Does your traceability system spark joy?

This was the question I asked a team of technical and production people that I had been working with to improve their QMS system and working practices. It was day two of the exercise and I said it smilingly as I scanned over the series of documents spread sequentially over the boardroom table. In true X Factor style ‘it had been a journey’ that consisted of encouraging the team to confidently demonstrate the system, to question areas that they thought were weak and to support, help and train colleagues who were not using the system in the correct way. The output was an updated system with new procedures to test in the business, a checklist that accurately reflected which staff member or deputy provides key information and an internal auditing system focussing on the areas where compliance needs to be improved. The outcome will be a team who is more confident in working together using the new procedures and who is also prepared to explain to an auditor how the system works. Transition is not easy, especially if historically the technical team has always been the one to manage internal audits and not been able to engage fully with all parts of the business to ensure that they are aware of the different customer standards and the consequences of not meeting them. The benefit of training a multidisciplinary team meant that the new procedures were created with advantages for other colleagues further down the line and this information was used to sell the changes to the rest of the business. The second day was intensive and people were tired,... read more

From our own technical correspondent (FOOTC) May 2016

A breakthrough I had whilst catching up with old friends This week I’ve been reflecting on the value of coaching and developing colleagues. I had the pleasure of catching up with an old supplier I used to audit for the Field to Fork standard and a member of a technical team I managed a few years ago. They both are in new roles with different companies and what struck me was how well they had developed into managers over time. I listened whilst the first colleague told me about her new role in logistics that required managing a team of people. She had moved away from the technical side of the business but was keen to ensure that her department was always ‘audit ready’ and she routinely carried out internal audits to get a view of how the department performs. “I tell my team that they would rather get the news about non-conformances from my internal audit than from an external auditor. I learnt that from you” she said. The second colleague told me about the changes he was gradually making in the department, how he gave his staff time to air their concerns to get to root causes of problems and how he had learnt to identify strengths and weaknesses in the team. “It’s all about people management, I always remember my first appraisal from you when you asked me how I wanted to be managed, it’s important to know how people tick” What struck me from both these conversations was that two people who were both technically competent had learned key lessons about people management from these... read more

From our own technical correspondant (FOOTC) – How to start-up a consultancy business

I am the first to admit that running a consultancy business is not for the faint hearted but it has its’ rewards, in fact, consultancy is listed as one of the best ways to build a profitable business from low start-up costs. The disadvantage is that it requires time and the income is not leveraged or consistent. By using these key principles I have been able to establish a business that I enjoy.

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Breakfast week 2016

Breakfast week is with us again and is a really good reminder of why the day should start by literally ‘breaking the fast’.
The brain does function better after a good breakfast, for example, wholegrain containing foods such as porridge and bread and proteins such as eggs, fish or beans.

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From our own technical correspondent (FOOTC) January 2016

BRC Agent and Brokers audit January got off to a flying start with the first audit of the year for one client. Work was started on the BRC Agents and Brokers standard in early 2015 and at the initiation stage of the project we identified that the biggest obstacle would be interpreting what was needed for compliance. The standard is very much a ‘one size fits all’ for agents and brokers across all disciplines and once the HACCP plan and QMS system in place it was a case of identifying the areas that we thought were not applicable! The internal audits helped to plug gaps in the systems that had been missed the first time round and as is the nature of fresh produce businesses, key areas such as a working traceability system and robust supplier approval are a given. Establishing the scope of the audit however, was not as simple as it appeared. The day of the audit came and the time spent discussing and revising the scope stood us in good stead for later on when we tackled the HACCP plan. The BRC definition of ‘agent’, ‘broker’ and ‘importer’ is very clear on the point at which the business takes ownership of the product, especially where product is supplied from a source outside of the U.K but the financial transaction and clearing takes place inside the U.K. Agreement on scope and HACCP with the auditor meant that the rest of the audit went smoothly with very  few non-conformances raised. The whole experience reminded me of the PLAN-DO-CHECK-ACT circle of activity. A great deal of time went into the... read more

The low-down on protein shakes for your children

Protein is essential for children and adolescent’s growth and development, especially of their bones. It is an essential component of their everyday diet, so it is important to make sure they get enough. It is an essential component of their everyday diet, so it is important to make sure they get enough.
So this big question is, do they really need protein shakes, and if they have them are they doing any harm?

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