Food Safety and Quality Assurance (FSQA) professionals are the gatekeepers for incoming inventory at food and supplement processing plants. These crucial employees reduce risk by ensuring out-of-spec raw materials, items, or ingredients never reach the production floor. Although each company varies on what it considers a world-class food safety and quality professional, top performers share five common traits.
1. Exacting Attention to Detail
FSQA professionals live for the details. They ensure exactness for all regulatory requirements - from the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) to Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) to the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) to Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs), and more. Beyond specific regulatory reporting, FSQA pros monitor incoming inventory, specifications, food safety plans, and corrective action strategies, to name a few. The best FSQA employees recognize and acknowledge the importance of accuracy to ensure they get it right.
2. Drive Collaboration and Communication
Food Safety and Quality Assurance is in a unique position to offer significant insight to other departments regarding the quality of ingredients, products, and suppliers. Team members actively assist other departments in commercializing new and existing products, including auditing and qualifying new potential co-packers, developing specifications, and reviewing documentation. FSQA members must communicate with suppliers to ensure that the desired ingredients – with the required specifications – reach the plant on time.
3. Brand Ambassadors
FSQA professionals may not consider themselves brand champions, but brand reputation and image rely on food quality leadership. With more product choices flooding the market, one bad experience can lose a previously loyal customer and damage a brand. FSQA ensures the consistency and quality of products, which is crucial for growing and protecting a brand. Top FSQA team members work proactively with Consumer Relations to achieve key performance indicators, track complaint data, and develop corrective action plans with assigned co-packers and manufacturing facilities for quality improvement initiatives.
4. Embrace Innovation
For safety and quality assurance to be effective, it's crucial to embrace innovation. FSQA must embrace innovation to improve processes and overall productivity. Innovation comes in many forms; it can be as simple as updating a process or procedure to eliminate outdated steps, or as complicated as coordinating a new certification.
5. Work Behind the Scenes
Some roles are flashy - R&D gets accolades for developing a new hit product, and Sales receives recognition for each successful quarter. FSQA rarely receives compliments, but in reality, the department is the company's backbone. FSQA makes sure that R&D's new product is safe for customers, allowing it to go on to be a hit and drive sales. Unfortunately, FSQA tends only to get the spotlight when something goes wrong. Yet, FSQA pros continue to strive for higher quality and better food safety measures, without expecting to be revered for their contributions. They do it because they love it, and know that even unsung heroes still wear capes.
The best FSQA professionals know when they need assistance - TraceGains has built a robust suite of products that automates and streamlines regulatory compliance and plant floor quality with a single networked platform. TraceGains brings departments together for better collaboration so FSQA leaders can make a more significant impact.
TraceGains helps FSQA by comparing all data against set requirements to spot out-of-compliance materials before they arrive at the plant. But don't take our word for it, there's what the team at Chelsea Milling had to say about working with TraceGains.
"We saw a 75% reduction in out-of-spec lots on the receiving dock following our TraceGains implementation. We can now analyze COAs before shipments arrive, rejecting out-of-spec lots before they reach they leave the shipping dock, saving us time and money."
Want to learn more? Download our "FSQA Cookbook" eBook for guidance on how to strengthen your QA team.