Will Food Scares Be Yesterday’s News?

Groups hopeful new food safety legislation makes a difference

Food recalls across the United States seemed to be everyday news last year. Eggs, beef, tuna, lettuce and alfalfa sprouts—just to name a few—were all recalled at one time or another for a variety of reasons.

This year, lawmakers hope new legislation will eventually make food recalls rare news events. Four days into 2011, President Obama signed the Food Safety Modernization Act into law, marking the first overhaul of the U.S. food safety infrastructure in nearly 75 years.

"It is a major step toward improving how the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) protects people from preventable illnesses that sicken millions and kill thousands of Americans every year," said Erik Olson, the Pew Health Group’s director of food and consumer product safety.

The new law works to improve food safety through six means: mandatory recalls; focus on the biggest risks; mandatory inspections; access to records; more control over imports; and preventive controls.

The legislation gives the FDA the authority to issue its own recalls of contaminated products, along with increased access to manufacturer records in the case of emergencies.

 "It shifts the paradigm," said Bill Hubbard, a former FDA associate commissioner. In the past, the FDA has played the role of police officer, only tracking down trouble when problems arose. The new law creates "a new system in which government and food processors work together to keep contamination from ever occurring in the first place," Hubbard said.

John Surak, an ASQ fellow and a food safety expert, said it’s estimated the FDA will take up to three years to fully implement all of the act’s provisions.

"Food professionals need to keep vigilant on the actual details of the Food Safety Modernization Act and how the FDA will interpret the act and promulgate the new regulations," Surak said.

Third-party oversight

The legislation will also allow third-party testing to ensure FDA-regulated products meet the standards set by the agency. ASQ, through the ASQ-ANSI National Accreditation Board, has been active in educating legislators and FDA officials of the importance of accredited third-party conformity assessment with oversight.

ASQ, through its Public Policy Advisory Committee (PPAC), and ANSI-ASQ National Accreditation Board will continue to work with Congress through the appropriations process, making certain the already established international standards are recognized as the regulations through which the new law will be enforced. 

"To have a truly effective food safety system in the United States, we must have a level of oversight that works in partnership and supports the role of the FDA to provide confidence in the entire lifecycle of the product," said Keith Greenaway, vice president of ACLASS and a PPAC member. ACLASS is one of two brands of the ANSI-ASQ National Accreditation Board.

According to Greenaway, the best way to achieve this type of system is through accredited third-party conformity assessment services with oversight through which "an independent party verifies and provides written assurance of conformance to internationally recognized standards."

This type of third-party provider includes laboratories, inspection bodies, management systems certification bodies, product certification bodies and personnel certification bodies.

Accredited third-party conformity assessment is founded on international standards and focuses on building and operating well-defined and repeatable processes, and ensuring accurate and reliable test results.

For more information

Watch for updates on PPAC’s efforts related to the food safety measures at ASQ’s Advocacy Room at http://asq.org/advocacy/issues-actions/20100519-food-safety-bill-changes.html?WT.dcsvid=NTY0MDE2MDExS0&WT.mc_id=EM6136M.



General Motors to Explore Linking Pay to Quality

General Motors (GM) said last month it will look for ways to tie factory and office-worker pay to quality measures.

"I want to make sure we pay people for superior results. Period," Mark Reuss, the North American president of the automaker said at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

"When we’re not performing, I’m not going to be paid out, and neither is anyone else," he said.

Without being specific, Reuss said GM is exploring how to reward salaried and hourly workers based on quality levels at their plants.

The president of a local United Auto Workers (UAW) section in Flint, MI, said he didn’t think the idea of shared profits tied to quality improvements was bad.

But GM doesn’t have a great track record for the fairness of such programs, including its profit-sharing programs of past years, said Brian Kosbar, president of UAW Local 1292.

"My first thought was that profit-sharing hasn’t worked out that well for General Motors," Kosbar said. "Chrysler and Ford workers did a whole lot better" with that type program.

"It seemed like there was always some issue why we weren’t making a profit," he said.



Ford, Honda Move Past Toyota in Quality Survey

Toyota’s massive recalls during the last 18 months seem to have tarnished its reputation as a quality leader, allowing Honda and Ford to surpass it in consumer quality perceptions, according to Consumer Reports’ 2011 Car Brand Perception Survey released last month.

Honda ranked first in the survey, with 25% of its car owners naming it as the manufacturer with the best quality in the report. Ford was second at 23% and Toyota was third at 19%—11 percentage points lower that its mark last year.

