What is Quality Assurance?

Quality assurance (QA)  is a way of preventing mistakes and defects in food and drink products and avoiding problems when delivering products or services to customers; which ISO 9000 defines as “part of quality management focused on providing confidence that quality requirements will be fulfilled”. ISO 9000 is also about continuous improvement and meeting customer expectations. 

Typically in a food environment, QA is done by checking periodically, rather than every product. This level of checking or testing is done knowing that systems are in place and are working which will ensure consistency of the parameter being measured. Checking every product is Quality Control. 

Quality Assurance requires record keeping and systems to ensure that the product is correctly produced. There will be tolerances within the systems. These tolerances may be for a number of different parameters. Thee can include pH, weight, microbiological loading, filling ratios, volumes etc.. 

These doughnuts appear to be uniform in size, and topping coverage, but not in topping type and decoration.  This may be the customer expectation. However from a quality assurance perspective, this  would need to be in an agreement, usually as a specification. The variation can then be agreed. 

Quality control vs quality assurance

Quality control is checking every item. The checking or testing can be to destruction, particularly with food. This will lead to a business going bust very quickly. Products such as electronics can more easily be tested without destroying them. No customer is going to buy a doughnut with a chunk removed “for testing”.  Can you imagine testing every grain of rice in a delivery? 

This is where sampling comes in. For a delivery of rice, a known sample will be taken. For example 1 kg in every 1000kg. This can then be tested. It may be from one 25kg bag, or from 10 bags (1 kg from each bag). This sample or samples are tested against an agreed specification. These test may include tests for (for example) 

-broken grains,

-foreign bodies,

-colour,

-variety of rice,

chemical attributes

bacteria and other micro organisms.

 

Would you like to talk more about QA or any other aspect of food safety and quality systems? Book a call with me and let’s talk! I work with associates who are experts in a number of fields, including non food and produce.