Readers Give Food for Thought

In January the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued guidelines to ensure the nation's food supply is safe from bioterrorist attacks. Yet even before anthrax in the mail caused anxiety over everything we touch or ingest, we had problems with our food. In "On Today's Menu: Quality" (p. 25), a sidebar lists recent food safety incidents. The good news in the article is the FDA's response, including hazard analysis and critical control points programs.

Another feature, "Mooooving Toward Six Sigma" (p. 34), describes how researchers are using Six Sigma to improve the safety of formulating rations and to reduce potentially harmful nutrient waste on a dairy farm.

Mooooving? I realize many QP readers may not be accustomed to reading pun-filled headlines or seeing a cow on the cover. The QP team decided to have a little fun this month based in part on reader feedback that the magazine--and the quality profession, for that matter--sometimes takes itself too seriously.

Even if you disagree, I hope you can appreciate that we always welcome your input and use it to guide us in continuously improving the magazine. For example, a few months ago we conducted a reader survey of ASQ members. We will be sharing more details about the responses--and any ensuing changes we plan to implement--in coming months. Meanwhile, here's a taste (sorry, that's the last of the puns) of what your fellow readers are telling us:

  • Most of you--92%--save your issues of QP for future reference.
  • A high percentage--83--say the technical level of the magazine's content is appropriate for your level of expertise.
  • More than half--57%--say you use information from the magazine to improve your own or your organization's performance. Verbatim comments about how you use the information filled 11 pages.
  • The most common ways you use the information are to keep current on trends in the quality field (88%), learn about areas of quality that are new or unfamiliar (72%) and as "how to" information to use on the job (65%).
  • Departments and columns of highest value include "Keeping Current," "Frontiers of Quality," "Back to Basics," "One Good Idea" and "QP Toolbox."
  • Article topics of highest value include continuous and process improvement, best practices, customer satisfaction and selling quality to top management. (If you chose that last topic, watch for the April issue.)

Thank you to everyone who took the time to respond. To all readers, you can give feedback on each issue via our monthly survey at www.asq.org/pub/qualityprogress/survey/. Or this month, see the form on p. 74, where you can also share your thoughts on aviation security. And as always, you can write to editor@asq.org.

Debbie Phillips-Donaldson

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