In the survey, Toyota scored the highest in overall brand perception—a ranking that combines scores on safety, quality, value, performance, environmental friendliness, design/style and technology/innovation. Toyota scored 147 points, while Ford finished second at 144 points.

For more on the survey, visit www.consumerreports.org/cro/cars/new-cars/news/2011/01/2011-car-brand-perception-survey/overview/index.htm.



Survey Reports Managers Upbeat About U.S. Economy

Senior managers at U.S. manufacturing companies said they believe the U.S. economy will improve in the first half of this year, according to a recent survey.

Grant Thornton LLP, an accounting and consulting firm, also reported that 49% of senior managers said they plan to increase staff during the same period, and 81% said they felt optimistic about their companies’ growth over the next six months.

"Despite reduced staffing levels and stricter customer mandates, manufacturers have improved their performance over the past three years in areas such as production cycle time, on-time delivery rate, scrap and rework, quality and warranty costs," said Wally Gruenes, Grant Thornton’s national managing partner for consumer and industrial products.

To see all the survey findings, visit www.grantthornton.com/boi.


Consumption of Manufacturing Technology Experiences Surge

Manufacturing technology consumption in the United States increased 82.7% year to date in November 2010 compared with the previous year, a sign of a rebounding U.S. manufacturing sector, according to two industry organizations.

"Confidence in 2011 is growing, and purchases are being made despite the capacity rates being below the threshold when this normally occurs," said Peter Borden, president of the American Machine Tool Distributors’ Association, which contributed to the report with the Association for Manufacturing Technology.

Companies that participated in the survey—released last month—said they spent $318 million on manufacturing technology in November 2010. That’s up 81.1% from November 2009’s $175 million total.

For more details from the report, visit www.usmtc.com/news.aspx and click on "Latest Press Release."


Tweets of Strength

The social media site Twitter (www.twitter.com) has become another way of obtaining and sharing information. Twitter allows users to send and post short messages (there’s a 140-character limit) and link to news articles, photos or websites. Here are a few quality-related professionals and organizations that QP editors follow because of the interesting links and insightful commentary:

  • @auditguy: Dennis Arter, expert on management system auditing.
  • @business901: Jamie Flinchbaugh, cofounder and partner of the Lean Learning Center.
  • @FoodSafetyNews: Daily reporting of food safety matters.
  • @isostandards: Official account of the International Organization for Standardization.
  • @jack_welch: Former General Electric chairman and CEO.
  • @LeanBlog: Mark Graban, a lean healthcare consultant, blogger, speaker and author.
  • @PhilMcCreight: Learning and performance student and teacher.
  • @SupplyChainBlog: News and research from the Supply Chain Today website.
  • @TimALeanJourney: Tim McMahon, a lean practitioner.

Follow QP editors—@ASQ_Seiche, @ASQ_Mark, @ASQ_Brett and @ASQ_Nicole—and read their tweets on quality-related matters, business news and other observations. Send us your recommendations on quality-focused people and groups worth following. Find QP editors via the Twitter website or e-mail editor@asq.org.



The number of ASQ members awarded fellow status by the ASQ Board of Directors late last year. The 2010 fellows are:

  • David E. Brown, SSP Fittings Corp., Twinsburg, OH.
  • M.M. Christensen, TQM Systems, Baton Rouge, LA.
  • Gordon Clark, Clark Solutions Inc., Worthington, OH.
  • Olga Delvecchio, Hamilton, Ontario.
  • Stephen Kearny Hacker, Transformation Systems International LLC, Portland, OR.
  • Deborah L. Hopen, Deborah Hopen Associates Inc., Federal Way, WA.
  • Eugene D. Kirsch, Booz Allen Hamilton, Rockville, MD.
  • Lou Ann Lathrop, Computer Engineering Services at Chrysler Group LLC, Auburn Hills, MI.
  • Johannes Ledolter, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA.
  • Jeanenne Marhevko, SPX Test & Measurement, Canton, MI.
  • Robert E. Meyer, UNIVAC, Division of Sperry Rand, St. Paul, MN.
  • Todd Minnick, Luminex Corp., Austin, TX.
  • Robert J. Scanlon, Transportation Security Administration, Arlington, VA.
  • Robert K. Smith, Bechtel BWXT Idaho LLC, Idaho Falls, ID.
  • Teresa A. Whitacre, Marketech Systems, Latrobe, PA.

