Quality is a principle that encourages excellence in everything in a business, from your individual products to the business processes you use to deal with suppliers, customers, distributors and consumers.
Having a food safety program in place is the first step to quality for a food business. Food safety programs use quality systems to ensure safety by defining goals, measuring, monitoring, checking, evaluating and modifying in a systematic cycle. This is further supported by seeking to apply quality management practices to all aspects of your business.
Just as important as attaining quality, is the maintenance of quality. Quality assumes consistency in the delivery of that excellence. It is possible to produce a product that is excellent once by chance but true quality is about doing it every time.
Australia has a reputation for supplying clean and natural products with low chemical residues. Quality and safety are paramount values of our produce’s national brand and the enforcement of strict safety standards and regulations is a vital part of protecting that reputation.
You ensure quality by putting in systems that monitor your whole-of-business methods and using those results to manage consistent results over time.
ISO 9000 is the internationally recognised standard for quality management systems. This is a quality management standard that, if attained, means the business is meeting:
the customer’s quality requirements, and applicable regulatory requirements, while aiming to enhance customer satisfaction, and achieve continual improvement of its performance in pursuit of these objectives.
In some sectors, compliance with key standards such as ISO 9000 are becoming essential criteria for doing business with certain customers, however a business may choose to implement the ISO 9000 standards but not necessarily go through the certification process straight away. You can use the principles to assist them in running a quality business while taking time to assess the needs of their customers and whether formally completing certification will add value for them.
Whether you seek formal certification or not, the documentation of systems and standards is very important. Documentation gives you a basis for continuous improvement. It also facilitates the management of your business by other people as you grow, or when you sell. Apart from these benefits, it might be very helpful in establishing your practice if there is ever a problem with your products that results in legal action.
Some industry sectors have developed their own definition and measure of quality in their industry. These quality guarantees offer the brands and products associated with them with an important point of difference from their competition.
Nationally the beef, lamb and sheep meat industries have cooperated to develop an eating quality program, Meat Standards Australia™ (MSA). It labels beef, lamb and sheep meat with a guaranteed grade, ensures full traceability and assists consumers with recommended cooking methods to promote eating quality in accordance with consumer perceptions.
Similarly the Australian Egg Corporation has established Australian Egg Corporation, a national egg quality assurance program. The Egg Corp Assured quality assurance program addresses issues including food safety, biosecurity, animal welfare, egg labelling and environmental sustainability. These programs must be audited by a registered third party auditor.
SA Health Safety and Quality Program is committed to ensuring a quality, safe and accessible health care system for all South Australians.
Safely on the shelf
The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry has undertaken an analysis of global food retailers’ safety and quality requirements, exploring implications for Australia’s food exporters.