Quality control checks for finished product inspection

It has to be admitted that it is not possible to completely define and test for all the characters that make up a biscuit product. It is therefore necessary that QC staff are sensitive to variations that do or might occur in the processing which may affect the product quality and to make checks as appropriate. It is this understanding that will decide the frequency of sampling and checking. Under a good quality and process control culture QC staff will be informed promptly by production if there are difficulties which may affect the product quality. Through co-operation the correct actions will be agreed.

A view must be taken on how finished products should be adequately monitored bearing in mind that all the control systems in the factory should be aimed at preventing variation and contamination. As a result of spot checks the extent of some problems can be estimated with a view to tightening up controls earlier in the process. These may include checks on:

  • pack weights and examination of process control pack weight records
  • pack appearance, correctness of coding/overprinting
  • storage tests to check pack performance and product shelf life
  • recording the incidences of broken biscuits within packs.
  • organoleptic checks (tasting tests) on biscuit texture and flavour
  • metal detection facilities, review of "finds" from the automatic machines
  • warehouse conditions e.g. stacking and rotation of stocks
  • procedures for loading of trucks and damage during distribution.
  • storage conditions and stock rotation at depots.

Instruments may be installed to monitor pack weights and the records from these will be of great value. The instruments, usually known as check weighers, need to be calibrated and checked for correct performance at regular intervals. It must be decided who is responsible for this and a facility provided to confirm that checks have been made.

Metal detecting instruments also must be checked for correct performance regularly.

It is becoming more common for biscuits to be sold with precise claims of nutritional value. Where this is the case Quality Control must take adequate samples and make assays by approved methods to substantiate claims on the labels.

Reviews of results from these QC checks of packed production over a number of days or weeks may reveal shortcomings of packaging materials or various machines. It is the duty of the QC Manager to spot these points and to communicate with process control, engineering, product development, etc. staff to see if actions by production personnel could give improvements or whether a development project should be instigated.

Discovery of substandard packed stock requires urgent and logical management procedures. What is done depends on the nature of the problem and the attitude of the Sales Director. Just occasionally it may be necessary to recall stock that has left the factory and even got as far as the retailing shops. It is very important that thought is given to what to do in these circumstances before an incidence occurs. The press media have an unfortunate skill in humiliating management that is unprepared in incidents that cause public concern, even though they may be very rare.