7 Best Practices in Product Safety Management

Consumer safety in your business should be your top priority. Sadly, some companies allow this standard to slide in the effort to increase their bottom line, resulting in a compromise in consumer safety.

Every country has an agency monitoring consumer safety to protect the public from unreasonable risks of serious injury, health hazards, and even death. The implications of a breach in this area are detrimental to any company. A company’s reputation will be tarnished, trust in the brand will be diminished, and a potential lawsuit may arise with the settlement of damages reaching millions in dollars.

Additionally, it’d be extremely difficult for any company to bounce back from this incident. Many brands have closed their doors permanently due to this. It’s a very unfortunate thing to happen, but what’s difficult to accept is that it could very well be avoidable had they implemented strict measures to counteract such occurrences.

If you’re a business that manufactures food for public consumption, adherence to quality standards to ensure consumer safety is paramount. You have to have food inspection systems in place to ensure your product is safe and free from impurities and pathogens.

Consuming unsafe food can result in a variety of health conditions. One in ten people globally gets sick from consuming unsafe food every year, and about 420,000 die because of it. In the United States, 20.43 million pounds of food got recalled in 2019 because of issues with food safety. The staggering number shows that an increase of focus in this area should be fulfilled by businesses to address the health risks and mortality associated with it.

When taken lightly, consumers can suffer from the following health conditions:

  • Salmonella
  • Listeriosis
  • E. coli
  • Diarrhea
  • Botulism
  • Hepatitis
  • Poisoning

These illnesses are caused by pathogens present in food, but there are a lot of incidents when foreign particles are the reason why the food is unsafe. The presence of unusual items, such as small rocks, metal parts, eggshells, chemicals, hair, plastic, and glass may deem a product unfit for consumption. Consuming this could result in the following:

  • Teeth damage
  • Internal lacerations
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Paralysis
  • Death

To ensure that you steer clear of these incidents, your company should have a set of standard procedures in place as well as best practices to guarantee product safety. For additional insights, you may refer to this list:

1. Comply With Industry Standards

The location of your production facility must comply with industry regulations and standards. Likewise, the layout of your production area must adhere to the safety measures indicated there.

Basic standards, like chemicals and cleaning agents storage, personnel health and hygiene, and usage of appropriate tools and equipment, must all be adhered to.

As a company producing food for the public, including children, you have a moral responsibility to ensure that you’re only delivering food of the highest quality.

2. Identify Potential Risks In Your Facility

Managing a facility should always include assessing potential risks and always forecasting the worst-case scenario. This way, you’re always one step ahead, and you’re preventing a situation from happening even before it does.

You can do this by doing a walk-through consistently to feel the environment and observing with an unbiased eye. Check every section of the facility and take note of everything that could pose a potential risk. If you see something that shouldn’t be there, it’s necessary that you give immediate correcting feedback to whoever is in charge to address the situation in a timely manner.

3. Eliminate Identified Risks

When you flag something that shouldn’t be there, it’s imperative that you see through the changes and ensure that it’s immediately corrected. There’ll be times when behavior is repeatedly committed even if an appropriate action plan has been put in place. Situations like these call for stricter measures. Responsible people must be notified, and this behavior should reflect on their performance appraisals.

Many breaches of standards resulting in unsafe products are mostly because of human error. Employees who don’t give their 100% commitment shouldn’t be given opportunities for promotion, and when their actions appear to be negligent, they should be let go.

4.  Warn Users of Identified Risks

One product safety factor that may be unavoidable is the presence of allergens in the food product. When your production facility processes food with nuts, eggs, and shellfish, other products might be affected even if strict sanitary measures are enforced. You need to warn your consumers about such possibilities. Putting an allergen risk on the label is required.

5. Build Safety In Your Supply Chain

Packaging and delivering your products to consumers may undergo many steps, and with each step, there’s an exposure to risk. To ensure that you can exactly pinpoint the problem should it arise, you need to be able to trace the origin of the risk.

Using automation in this area is critical. Automation efficiently speeds up the process and at the same time increases the traceability of the procedure so you’ll have a more straightforward manner of determining where the problem occurred.

6. Review Customer Feedback

You may be receiving regular feedback about specific concerns from your customers, but having someone dedicated to reviewing this will help you anticipate potential bigger problems that may arise. Some customers might just shrug off a negative incident that happened, like a small rock they bit on, or a piece of plastic they found, and just give you a heads up about it since they don’t want to create a big fuss and give you enough time to address it privately. You need to be able to leverage this kind of feedback before a full-blown one hits you in the face.

7. Have A Product Recall Plan In Place

As mentioned earlier, it’d be best to imagine the worst-case scenario for your business. And, having a product recall plan in place will give you more elbow room to navigate the intricacies of the legal implications of the situation. Giving your customer the best experience even after an unfortunate incident might give you more chances to come back from the bad publicity that’ll ensue

What’s best to remember in this situation is you need to recover the bad experience your customer suffered from. It’s one way of appeasing them and letting them know you’re on top of the situation.

Conclusion

Technology has helped improve product safety over the years.  High-tech equipment and tools are now available for businesses to manage production efficiently and safely so they can manufacture products that are safe and fit for public consumption.

Posted by Dragan Sutevski

Dragan Sutevski is a founder and CEO of Sutevski Consulting, creating business excellence through innovative thinking. Get more from Dragan on Twitter. Contact Dragan