Quality Ingredients

What you get depends on what you put in

Inconveniently, being a lifelong Midwesterner, one of my favorite culinary indulgences is oysters. These tiny delicacies can brighten even the bleakest day. I like to hear the server’s description of each variety, and then choose an assortment. Lately, my choices are more limited. Gulf of Mexico oysters are no longer on the menu for me—for the moment, at least.

I’m not alone. As Gulf fishing resumes, many question marks remain about the long-term effects of the spill. A recent Time article, "Human Health Impact of Oil Spill Still Largely Unknown" (www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,2010953,00.html), explains the challenges in understanding these long-term consequences.

"The problem is that there has been shockingly little study done on the health impacts of previous oil spills," the article asserts. "As the spill winds down, what’s really needed now are major studies that can give us firm answers on what health impacts the spill is, or isn’t, having."

Testing and inspections continue in an effort to ensure the safety of Gulf catches, but that can only go so far. Perception will continue to be a huge obstacle for the Gulf region, long after seafood is deemed safe.

"We have a huge perception problem," said Ewell Smith, director of the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board in an Aug. 11 Quality News Today article, "Seafood Faces Doubts in Spill Aftermath." "We have lost markets across the country, and some of them may be lost for good," he added.

Similar to how environmental contaminants might affect the food supply, the components of a product affect its overall quality. Knowing where products come from—whether it’s seafood or raw manufacturing materials—provides a clearer picture of product quality. Manufacturers need to be fully aware of who their suppliers are and what they’re supplying. That is the topic covered in "Handle With Care," which sheds light on the importance of well-managed supply chains.

This month, QP also tackles the topics of lean and Six Sigma. In "Taking the Reins," the author describes how Textron, a Fortune 300 manufacturer, successfully deployed lean Six Sigma throughout its diverse business units, then moved that control back to those business units, allowing them to choose the projects, players and timelines they believed would yield maximum results. Theirs is a success story about a relatively novel deployment approach.

In "Keep It Simple," author Adil F. Dalal explains why remembering lean’s tenets can help make its use more powerful. "If my executive, practitioner or consultant develops an understanding of the three inherent principles of lean … the probability of success will be significantly greater, regardless of the type of corporation, culture and industry," he writes.

Seiche Sanders

Seiche Sanders

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