Quality management gone awry….
It was reported last week that a major provider of chicken products to supermarkets had to suspend operations after a press investigation allegedly exposed food safety breaches. BBC news report.
The company themselves acknowledged “ an internal investigation had shown “some isolated instances of non-compliance” at its plant in West Bromwich. They went on to say
“We have therefore decided to temporarily suspend operations at the site to allow us the time to retrain all colleagues, including management, in all food safety and quality management systems.”
But why a photo of bananas?
There are so many aspects to this story that can be directly related to management systems, especially those based on ISO standards.
The latest version of ISO 9001 should have bene essential reading for the company. Risk based thinking is, along with strategic business planning, the most fundamental philosophies behind the standard. Surely Senior Management must have thought just how damaging such revelations would be to the company? Maybe not as we all know how competitive the food retail sector is. Nevertheless, brand reputation is inestimably valuable; very hard to establish, all too easy to loose, as this case shows.
Monitoring the business, properly
Another essential aspect of all ISO based management systems is effective monitoring and measurement of the key aspects of the business. Such a fundamental breakdown of controls should never have been allowed to go unnoticed (or, worse, noticed but not acted upon).
People matter, and there are two final comments to be made on this:
1.Leadership sets the tone and culture.
For whatever reason staff took the actions that led to this shocking behaviour. Why? We don’t know, and the company suggest it is a training issue (which we will come to). What training do you need to know that changing dates to extend the shelf life of products is not a good thing to do?
The culture of the business determines what actions are seen to be acceptable or not, and culture starts at the top
To get people working the way you need them to you need to
Be clear on the skills and competencies needed for the role
Ensure recruitment identifies the right candidates
Induct people correctly
Provide ongoing awareness and skills training
This should be proactively done, not reactively after such a fundamental business failing as this.