For more information on the new fellows, visit www.asq.org/media-room/press-releases/2011/20110106-fellow-status-15-members.html.

ASQ Founding Member Dies

E.B. Godsey, a founding and senior member of ASQ and one of ASQ’s first certified quality engineers, has died. He was 90.

Godsey was first introduced to the quality profession during his time at Remington Arms in Bridgeport, CT.

Later, he worked in quality control roles at Corning Glass Works in Corning, NY; Collins Radio in Cedar Rapids, IA; and Rockwell International in Dallas. Godsey also held several part-time teaching positions in industrial and collegiate settings throughout his career.

Godsey was an active ASQ member at the local, regional and national levels for 63 years. Services were held last month in Dallas.


World Conference Keynote Speakers Announced

An admiral appointed by the president to oversee oil spill clean-up efforts in the Gulf of Mexico. A steel company executive knighted by the queen of England for his work in advancing Indo-British trade relations. A "D" student who couldn’t hold a job until she took out a small loan and built her own $5 billion real estate business.

Three unique individuals with different stories to tell and messages to convey will deliver keynote addresses at ASQ’s World Conference on Quality and Improvement (WCQI) in Pittsburgh, May 16-18.

Much of the WCQI content seeks to reexamine the role quality can play in the face of today’s challenges and the global impact of quality, organizers said.

The three keynote speakers, who were chosen, in part, to reflect the shifting role of quality in the world, are:

Retired Adm. Thad Allen of the U.S. Coast Guard, who served as the national incident commander for the unified response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Allen was in charge of oversight efforts to stop the flow of oil and mitigate the effects of the worst oil disaster in U.S. history. Previously, Allen was involved in response efforts to the 9/11 terrorist attacks and was the principal federal official for the response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Allen is scheduled to speak at 7:45 a.m. Monday, May 16.

J.J. Irani, who worked for Tata Steel, headquartered in Mumbai, India, for 33 years. Irani held many positions during his tenure with one of the world’s largest steel manufacturers, including general superintendent, general manager, president and managing director and CEO. In 1997, Queen Elizabeth II conferred on him an honorary knighthood for his contributions to Indo-British trade and cooperation. Irani, also honored by the president of India for his work in trade and industry, is scheduled to speak at 8 a.m. Tuesday, May 17.

Barbara Corcoran, who got straight Ds in high school and college, and worked 20 jobs before she was 23. After taking out a $1,000 loan, she started the Corcoran Group, which has become one of the largest residential real estate firms in New York City. She sold the business 10 years ago for $70 million. Corcoran is an NBC commentator on the real estate market and has written three books, including the best-seller Use What You’ve Got. She is scheduled to speak at 1:15 p.m. Tuesday, May 17.

Visit http://wcqi.asq.org/index.html for more on the keynote speakers, the 100-plus conference sessions, a complete schedule of events and details on the four other mini conferences sponsored by different ASQ divisions that will take place concurrently with WCQI.

ASQ News

NEW ENTERPRISE MEMBERS Five organizations have joined ASQ as enterprise members. Deere and Co., 3M, Kohler Co., Dow Chemical and National Thermal Power Corp. Ltd. join 32 other organizations at this membership level. Visit www.asq.org/membership/organizations/enterprise.html for more information about enterprise memberships.

INSTRUCTOR VALIDATION The ASQ Learning Institute has introduced a validation process to provide standards and evaluation criteria for instructors. Competencies were developed using field-based research that included literature reviews, surveys, focus groups and reviews by experts. The instructor validation process, which is voluntary, is designed to provide the global quality community with a reliable, consistent source of quality instruction. For more information, contact Susan Westergard at swestergard@asq.org.

GREEN ENERGY ASQ’s Energy and Environmental Division will host an exhibit at the Green Energy Summit in Milwaukee next month. For more information about the conference, visit http://greenenergysummit.us.

DIVISION CONFERENCE ASQ’s Quality Management Division will host its annual conference in Orlando next month. For more information and registration details, visit http://asq.org/conferences/quality-management/index.html.


QP looks back on a person or event that made a difference in the history of quality.

Feb. 16, 1946

The American Society for Quality Control is formed on this date by 253 members of 17 quality-related societies. George Edwards, director of quality assurance at Bell Telephone Labs, was elected president.

ASQ (the organization eliminated "control" from its name in 1997) has since been at the forefront of the quality movement for 65 years. While the society was initially focused on manufacturing, ASQ has in more recent years also established itself as a champion of quality in the service sector, healthcare, education and government.

