Recently, ASQ Exec Paul Borawski wrote a blog post about third-party inspectors to assure food safety. Paul noted that ASQ supports this sort of process, and asked about the experience of others with third-party inspection.
On the general issue of food safety, I am certainly not a technical expert (although longtime ASQ colleague Steve Wilson sets up overseas seafood inspection systems for a living). But the basic concept of inspection, and the need for this to be in the hands of a third-party, are pretty clear. We all want the food we eat to be safe and healthy for us. We presume that modern science can tell us the appropriate ways to handle food as it gets processed and shipped. Our modern global economy makes more clear than ever, the fact of varying standards around the world. I can remember my first visit to London’s famous food halls at Harrod’s department store, in 1980. Whole sides of beef and pork lay in the open air on marble tables. Not the way we’d see raw fresh meat displayed in American markets.
So nations set standards. Sounds reasonable. But why do we need a third-party to handle inspection? This gets a bit messier. The short answer is that “the road to hell (and food poisoning) is paved with good intentions.” Put another way, people and businesses do not always do exactly what they are supposed to do. Even though a poultry giant like Perdue has their own extensive inspection processes, there are still outside inspectors (USDA) on-site to check the chickens (make up your own joke there).
Although the presence of third-party inspectors clearly adds to the time and cost of production, we make a societal public health decision that this is necessary. From a quality/process improvement perspective, we aim for a process that “does it right the first time.” But from the perspective of the public interest, the checkers will keep on checking for now.
Bruce Waltuck, M.A., Complexity, Chaos, and Creativity
@complexified on Twitter
Oh yeah… I’m part of the ASQ Influential Voices program. While I receive an honorarium from ASQ for my commitment, the thoughts and opinions expressed on my blog are my own.