FoodInnovationSafety and Analysis

Root Cause Analysis-The Ultimate Solution to Food Business Problems

Food businesses can face many problems with the quality of the final product and customer complaints which  can lead to the risk of losing their customers and quality of their products.

Root Cause Analysis (RCA) can be used to determine how and why food safety issues occur, allowing more effective long-term preventative actions to be identified and applied.

Root Cause Analysis helps the food businesses to protect consumers from food safety issues,protects the business reputation, saves revenue by focusing on the resources and also it avoids cost associated with food recalls and withdrawals.

Yes, RCA is more of an investigation project!

This is  how the RCA  tracks down the problem:

5 Whys
  • Higher level causes- it is not directly the cause of the problem but ultimately links up to the cause of the problem
  • First level causes- directly causes the problem
  • Symptoms- signs of existing problems
  • Root cause- the initial cause of either a condition or a causal chain that leads to the problem.

Here are some of the methods of RCA-

1) 5 ‘Whys?’

This method is basically just going about asking questions about the cause of the problem, until no more questions can be asked.

Suppose in a chocolate production line of the company , bars of chocolate containing hazelnuts  have been incorrectly packaged as nut-free chocolates. This can result in a serious health risk for those consumers who are allergic to hazelnuts or other nuts.

Root Cause Analysis
Chocolate made of hazelnuts

So  questions that arise are-

  • Why was the packaging done wrong?

It could be that the packing machine had not been cleared of nut free chocolates on the previous run.

  • Why had the machine not been cleared?

Possibly the operator had not been trained

  • Why was the operator not trained?

There was no requirement of the operator to be trained

  • Why was training not necessary?

An allergen risk assessment had not been conducted so a training requirement had not been identified.

  • Why was allergen risk assessment not conducted?

ROOT CAUSE- Safety risks from allergen were only evaluated on an informal basis and the requirement for formal assessment was not included in the safety operations requirement of the business.

2) Ishikawa Or Fish Bone (Pem Pem)

Root Cause Analysis: Fish Bone Method
Fish Bone Method

As the name suggests the causes of the problem are segregated into –

People- Whether it was the internal staff or the external staff.

Environment- What kind of conditions was the production line performing under? Was it under poor lighting, excessive steam etc.

Method- Work instructions, procedures, specifications

Plant- manufacturing vessels – oven,mixers etc.

Equipment- test devices and ancillary devices

Materials- ingredients,packaging or the product itself

But it seems quite difficult to keep track of thousands of products manufactured everyday in the plant to know the root cause of the problem.

Hence collection of data is important. It can be in the form check sheet and  sampling. This helps to keep record of the resources.

Written By,

Jeslyn Manuvel

Student, NIFTEM

Also, if you have interests in learning the recipe on Vegan Pulled Pork Sandwiches , do check our article.

Vegan Pulled Pork Sandwich: The Easiest Possible Recipe

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