Following the success of the Food Safety Innovation Conference 2023, Denis Treacy, a key speaker at the event, recently joined Klipspringer Director, Alex CarlyonSales Director at FoodClean, Lars Turner, and Technical Quality Manager and Sustainability Lead at Nestlé Nespresso S.A, Reineke van Riemsdijk for an engaging webinar on Predictable Food Safety Outcomes. The Webinar explored the way in which positive energy can be harnessed to secure predictable food safety outcomes, paying particular attention to Denis’s Four Energies methodology and the principle of GOYA.

You can scroll down to read our key takeaways from this webinar. Alternatively, you can navigate the menu below to skip straight to the section most relevant to your needs… 

Is there such a thing a Zero Defect Food Safety?

Is there such a thing as Zero Defect Food Safety?

Zero Defect Food Safety requires the elimination of all risk and the guarantee that your product is safe. Arguably, this was the original purpose of HACCP when it was first introduced in the sixties.

The key principles of HACCP require you to:

  • Consider all Food Safety risks relating to your product
  • Map those risks and determine the control measures
  • Monitor those control measures and deploy any mitigations

Too often, sites will overlook the importance of the monitoring process, with this principle asking you to identify exactly what you are looking for, along with the best way to find out if your processes are working.

The Four Energies of Repeatable and Predictable Outcomes 

If you are going to secure repeatable and predictable food safety outcomes, you need to achieve a balance of four key energies: Strategy, Performance, Organisation, and Culture.

  • Strategy relates to the choices surrounding the policies, rules, operating standards, partners, resources, and risk profile of your business.
  • Performance relates to how a business manages its information, what it chooses to target, and how it responds to feedback.
  • Organisation relates to how you structure resources, determine competency, allocate responsibility, and support credibility.
  • Culture relates to leadership and behaviours, internal relationships, business and personal values, and positive motivation.

The Power of Positive Objectives

A fear of failure will never change a culture or deliver predictable and repeatable outcomes. The most it can do is secure the short-term attention of your operatives – motivating them to make changes in the moment, only to revert back to their previous approach as soon as they forget, stop being observed, or fail to see the importance of their actions.  

If you set targets for failure at your site, you will drive focus towards the reduction of the appearance of failure. As a consequence, the culture at your site will be one of judgement, impatience, frustration, anxiety, and even hostility. 

Alternatively, if you set targets for success, you will drive focus towards positive energy and will improve the likelihood of success. As a consequence, the culture at your site will be one of curiosity, innovation, understanding, and flexibility.  

You will be contributing to a fear of failure at your site if you sets objectives against lag measures. Such measures include cleaning fails, audit non-compliances, and foreign body complaints. Instead, positive objectives should be set in response to preventative measures such as incident near miss reports, shift performance management, and hazard observations.  

The GOYA Principle

The GOYA Principle is the process of encouraging everyone at your site to:

  • Be accountable, get involved, have a view, step forward, take ownership, and intervene
  • Ask questions, challenge, observe, inspect, calibrate, and compare
  • Have an impact and set actions in motion
  • Look for solutions everywhere and at all times, and embrace belief
  • Seek and reward success, and find fascination in failure

The Bradley Curve illustrates the relationship between safety issues and corporate culture. It also provides a way for you to evaluate the culture at your site, helping you to decide if it is reactive, dependent, independent, or interdependent. The GOYA Principle seeks to exploit the final option: interdependent culture.

Positive Decision Making

However effective we believe our preventative measures to be, it is vital that we are prepared for any issues should they occur. After all, it is how we react to these issues that defines our internal culture. 

It is impossible to overstate the importance of risk assessment, as it allows you to predict vulnerabilities, map the risks to your site, and identify controls. 

This process should be ongoing. Instead of waiting for a risk to express itself in your product, you need to take action as soon as you realise something is amiss. Drawing on the GOYA Principle, you should take responsibility for any risks – intervening immediately.  

You will also need to remember the following equation: 

Risk = Impact x Likelihood 

It follows then that you can mitigate risk by reducing both of these factors. A Map Grid will help you to do this, offering a prime opportunity for you to plan for continuity and prepare for crisis. It is worth noting that if you don’t use a Map Grid to monitor and mitigate risk, you will likely have to return to it when determining your response to failure.  

Q&A

When it comes to setting positive targets, what role does sampling and testing play? For example, would the swabbing of equipment following a clean factor into positive target setting?

Put simply, sampling and testing should confirm what is already known and understood. It should also provide documented proof that a system or process is working. If you view sampling and testing as a ‘discovery process’, this suggests the system or process has not been fully or adequately risk assessed – left vulnerable, unpredictable, and liable to surprise.

How do I implement GOYA at my site and how do I ensure it becomes part of a routine practice?

