Someone told me that you need to do something that scares you every day. While I understand the logic, I like to believe that you need to surround yourself with people who challenge you every day.
Working in an industry that some may describe as being slow to change can be challenging at times. However, my experience has been that Quality Managers, Process Engineers, and farmers have an innate drive to make improvements. They seek to develop the industry to improve safer and more innovative products. Even better than that, they also influence the people around them to make improvements.
The reality is that I am influenced by the people who surround me. I strive to keep positive and progressive minds and experts around me. I find that it improves my work as I also need to carve out better solutions. In a broader sense, having a progressive mindset leads to improvement and quality of life. Why wouldn’t anyone want to improve their performance and overall wellbeing?
Working on sampling in the dairy and liquid food industry can sometimes be challenging. In-process sampling is still somewhat undefined. There are no overarching in-process sampling plans, let alone sample data maps from production to processing to reference. One of the closest universal references for a systematic preventative approach to food safety is the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP). Improving on that concept is the Sample HACCP (SHACCP), which applies this tool that maps out the risk areas of a typical process flow from taking the sample to sample reception in the laboratory.
The Quality managers, engineers, and farmers I work with have been very aware of this missing risk assessment area. Thus, they are developing their own sets of sample collection standards. Going beyond the question of “Is this sample right or wrong,” they are now more confident and accurate in their process verification and product quality. By not waiting to solve an issue or respond to a worst-case scenario, they bring in systems that prevent risks, optimize their process, and strengthen quality. These adopted practices are proactive rather than reactive.
There are areas where in-process sampling has been an entirely foreign topic, let alone the need for aseptic sampling. Some of our partners are carving out a new conversation and quality culture for sampling. These are conversations about how you use data to track your process or monitor product quality over time. In many cases, there are no systems set up to trend this type of analysis. It takes the extra step of developing new procedures or standards to get to that level.
Farmers and veterinarians improve herd health, nutrition or sanitation practices by integrating representative sampling into their daily or weekly rhythm despite no government requirement. They are looking to continually improve the quality of their herds’ milk and health by integrating acceptable practices and assessments of somatic cells, hygiene, butterfat, or other nutrition indicators overtime to make constant improvement. This is done out of their drive for improvements.
I am proud to be a part of a community that challenges the ‘status quo’ in food safety through sound practices and proven systems. It not only makes work more rewarding, but it also makes me more confident in the food we choose to eat.