By Mary Ann Maloney, Quality Manager [retired], NOW Foods
Although the term "Quality Control" is very familiar, it is not very obvious to most people exactly what it means and what the process actually entails. The Quality Control Department at NOW Foods has many responsibilities, with quality of the end product being the main objective. This task, however, is not a simple one, because it entails a number of checks before we can offer the product for sale.
Each person involved in making a product is responsible for making it a quality product. Quality departments, such as Quality Control (QC) or Quality Assurance (QA) cannot inspect quality into the product. The Quality Departments exist as an audit function within the manufacturing and packaging areas. According to NNFA GMPs, the responsibilities for QC are as follows:
1. Approve or reject all procedures, specifications, methods, and results.
2. Approve or reject all raw materials, packaging materials, labeling and finished products.
3. Review all production records for accuracy and completeness before approving for distribution.
4. Establish procedures for revising procedures, formulas, etc.
5. Approve changes to procedures, formulas, etc.
6. Ensure that the latest revision is being used at all times.
7. Perform all the required tests to ensure identity, purity, potency and composition, and to esnure that products are not contaminated or adulterated
NOW Quality staff also involved in:
Investigation of consumer complaints
Evaluation of new vendors/materials
Internal audits to verify compliance to regulations
Maintaining relationships with vendors and regulatory agencies
Most manufacturing plants produce hundreds or thousands of bottles daily. Due to volume, QC cannot inspect every bottle of every product made. This is where scientific sampling comes into play. It is important to have trained individuals in each step of the process. Producing quality products is a team effort requiring the support of the line operators, cleaning and changeover crews, and manufacturing/packaging management.
As you can see, from start to finish, the NOW Foods Quality Control Department works to maintain the highest possible standards so that you can be sure that the product that reaches the store is something you can rely on.