COVID-19 has thoroughly disrupted lives, economies and industries. As with most crises, those who were prepared fared the best. While most companies probably weren’t preparing for a pandemic, following regulations and standards helps in every crisis. The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has been providing some of the most universally accepted standards for 74 years. To see how ISO connects to COVID-19, we spoke to Debby Newslow of D.L. Newslow & Associates, who wrote the book on ISO 9001 — literally. It turns out that ISO 9001, the gold standard for quality management systems (QMS), has proved inadvertently helpful in adapting to the pandemic.
I have received many articles via email recently outlining excellent strategies for implementing enhanced personal protective measures for employees working in essential roles such as food manufacturing. This information is greatly appreciated, and I am glad there are infectious disease experts willing to share their knowledge to protect us all. There is still a role for those of us who promote adherence to a culture of excellence in food safety, even in times such as these when everything other than COVID-19 seems to fall by the wayside. The long-term benefits to the company of adopting ISO 45001-based worker participation strategies will be felt far into the future if your company can strike while the iron is hot and maximize the benefits of a cohesive organizational culture.
There is so much news about Covid-19 and how it can, might, will affect us. How do know what to believe so much of what we are hearing contradicts what we heard last week and likely what we will hear tomorrow. The concept of ISO 45001 based compliance is an excellent structure to apply to our organization, but it takes time. Now we need to look at internal communication. What do we need to communicate and how can we do this effectively. It may take time for a member or team to evaluate the news and do the research to learn the facts; however, this investment is critical to our culture. it is important that our associates hear what matters based on the facts. We can do this for them evaluate, investigate and communicate the facts.
I can preach to the choir about the nature of food safety risks and the fact that it only takes one deviation from our controls to result in a massive disaster – but I would be preaching to the choir. We need practical tips for retaining and motivating our staff at a time when it is hard to be competitive and attractive as an employer. Food safety record keeping can sometimes be perceived as a drudge to be endured, rather than a goal to be achieved.
As a proponent of ISO-based systems in general, I have become a fan of the ISO 45001 focus on worker participation in personal health and safety programs. We as a team promote the opportunity to encourage this concept within the food safety culture as well. Common approaches to the challenge of creating a system for listening and providing feedback to all associates performing work under the control of your organization include the adoption of a suggestion box or anonymous electronic web form where anyone can submit feedback. The key to making these systems work is the workers’ perception of responsiveness from the organization. If the suggestion box is perceived as a black hole where good ideas go to die, don’t expect any participation. We recommend that management identifies a team of associates to monitor these suggestions and they choose the ones that are presented to the management team.
This ties closely in with the idea of internal communication. Organizations must have an effective mechanism for communicating with workers. Depending on the desired message, there are many effective approaches to this challenge. Post printed updates inside the bathroom stalls; it’s a remarkably effective communication tool, and the humor is only a side benefit. Hold town hall meetings that allow anyone to get up and speak. Have the site-level leadership buy lunch for the staff once per quarter and speak on the most pressing issues while they eat. Use paycheck stuffers or, for electronic payroll delivery systems, have a pop-up that appears at log-in and requires a check box for acknowledgement. Supervisors that are remarkably good at motivating their staff may acknowledge them publicly. This energizes everyone. Create a reward system that gives public verbal recognition to staff members seen engaging in positive cultural behaviors. Have a competition between departments for who can score the highest on their KPIs. Get creative!
Be honest with your staff. There may be some belt-tightening measures coming down the pike for all of us. Pretending its not happening doesn’t help anyone. Communicate as honestly and openly as you can. Explain that the cost cutting measures are not aimed at lining anyone’s pockets. Rather, we need to keep our doors open so we can all keep getting paychecks. Treat your staff as you would want to be treated in the same situation, and you may be pleasantly surprised with the mature level of response from those employees you are highly motivated to retain. Set the bar high, and people will rise to it.
I hope these practical strategies will help you to retain and even optimize your food safety culture during this difficult time.
We are pleased to work with and depend on you to bring high-value, positive impact services to food processing manufacturers around the state.
Your company does very thorough training and consulting with your clients. It is a pleasure to work with you.
We are so proud to announce that D.L. Newslow & Associates, Inc. has been voted in the top ten food safety services companies 2020, as reported by Food and Beverage Technology Review! We were nominated by our clients, and we appreciate it so much. We would not be where we are today without our valuable clients, associates, and friends. Thank you all for your continued support!
New Regulation effective January 1, 2020
Related to Hemp/CBD in Florida, effective January 1, 2020, Hemp extract (CBD intended for ingestion) has been incorporated into existing Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) Division of Food Safety programs. Hemp Food Establishment Permits for processing, manufacturing, distributing and retailing will be available and required. Beginning January 2, 2020, Food Safety Inspectors may be on-site at the established conducting establishment inspections, enforcing the new rules and pulling samples for testing for the Hemp Program.
FDACS Division of Food Safety requirements has published a guidance document that establishments can use related to “minimum construction standards.”
Our team of experts have been assisting retail and manufacturing sites in compliance to the US Food and Drug Administration Food Code (on which the FDACS is basing their inspections), construction and GMPs, regulatory compliance, and the content of the Food Safety Manager exam. We would be honored to assist any facility in performing an analysis to these requirements in preparation for on-site inspections. We can assist in understanding the requirements and the journey to compliance. Note that the inspector may visit at any time so compliance education must be understood and practiced by the establishment on a 24/7 basis.
This new law also requires the presence of a Certified Food Safety Manager (also known as the Food Safety Protection Manager) on site when manufacturing is operational.
A Certified Food Protection Manager is the person responsible for the control or supervision over employees who engage in the processing, preparation and service of foods in the food establishment. The food establishment may designate someone other than the person in charge, to be responsible for the safety of the food supply to be certified.
The designated CFSM must:
- Have the knowledge, skills and abilities to identify any hazards in the daily operation of the food establishment;
- Develop and implement policies and procedures to prevent foodborne illness; coordinate employee food safety training;
- Direct food preparation activities and take corrective action as needed to protect the health of the consumer; and
- Conduct periodic in-house self-inspections of daily operations to ensure that food safety policies and procedures are followed.
To become a Certified Food Safety Manager, individuals must successfully pass a certification examination administered by nationally recognized manager certification test providers. Information and applications are available directly from the approved providers. Individuals are not required to attend an examination preparation or training course; however, preparation courses, study guides, and other helpful materials are of offered by each of the approved test provider
For more information on the Certified Food Manager Exam please visit: https://www.fdacs.gov/content/download/23976/file/Food-Protection-Manager-Flyers.pdf
Who is the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS)?
The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) regulates the commercial food supply for compliance with state and federal regulations to minimize the risk of foodborne illness in food products processed, produced, stored, distributed and sold in both retail and wholesale food businesses within the state of Florida.
Regulated establishments include supermarkets and grocery stores, convenience stores, coffee shops, bakeries, retail meat markets, seafood markets, juice and smoothie bars, bottled water plants, ice and water vending machines, all food processing plants, food warehouses, food salvage stores, and certain mobile food units selling only prepackaged foods or non-potentially hazardous food items.
Food establishments are inspected, and food products are sampled routinely for consumer safety.
Presented by Erika Miller
Panel Moderated by Ray Matulka, Ph.D.
Debby Newslow and Alan Lane collaborated on an article for Food Safety Tech. Visit their website to read Part 2! The Part 1 link is also posted on our blog here.
A restaurant worker tested positive for Hepatitis A at a restaurant located in Sun City Center, a Tampa Bay area community with a large proportion of elderly residents. The county is offering free vaccinations to people who may have been exposed.