Jim Kline: Alphabet Soup
Companies must understand what the acronyms and abbreviations stand for to best benefit from the regulatory and industry standards they set forth.
BakingBusiness.com, May 1, 2010
by Jim Kline

On a daily basis, we are confronted with an alphabet soup of acronyms and abbreviations coming from regulatory policy, industry standards and experts in the world of business and industry. There are OSHA, Five S, Six Sigma, IPM, HACCP, BISSC, ANSI, ISO 9000 … to name a few. But do you really know and understand them or make the best use of them?

Soup provides a good analogy because each has different attributes. Each provides guidance and influences how we do our jobs and manage our responsibilities.

INSIDE THE ACRONYMS.

The following is a quick run down of the alphabet soup setting forth regulations and guidelines for members of the baking and snack industry.

OSHA is the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, an agency of the US Department of Labor. It sets and enforces protective workplace health and safety regulations. It is the law and the foundation for safety and health standards within the US and many other countries.

American National Standards Institute (ANSI) does not constitute a standard by itself; however, it accredits and oversees the creation of standards by others. ANSI audits and reviews the processes used by others to create and update relevant standards. The process of writing and maintaining a standard is overseen by ANSI; the content is contributed by the experts on the subject.

Five S is derived from Kaizen, which means “improvement” in Japanese and is a philosophy that focuses upon continuous improvement of processes in manufacturing, engineering and management. The five concepts of Kaizen begin with the letter S, thus Five S. In translation, they are “creating order,” “organization,” “cleaning and housekeeping,” “standardization” and “embracing these practices in all work activities.” The approach focuses on efficiency, quality, service and safety.

Six Sigma is a business management strategy built around the assertion that, by identifying and removing the causes of defects and reducing variability in manufacturing and business processes, improvements will be realized.

Integrated Process Management (IPM) is a methodology to achieve a defined management system for the control of process variables and problem analysis. Companies can identify and assess those variables that impact their processes and products and create control strategies that support continuous improvement. IPM uses statistics as a basis for process analysis and continuous improvement activities.

Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) is a preventive approach to food safety that assesses and addresses actual and potential physical, chemical and biological hazards as a means of prevention rather than finished product inspection. By identifying potential food safety hazards, known as Critical Control Points (CCPs), key actions can be taken to reduce or eliminate the risk of the identified hazards.

The Baking Industry Sanitary Standards Committee (BISSC) oversees two ANSI-approved voluntary standards for the design of bakery equipment. Z-50.1 addresses equipment safety, while Z-50.2 focuses on equipment sanitation. These standards provide both the baker and the equipment manufacturer guidance on the safe and sanitary design of bakery equipment. BISSC certification assures the equipment being supplied is in compliance with these standards. The standards can be found on the American Society of Baking’s Web site, www.asbe.org.

International Organization for Standardization (ISO) is a nongovernmental association with no legal authority to enforce the implementation of its standards; however, many countries have adopted ISO standards as their regulatory standard. ISO standards are “technical agreements” that provide a consistent framework for compatible technology worldwide. The standards themselves are based on international consensus among experts in the field.

OSHA, HACCP, BISSC and ISO provide standards that are incorporated into process and facility designs. Five S, Six Sigma and IPM are certainly proven management systems that enables the manufacturer to create a culture of improvement and implement the program upgrades. Because these are not quick fixes, all require a commitment from top management to a sustained program to be successful.

Processors must be knowledgeable and know when to apply the standards and management programs. Instead of being constrained by the standards, use them to your advantage. Build them into your standards and documents. Finally, be consistent and make the ones you adopt routine and build them into your work practices.