones go. Ensure you are hiring deliberately, not just filling positions with warm bodies. It will cost you in the long run. Be aware of the professionalism of those already on the team as well. One bad attitude can affect the performance of everyone.
- Respect boundaries. When you’ve hired the right people, let them do their job without micromanagement. Speak to your team with authority, but as a leader and coach, not a dictator.
- Control the areas you can. Take a look at shared spaces like breakrooms. Can you add a comfortable seating area? An ice machine? Some healthy options in the vending machines, or better coffee service? It’s all about the details.
- When it comes to the environment, communication may be the single most important factor in determining the mood of the team. Focus on your responsiveness to email and phone calls, and never leave your employees hanging. If you are out of office, ensure a clear line of escalation for them.
Always remember, people leave bosses, not jobs, almost all of the time. If you’re experiencing a high turnover rate it may be time to take a good hard look at the company culture and management style. With some attention to detail and sustained, consistent effort, you can do a lot to contribute to the “health” of your teams!
Just One Thing
The winter months can be difficult for many. Shorter days, colder weather in many climates and the stress of the holidays all take a toll. New Year’s Resolutions often fail because they are unrealistic or not maintainable. Instead of thinking about a major change, think about setting intentions, making small changes to promote health—physical, emotional, mental, spiritual—which can be a good approach for this or any time of year.
We asked some of our colleagues to share with us “just one thing” they do to maintain a healthy lifestyle, in particular through the winter months. Here’s what they had to say:
- “One Thing” I do to help stay healthy mentally, emotionally and spiritually is meditate. Some days this is one hour, sitting and just being in my space. Other days, I squeeze in 10 minutes to just unwind. Ultimately the length of time doesn’t matter, its taking the time for my overall health to let everything go and re-center.—Meg Wolsiffer, Training Coordinator, Eurofins
- My co-workers and I go to the gym together and hold each other accountable. I rely on them to keep me motivated. –Kelsi Young, Certification Specialist, Eurofins
- I train year-round for triathlon, so the winter months are more of my “off-season”. Winter is generally an important time to maintain a routine so as to not lose fitness, but at the same time to allow myself a little more time to reconnect with family and friends while the demands of training aren’t as rigorous. It is good for my body and my soul. --Connie McGarrah, Business Development Manager, Eurofins
- I take one day every week to completely unplug and disconnect. Even my kids respect this as a day that I need to do something for me, or nothing at all.—Bambi Brokaw, Project Specialist
- I run or walk on the treadmill when I can’t get outside.—Jared Harlacher, Customer Service Manager
- In the summer I play tennis, but the winter months take me inside to the gym. The important thing is to keep moving year-round. –Almina Kovacevic, Project Specialist
And lastly, the following delicious, healthy recipe is bound to be a hit with your entire squad and perk up your plate. It comes to us from Audra Foreman, Project Specialist. We wish you all the best in the New Year and hope you join us in taking positive steps toward a healthy 2018!