By Ole Dosland

Having worked in the food industry for 40+ years, I’ve said things that have had positive impacts on quality assurance and food safety. Each is a story itself, but the idea behind each provides a practical solution. These are some of my more successful sayings said through the years.

  • “Loose specifications tightly enforced are better than tight specifications loosely enforced.” It is better to establish product uniformity around a desired target, than to just conform to a specification. Be aware that operating at a control limit will become a new target.
  • “When in doubt, throw it out.” Mistakes will happen, what was learned? Learn from an incident but don’t take chances with bad product. Be consistent with substandard product disposition.
  • “Quality is the personal responsibility of every manager, supervisor, and employee of this company. It is our future—Your future.” Quality can lead to profit and should not be considered a burden on manufacturing. Quality is a means of improving profit by non-quality reduction.
  • “Provide a place for everything; keep everything in its place.” Don’t waste time looking for things. This works well in laboratories and cleaning stations, but requires that contents be identified.
  • “A hair restraint is not all about restraining hair; it’s about the mindset beneath.”
  • GMPs require a good mindset. Putting on a hair restraint is a refresher of what they are all about; compliance is shown with how hair nets are worn.
  • “Cause and effect is a powerful problem-solving technique.”
  • Analyzing a problem through materials, machine, manpower, methods, evaluation, and environment can identify the root cause of a problem. It is an excellent tool to improve quality and food safety.
  • “Planning, preparation, and practice prevent a pitiful performance.” When facing a presentation, speech, debate, or meeting discussion, develop a plan, prepare, and practice your approach.
  • “A culture change is a challenge.” The altitude of quality depends on the attitude at the top of the organization. Cultures, good or bad, are the result of beliefs and habits over time. Some cultures are more engrained and they are more of a challenge to change.
  • “Where are we now? Where do we want to be? How do we get there?” When the going gets tough, an opportunity may arise for the start of a strategic plan. Ask these questions at the right time and you will be on the road to a long-term fix.
  • “Quality can be defined in six words: Meet requirements and exceed customer expectations.” Quality can be complex, yet simple. Focus on this short powerful definition for simple quality.
  • “Every plant has a hidden plant producing 100% defective product.” How big is your hidden plant? Do you know the costs associated with defective product: cost to make, find, recall, rework, and handle complaints/liability? Identify these to justify a ROI improvement.
  • “Insects respond to different temperatures differently, most active around 80°F-85°F.” Insect development slows below 70°F and stops below 60°F. Use this science to extend product shelf life and prevent insect problems by keeping foods below temperature enabling insect activity and development.
  • “The presence of flies is a symptom that something is not right with exclusion and sanitation.” If there is poor airflow, you may see flies around finished product. One fly in the packing area is one fly too many and is a time for immediate investigation and corrective action.
  • “Cleaning should start in less than a minute.” If you have time to lean, you have time to clean. This requires well-stocked cleaning stations strategically located throughout a plant.
  • “Good sanitary design does not cost much more if it is built into the plant.” Engineering for food safety must be built into the building and processes; sanitary design should be a part of the specifications. Retrofitting costs more.
  • “We hear 50% of what is said. We understand 50% of what we hear. We believe 50% of what we understand. We retain 50% of what we believe. Thus 6% of what is said will be retained.” Telling is not a good way to learn. Students should validate in some form what they understand.
  • “Good is not cheap; cheap is not good; and free might be worse.” As the Victorian Art Critic John Ruskin said: “It’s unwise to pay too much, but it’s worse to pay too little. When you pay too little, you might lose everything because the thing you bought was incapable of doing the thing it was bought to do.”
  • “Quality must not be compromised; and it improves with a team effort and an open exchange of ideas.”

Ole Dosland is the QA & Food Safety Consultant and Trainer, DOZ Enterprises