It has been audit season for our salt and sodium bicarbonate production sites at Middlewich and Winnington over the past couple of months. We’ve recently completed a run of seven weeks of quality audits that are required to demonstrate that our production complies with the appropriate standards. During this period, a mix of regulatory and customer audits were conducted with a successful outcome in each one. Whilst this is a demanding and rigorous process, with each sector we serve having their own requirements, it as an opportunity to demonstrate the quality of production from our sites.
Dr Richard Diggle, Quality Manager for TCE’s salt and bicarbonate businesses commented: “The products manufactured at our sites have many varied uses, ranging from being included in drugs that treat serious illnesses to inclusion in food for human & animal consumption. This means our manufacturing processes must consistently meet the standards required by each industry. Our teams work extremely hard to ensure that the salt and sodium bicarbonate we produce meet the requirements of our diverse customer base.”
How is Salt and Sodium Bicarbonate Production Quality is Checked?
There are two routes used to ensure product meets the appropriate standards, firstly, regulatory audits completed by industry bodies that certify our compliance with the required standards, these are typically completed either annually or every three years. Alongside regulatory audits, customers from sectors such as pharmaceutical and food manufacturing may also verify the authorities’ findings with their own reviews.
Which Sectors Require Regulatory Audits?
Tata Chemicals Europe supplies salt and sodium bicarbonate to many different industries including pharmaceutical, food manufacturing, animal feed production, water treatment and to specialist technical and industrial sectors. The following are examples of the types of regulatory audits that we complete:
Pharmaceuticals - To supply active pharmaceutical ingredients we must meet the requirements known as cGMP or compliant Good Manufacturing Practice in accordance with ICHQ7. This audit is completed by the Medical and Healthcare Regulatory Authority (MHRA) every three years.
Food – The British Retail Consortium (BRC) sets standards that must be met in order to manufacture and sell food items. Compliance with this standard is audited on an annual basis.
Animal Feed – Feed Materials Assurance Scheme (FEMAS) is the standard that all animal feed materials manufacturers must meet and there is an annual audit of this at all our production sites.
For industries where there isn’t a recognised standard, the ISO 9001 standard is generally accepted as an indicator that a business has the right systems and processes in places to operate by and therefore should be a 'sound' supplier. The ISO 9001 standard is periodically reviewed and updated to take new examples of good practice into consideration. Full re-certification audits are performed every 3 years, with surveillance audits every 6 months focusing on specific areas of the standard to check compliance and drive improvements.
During the seven-week period this spring we successfully completed five regulatory audits and two customer audits.
If you’d like to know more about our quality assurance activity, please contact Dr R Diggle on 01606 724000.