Wet sole cleaning system: In addition to use of in-plant approved shoes, boots, and shoe coverings, Hans Kissle installed a wet shoe/boot cleaning system that mechanically brushes and applies sanitizer to shoe and boot treads to help prevent contamination.
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Inkjet printer systems: A new Markem-Imaje printer system that operates on only 60 watts of power has reduced ink consumption by 40% and make-up fluid by 30%.
Other technology investments in 2011 include automatic package sealers, upgraded pH and Neogen rapid allergen testing equipment, and energy-efficient lighting. “We realize the benefits from the investments will continue for years to come,” Venti said.
Hans Kissle’s investments in training, technology, and other quality assurance efforts have paid off in numerous ways. Customer complaints fell by 19% from 2010 to 2011, even as sales increased. The ratio of customer complaints per 100,000 pounds sold was 0.32 in 2010 and 0.22 in 2011, a 29% improvement. Shipping and distribution mistakes have been reduced by 25% through improved in-plant communications and new computer and tracking systems. “This shows a direct correlation to our investment in quality control,” Beane said.
Laboratory testing represents about 30% of Hans Kissle’s quality control budget. Products are randomly selected for testing, sanitation validation, and GMP. The company conducts about 10,000 individual lab tests annually on raw materials, finished products, and new items. About 97% of all test results are in the acceptable range. The increase in customer confidence is reflected, for example, in a 70% reduction in lab tests required by one of the company’s largest customers. “The financial return truly is appreciated through minimal product returns [and] product put on internal quality control hold, and significant increase in sales over the past few years,” Beane said.
The company also increased by 50% the number of third-party certified lab tests conducted for Listeria and Salmonella in raw materials prior to being accepted into the facility. Test results were negative/375 grams for Salmonella and negative/125 grams for Listeria in 2011. “Our objective is to eliminate and not merely reduce any potential opportunity for pathogen activity,” Beane said. In-plant testing is also performed on food and non-food contact surfaces, finished goods, and on randomly selected USDA finished products.
Hans Kissle’s quality assurance efforts have led to the company rejecting about 1% of all incoming ingredients as substandard, saving about $800,000. “The raw materials rejected saves on cost to produce, cost of raw materials, time, and potential return or recall for sub-quality product,” Beane explained.
In addition to daily employee-run food safety and sanitation audits, USDA inspectors walk the facility with the quality control supervisor and sanitation manager every day prior to starting production. The military also inspects the facility annually, because Hans Kissle is a supplier for its commissaries. Hans Kissle’s policy is to allow any customer to visit or audit its facility without prior notice. “Our customers have found our facility to meet or exceed all regulatory and customer requirements,” Beane said.
Measures of true success go beyond the financial to include community involvement and support. “Hans Kissle supports organizations directly and through our partnerships with our customers’ communities and charitable organizations,” Beane said. The company provides donations of food and financial support to a number of local charities and food banks. Employees are encouraged to participate in community programs that promote wellness, including teaching food safety at a local community college, helping with youth corps, and mentoring high school students in career opportunities.
Looking forward, Hans Kissle is reviewing the FDA’s new FSMA requirements and has reevaluated its food safety plans, Venti said. And of course, developing new products is at the forefront of continued success. “New products are an essential ingredient to our growth plans,” Venti said. “Retail customers in particular are always looking for products that keep their customers interested and excited about their delis and other food operations.”