BAR NONE, it was the most emotional meeting I had attended in our workplace, and the odd thing was it was about a rather unemotional event that had just transpired. But it was a good result, and any good result about work, to a work visa holder, is on top of the weekly news cycle, to be replayed, reviewed and savored, again and again.
The emotional meeting was an impromptu one conducted by the national food safety manager after a huge effort by the entire team doing remedial measures required by, quite frankly, a pasang-awa (barely passing) food safety audit conducted by a major client, a top supermarket chain with stores all over NZ.
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To put it in perspective, we had been losing clients left and right to the opposition the past 12 months, and this, one of our few remaining institutional clients, controlled roughly half of the retail market, so we were certainly hovering on the precipice the time the boardroom biggies decided to take a closer look at our operations.
If you’re gonna forget everything else about food safety audits, just hold onto these two things: food safety is the paramount consideration in food manufacturing, and everything that goes into and touches the product must be top quality and, almost equally important, traceable. Would you believe we need to produce records not just for product but for packaging? The whole article is sold, and we need to account for every part of it when the you-know-what hits the fan.
Our product is all right, but foreign matter, byproducts from the manufacturing process, and as I mentioned, the packaging itself sometimes taints the pristine nature of the product. The ideal is to get into the consumer’s hands the item as it is produced and manufactured, untouched by human hands.
But that’s just part of the formula. The second thing you have to remember is that image is everything. The wares may be clean but if the conveyors on which they’re transported, the pallets on which they’re piled and the shrink wrap with which they’re packaged aren’t themselves spotless and hygienic, then it just won’t do.
And that’s why everyone, and I mean everyone who drew a pay packet from our employer chipped in that day and grabbed a mop, broom, vacuum cleaner and air hose to bridge the gap between passably clean and industry-standard clean the day the auditors arrived.
Janee, who got special mention during the meeting, did her part by ensuring that paperwork, fumigation and procedures were all followed, and that any traceability as regards product and packaging was provided in case any goods sold didn’t pass muster.
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Remember what I said about the emotional meeting? Right after the decision-makers said we weren’t doing what was needed, that our food safety standards were dodgy, and that failing this audit would be ominous for the site and its workers, the entire work force went beyond the call of duty, went the extra mile and did what was needed to pass the audit.
We hadn’t had a lot of good news for a long time, went through a lot of rough spots recently, and passing the audit, keeping the client, and ensuring ourselves continued production and work was the best news we had in ages.
Long work hours were ahead, and the war to keep our clients needed all our energies, but today’s battle was fought well. The day’s work had been done.
Thanks for reading!
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