Additionally, Endangered Species Chocolate conducts its own monthly internal audits and develops a corrective action plan to be performed within 30 days or at the next monthly audit. If the auditors discover any issues they inform the production and warehouse managers to ensure corrective action is taken. The company said conducting the monthly internal audits throughout the plant helps with continuous improvements and the sustainability of food safety and quality of its products.
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Explore This IssueOctober/November 2019
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The quality manager (SQF practitioner) and the director of operations (back-up SQF practitioner) conduct an annual internal audit. The company also performs weekly GMP audits to assure all employees have good manufacturing practices in mind.
Endangered Species Chocolate’s third-party auditors include the FDA, Indiana State Health Department, SQF Food Safety and Quality, Fairtrade, Gluten Free, non-GMO, and Kosher certifications. Each certification body requires an annual audit encompassing all food safety and quality measures.
Even though the factory doesn’t have high pest activity, Troyer says, McCloud Pest Control services both the production and warehouse facilities biweekly. Pests at both facilities have been kept to a minimum and are actively monitored for pest activity, the company says.
The company’s environmental program includes swabbing for zones one through four for the entire facility each week. It tests for Enterobacteriaceae in zones one and two. Salmonella and Listeria are tested for alternating in zones three and four from week to week.
The recent transition to a sanitizer tablet allows for a more consistent solution of sanitizer in 150 and 200 parts per million, an improvement over the previous process in which inconsistent amounts of bleach were used to make a solution. The tablets have improved swab results for all zones and decreased counts for all the company’s finished products.
Before using the tablets, the bacteria counts for finished products were well below critical limits but still high. Using the sanitation tablets, the finished product counts are 100 percent consistently <10 cfu/g for bacteria. Additionally, enterobacteriaceae, Listeria, and Salmonella counts are consistently <100 cfu/g for environmental monitoring.
Endangered Species Chocolate says its investments in quality assurance and safety measures have been rewarded in its financial return.
Customer satisfaction is up, and complaint rates are down. The complaint rate for 2018 was 0.0002 percent and is projected at 0.00003 percent for 2019, the lowest rate in five years.
Sales also rose 38.9 percent over the past five years, which the company attributes to increased efforts in quality and safety. The sales increase directly supported its ability to purchase new technology and create efficient processes focused on quality and safety.
Endangered Species Chocolate says it complies with regulations. During the first FDA inspection of its satellite warehouse, the warehouse passed with 100 percent compliance. The company also adheres to Food Safety Modernization Act guidelines at both production and warehouse facilities, and to Canadian regulations for all products sold in Canada.
The company says that while it strives to stay compliant with all food safety and quality regulations, it is also focused on its sustainability mission, including adding efficiencies to its production and cutting packaging and other waste.
“ESC validates our commitment to sustainability and verifies our purchase of clean renewable energy to match 100 percent of ESC electricity consumption,” says Troyer, who was instrumental in the company’s recently achieving a Green-e certification for renewable energy use.