This will work much the same as an Operational Excellence Program. First, you need to identify areas for attention, such as GMP or Good Manufacturing Practices. You will then need to establish a ‘desired state’ to work towards, before deciding on the steps that need to be taken to achieve this goal. The GOYA Principle comes into play when you engage everyone at your site – dividing the steps into manageable parts with specific areas of focus. These areas could relate to factory zones, departments, or groups of people. This strategy will then be deployed in a similar manner to a Strategic Objective Cascade – making sure to implement a routine monitoring process.

If we take the example of a GMP improvement condition, the ‘desired state’ would include elements such as shadow boards, marcation areas, dedicated storage, and photos of the ‘desired state’. The zone in question will also be inspected on a regular basis, with the inspection comparing how the area should look to how the area does look. Instead of simply identifying ‘non-compliances’, you will need to ask: why? This question should be asked of every difference to the ‘desired state’. You will then need to investigate and identify sustainable changes that will rectify these differences.

How can a ‘Crisis Management Process’ be included in a system of Positive Decision Making? Surely, by its very description, ‘Crisis Management’ denotes failure?

If we consider Crisis Management to be a rare and unique event that only happens when disaster is imminent, then it never will form part of a Positive Improvement Process.

However, if we imagine a pyramid, with Crisis and Disaster at the very top, our positive focus will be drawn to the base where many tiny routine occurrences, such as a product that is out of specification, indicate opportunities for improvement.

Crisis Management should be viewed as an anomaly process that has routine at the base and escalates gradually. Each event should be understood, with its nature positively investigated and a sustainable change implemented.

The escalation would look like this:

Out of Spec Product – Adjust process

Out of Spec Product – Re-process product

Out of Spec Product – Send to waste

Out of Spec Product – Product presents a risk

The situation is only a crisis if this escalation happens outside the control of the plant – i.e. if the product is already in the supply chain.

Surely most academics, audit bodies, and educational institutes recognise a Positive Food Safety Culture as the single most important area of focus when it comes to improving food safety?

Chasing the mirage of a Food Safety Culture without some fundamental basics in place could actually increase vulnerability, unpredictability and the likelihood of failures. Instead, you need to ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is there a robust and reliable Planned Preventive Maintenance (PPM) process in place at my site?
  • Does the Operations team manage the Critical Control Points?
  • Does product, process, pest or hygiene monitoring ever deliver ‘surprises’?
  • Is production subject to ‘Positive Release’, with products checked and tested before being released into the supply chain?
  • Does the procurement team have authority to change material sources, specifications, or delivery formats without reference to the HACCP team?
  • Does my site have a less than favourable Health and Safety performance?

If you answer ‘yes’ to any of these questions, Food Safety Culture becomes an irrelevant ideal.

Why is setting targets for the reduction of Foreign Bodies described as a ‘failure measure’ and not one that promotes improvements in food safety?

Here, the positive objective would be to deliver measurable foreign body prevention objectives, such as an ever increasing Engineering PPM compliance, the positive control of segregation, researched and optimised cleaning schedules, or training and competency development. In contrast, foreign bodies or any non-spec inclusions, be they physical, chemical or biological, are a fail.

What is the best approach to adopt if you are struggling to push through ideas at your site?

If you feel like you are saying the right thing, but it’s not being heard, I would recommend sitting down with someone from your Finance Team. You need to find out how much of a positive financial impact your idea could have on the wider business. This should help you to get through to people who are primarily focused on costs, savings, financial targets, factory downtime ect… Say you go to your Operations Team with a £10,000 opportunity, they are much more likely to engage with your idea than if you turned up with a partially-developed plan.

The Food Safety Innovation Conference 2024

In this webinar, Denis highlighted the importance of attending industry events. He shared:

“I believe that when you are working in any industry where you are managing risk, it’s your obligation to seek and find knowledge, and network with other food service providers. I’ve been to many conferences, and there is no better place for you to do this than at The Food Safety Innovation Conference. The event is something different. It’s an environment where you not only sit and listen to people, but you also interact – breaking up into small groups to talk about what’s actually going on in our factories, finding out if anyone has faced the same situation and if we can learn from that.”

A collaborative effort from Klipspringer and FoodClean, the conference will be returning to the University of Lincoln on Thursday 13th June 2024.

If you would like to reserve your place at next year’s event and access an early-bird discount, simply click the button below.

So that brings us to the end of the second Food Safety Innovation Conference Webinar.

If you have any further questions, you can reach out to Alex at alex.carlyon@klipspringer.com or contact the Klipspringer team on 01473 461800 and sales@klipspringer.com.

You can also connect with Denis at denis@culturecompassltd.com and learn more about Culture Compass at culturecompassltd.co.uk.