ASQ has expanded to more than 150 countries and has more than 80,000 individual members.

ASQ commemorations

Watch for different features and activities ASQ is planning to celebrate the 65th anniversary throughout the year.

QP, too, will look back each month at ASQ’s history in the Keeping Current section. In addition, QP will spotlight classic content online.

This month, however, the entire first edition of QP—published in January 1968—can be found in PDF format at www.qualityprogress.com.

Send us suggestions on previous QP articles, columns or authors you’d like us to highlight in the coming months by e-mailing editor@asq.org.


Quick Poll Results

Each month at www.qualityprogress.com, visitors can take an informal survey, and we post the results.

Here are the numbers from a recent Quick Poll:

"What’s the best way to get the most out of employees?"

  • Training and other learning opportunities 54.2%
  • Autonomy in the workplace 20.2%
  • Higher salaries, bonuses and benefits 19.8%
  • Promotions 5.7%

Visit www.qualityprogress.com for the most recent poll question:

"Which quality influenced legislation passed in 2010 will have the greatest impact?"

  • Financial reform
  • Food safety improvements
  • Healthcare reform


A NEW STANDARD to help organizations make decisions about their brands has been issued by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). The standard, ISO 10668:2010, Brand valuation—Requirements for monetary brand valuation, outlines consistent and transparent procedures and methods for measuring how much a brand is worth. For more information, visit www.iso.org/iso/catalogue_detail.htm?csnumber=46032.

THE ANSI-ASQ NATIONAL Accreditation Board is seeking applications for accreditation for the Voluntary Private Sector Preparedness Certification (PS-Prep) program. The PS-Prep program is a partnership between the Department of Homeland Security and the private sector that followed a recommendation by the 9/11 Commission to improve private sector preparedness for disasters and emergencies. For more information, visit www.anab.org/accreditation/preparedness.aspx.

THE ORGANIZERS OF THE International Conference on Quality and Service Sciences have issued a call for papers for next year’s event in Barcelona, Spain. Deadline for abstracts is March 15. For more information and to learn about the conference’s areas of interest, visit www.ism.lu.se/index.php?id=593.

THIS YEAR’S ENGINEERS Week will be held Feb. 20–26, with design competitions and ceremonies in Washington, D.C. For more information, visit the National Engineers Week Foundation at www.eweek.org/newsstory.aspx?contentid=215.

THE CONFEDERATION OF INDIAN Industries (CII) has recognized Reliance Industries Ltd.’s (RIL) Hazira manufacturing site with the Excellent Energy Efficient Unit Award. This is the 10th time RIL has received the award, which is based on an organization’s energy conservation performance. CII evaluated 108 organizations that applied for the honor.

THE INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATION for Standardization has released a new standard to address the quality of nonformal education and training, such as vocational training, lifelong learning and in-company training. ISO 29990:2010— Learning services for nonformal education and training—Basic requirements for service providers, provides a generic model for quality professional practice and performance, and a common reference for learning service providers and their clients. For more information about the standard, visit www.iso.org/iso/pressrelease.htm?refid=Ref1384.

Who’s Who in Q

NAME: John Lee.


EDUCATION: MBA from the University of Phoenix.

INTRODUCTION TO QUALITY: While working as a mechanical engineering student, Lee ran a design of experiments, which answered questions about interactions that his reading material didn’t seem to totally address.

CURRENT JOB: President of Alpha Quality Consulting and Alpha Training and Consulting.

PREVIOUS EXPERIENCE: Lee has worked as a design engineer, R&D engineer, manufacturing engineer and plant manager.

ASQ ACTIVITIES: Lee prepares about 500 students each year around the world for ASQ certifications.

OTHER ACTIVITIES: Motivational speaker on "the nature of human nature."

PUBLISHED WORKS: Hundreds of hours of online training materials covering quality concepts. Lee also self-published a small booklet, The Nature of Dynamic Weight Transfer. He is finishing Rising Above it All, a book about the nature of organizational transformation.

RECENT HONOR: Recognized as one of 11 ASQ members who hold 14 of 18 ASQ certifications.

FAMILY: Wife, Rita, and four children: Craig, 21; Chad, 19; Brian, 16; and Jason, 14.

FAVORITE WAYS TO RELAX: Racing stock cars, sky diving, skiing and camping.

QUALITY QUOTE: You will never become great if you don’t find within yourself the desire to serve others.

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