[Free Poster] 6 Tips to Reduce Quality Control Chaos at Feed Mills

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Harvest 2020 comes on the tails of one of the most chaotic and confusing years most of us can remember. As this latest harvest comes rushing in, EnviroLogix is back with another list of helpful tips to assist you while the pandemonium of this year’s inbound grain ripples through the food and feed supply chains.

This year we’re focusing on Feed Mills like yours. We’re looking specifically at ways to reduce chaos and confusion in the Quality Assurance/Quality Control department. Every year Quality Control Managers face new and unique challenges, perhaps the most onerous of which is rigorously testing against an ever-lengthening battery of quality checks while trying to maintain quotas for volume and quality standards.

Some of these include positive markers:

  • Nutritional value
  • Protein
  • Vitamins

And others involve ensuring nothing has contaminated the formula:

With all of these modalities to oversee in your fast-paced quality environment, here are six tips we’ve compiled for reducing chaos and confusion at your feed mill. These recommendations come from direct customer feedback based on the very real challenges that feed mills face every day.

Maintain a Robust QA/QC Policy Streamline and Reduce Protocol Manage and Maintain Audit-compliant Data
Adhere to Best Practice Combine and Simplify Test Types Promote Health and Safety Standards
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1 MAINTAIN a Robust Quality Assurace/Quality Control (QA/QC) Policy
a photo showing a feed mill Quality Control Manager following a robust QA/QC policyAs we’ve noted previously, when feed mills are performing inbound testing, they must have a robust QA/QC policy in place. Ingredients comprise 70-90% of the cost of producing feed. For this reason alone, carefully monitoring ingredients as they arrive to ensure your quality standards is directly correlated to profitability. Your policy should define what, when, and how to measure ingredient quality. On site measurement of bulk ingredients at the point of delivery enables your feed mill to segregate low quality ingredients and appropriately re-formulate to produce finished feeds that meet requirements.

2 STREAMLINE and Reduce Protocol
workflow icon implying a streamlining and reduction of process or protocolMany of our feed mill customers are responsible for year-round testing of multiple mycotoxins for various reasons (e.g., export regulatory requirements) regardless of conditions (whether there is an outbreak in their area or not). For mills that have to test for Aflatoxin, DON (Vomitoxin), Fumonisin, and Zearalenone, the worst possible protocol would involve running four separate tests in sequence or following different protocols while trying to run them at the same time. As a prime example of streamlining/reducing protocol, solutions like TotalTox™ from EnviroLogix employs a common protocol so multi-toxin testing can be run in parallel. In fact, EnviroLogix has come out with the industry’s first and only mycotoxin comb to further reduce the number of steps required for these four mycotoxin tests. This common and simple protocol not only allows for concurrent testing, but more importantly the protocol is greatly simplified, freeing your QA/QC staff’s time to perform other tasks.

3 MANAGE and Maintain Audit-compliant Data
Icon of a data cloud with the words 'Data Management' superimposedIt goes without saying that we now live in a data-driven, and frequently audited, world. At any given feed mill, you can expect a certain number of government inspections each year. But we know that atop state and federal audits you also have to accommodate customer inspections and data audits as part of your contractual obligations. Therefore immaculate bookkeeping and recording data efficiently while minimizing the risk of human error is mission critical. To solve for this challenge, EnviroLogix introduced QuickScan II. QuickScan II is a reader for Mycotoxin and GMO tests that allows you to test multiple strips and/or combs, including a mix of mycotoxin and GMO tests at the same time. Not only does it perform these tests efficiently, but QuickScan’s onboard software also stores up to 100,000 quality reports. These reports allow you to review trends and monitor the historic values of a given grain, or a given supplier, or a particular operator on your team. This data is stored in a LIMS-compatible and export-friendly format for additional analysis.

4 ADHERE to Best Practice
image showing a compass needle pointing to the words 'Best Practice'For all the things you test as part of your QA/QC program, you become responsible for a litany of processes and procedures. We know we’re preaching to the choir when we say this, but adhering to best practices is the only way to maintain and continually improve your QA/QC program. Whether you’re working on ensuring that the probe stand follows best practices for sampling, or that those that handle samples properly follow guidelines for proper pipetting technique, or for maintaining accurate data, or cleaning and calibrating your testing equipment; you have to instill a sense of responsibility across the team to stay on top of their technique.

5 COMBINE and Simplify Test Types
Image showing a note book and marker with the word 'Simplify' written in large printWith your ever-increasing list of testing equipment, calibration procedures, and additional customer support ticketing systems, it’s not a matter of ‘if’ but ‘when’ something will inevitably go wrong. Therefore, the economies of scale and efficiency that arise when you are able to use the same piece of testing equipment to conduct even one more type of test improve exponentially. As mentioned above, the QuickScan II from EnviroLogix provides a common reader for both your mycotoxin and GMO testing needs. If and when you can find these commonalities and implement them in your QA/QC testing areas, including the probe stand and your in-house lab, you are reducing chaos and confusion.

6 PROMOTE Health and Safety Standards
Image showing a puzzle with pieces missing revealing the words 'Health and Safety'There has never been a time in history when health and safety standards at feed mills have had to be so strict. Under normal conditions, the pressure on you is extreme to ensure the health and safety of your team, as well as that of the downstream stakeholders, from humans to animals. On top of all of the factors that can generate unexpected chaos and confusion is a risk of one (or worse several) workers being infected with a virus that requires them to quarantine and you to find additional workers who can stand in for them until they’re cleared to return to work.

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