Food safety is of paramount importance to us and our entire operations system is built around it. We pride ourselves on having a strong commitment to safety to provide the best cheese and cheese-based solutions to our customers. We believe that food safety is inextricably tied to quality, and at Sargento, quality is everyone’s responsibility. Below is a snapshot of our company’s best practices to ensure consumer safety.
At Sargento, quality and safety are a comprehensive process that is built into everything we do. We continually invest in resources and systems to guarantee safety, protect brand integrity and provide continuous improvement in products and processes while educating employees and maintaining a high-quality working environment. We do this through employee involvement, education and the pursuit of excellence in our quality vision.
The Sargento HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points) System is a rigorous ongoing program that focuses on all critical points for ingredients, processing and finished products. It includes:
- Premises Control
- Receiving and Storage Control
- Equipment Performance and Maintenance
- Personnel Training
- Sanitation Control
- Pest Control
- Food Defense
- Cross-Contamination Prevention
Sargento has stringent supplier standards for all products that enter its production facilities. Each ingredient and cheese supplier must withstand a rigorous vetting process and pass our food safety audit. Our internal policy requires us to implement precise standard procedures for the identification, traceability and timely effective recovery of compromised product from the field. To ensure preparedness, every Sargento facility conducts a minimum of two mock recalls per year. The average recovery time is approximately one hour with 100 percent of stock identified.
All of our facilities are audited by state and federal regulatory agencies (i.e., USDA, FDA, etc.) Other third-party audits include the Global Food Safety Initiative (GSFI). The GSFI was launched in 2000 to work on continuous improvement in food safety management systems to ensure confidence in the delivery of food to consumers. British Retail Consortium (BRC) certification, one of several GFSI standards, provides companies supplying retailer branded foods a common basis for safety and quality measures and incorporates all CODEX requirements for food safety.
Our policies and procedures are organized to be compliant to ISO 9000 (Quality Management Systems) and ISO 17025 (General Requirements for the Competence of Calibration and Testing Laboratories). We control all data and documents, and have a corrective and preventive action system place, including an extensive internal quality audit program.
Product quality starts at our suppliers. New suppliers go through a 28-step process to assure that they are able to consistently meet our specifications. A corrective/preventive action system is in place to identify deviations to specifications with a feedback and improvement loop. State licensed cheese graders and supplier quality technologists work directly with our suppliers to assure that our product standards are achieved each and every time.
The operators on each production line continuously monitor the quality of the packages produced. All production lines are equipped with metal detectors that are verified and the results documented on a regular basis. Statistical Process Control is used to monitor weight control to meet guidelines of National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to meet USDA and FDA regulations. Quality assurance technicians conduct effectiveness checks through SOP audits and finished product audits using a statistically-based sampling plan, then provide feedback to the line operator.
The Quality Systems staff is a technical resource for internal and external customers, specifically related to food safety, regulatory requirements, and continuous improvement methodologies. Our Quality Systems staff maintains certifications in Quality Management (ASQ), Quality Auditing (ASQ), Quality Engineering (ASQ), HAACP Auditing (ASQ) and Quality Process Analysis (ASQ) and maintain licenses from the State of Wisconsin in Cheese Grading and Cheese Making.
This commitment to safety is at the core of the Sargento way. All Sargento plants are certified from the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) with an “A” rating from the British Retail Consortium (BRC). The certifications prove our dedication to going above and beyond when it comes to food safety and quality operations