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Effectively Addressing the Core of an Issue with the Root Cause Analysis

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Effectively Addressing the Core of an Issue with the Root Cause Analysis

How do you feel when you just addressed a food safety or food quality issue, only for it to resurface within a short period?  It raises questions about the integrity of your food safety system, the credibility of your food production processes, and even the capability of your food safety and quality team. There are also cost implications aspect to that. Having to fix the same issue over and over without a lasting solution will eat into your food businesses profit, reduce your efficiency and output, reduce your operation run time, and ultimately the affected products already in the market will need to be recalled, leading to waste of resource and incurred cost associated with the recall process.

In a situation where the solution you implemented does not permanently resolve the issue and it keeps reoccurring, only one thing can be true. You are not addressing the root cause of the issue. When a food safety or food quality issue occurs in your food business operation the issue you see is often time a result of a chain reaction of several issues. The core issue that initiates the complete cause-and-effect chain reaction that eventually results in the known problem is the root cause. Finding the root cause of the issue is the only way to permanently solve the problem and prevent its reoccurrence. The systematic process engaged in identifying the underlying cause of any issue is the Root Cause Analysis.

In root cause analysis, you begin by identifying the problem you’re facing. Next, you gather data about the issue, considering factors like when and where it occurred and who was involved. Then, you analyze the data, searching for patterns and trends to pinpoint potential causes. Using techniques like the “5 Whys” method, you dig deeper to uncover the root causes behind the problem. Once you’ve identified these root causes, you brainstorm solutions. After selecting the best solutions, you implement them to prevent the problem from happening again. Finally, you continuously monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of your implemented solutions, making adjustments as needed to ensure long-term improvement. Root cause analysis is a valuable tool used across various fields to enhance processes and prevent recurring issues.

Choosing the Right Tool to Investigate an Issue

In root cause analysis, choosing the right tool is crucial as it directly impacts the effectiveness and accuracy of your investigation process, influencing the quality of the identified root cause and subsequent corrective actions. Each problem you encounter presents unique complexities and factors, requiring different analytical approaches or methodologies to thoroughly dissect the issue and unveil its underlying causes. Therefore, selecting the right tool ensures that your investigation is tailored to the specific characteristics of the problem at hand, enabling you to gain a comprehensive understanding of the root cause and facilitating the development of targeted solutions to prevent recurrence and drive continuous improvement initiatives.

Who Should be Involved in Conducting a Root Cause Analysis?

In a food business operation, a root cause analysis is typically carried out by a cross-functional team comprising stakeholders such as the Quality Assurance or Food Safety Manager, Production Manager, operations personnel, maintenance team, and more importantly external experts (a food quality and safety consultant). Together, they investigate issues related to production processes, equipment malfunction, human error, and operational challenges to identify underlying factors contributing to food safety incidents or deviations from standards, ultimately aiming to implement corrective actions to prevent recurrence and ensure product safety and quality.

An external expert, such as a food safety and quality consultant can view things differently and think outside the box where everyone else has not been thinking. Investing in inviting an external expert to conduct or be part of your root cause analysis team is a valuable investment. Fresh Group can strengthen your root cause analysis team with our expertise and years of experience that we have gained by conducting root cause analysis across different food facilities.

Book a consultation with us to talk about how we can partner with your food business to conduct a robust root-cause analysis.