Rong Murphy

Vice President of Quality Assurance and Food Safety, Maple Leaf Farms, Inc

1. Why did you choose a career in quality assurance and food safety?

I believe that quality and food safety is never an accident. Quality assurance and food safety is always the result of intelligent effort. Every food company wants to be known for its quality products. Quality assurance and food safety professionals are needed by all food companies to make sure that every single item produced is of a premium quality.

2. What are the main responsibilities in your role?

I provide executive leadership to quality assurance and food safety in three priority areas – (1) operational quality assurance and food safety; (2) biotechnology, innovation and laboratory services, and (3) specification, labelling, nutrition, and regulatory compliances.

3. What are your three biggest challenges on a daily basis?

Firstly, quality and food safety professionals need great communication skills to motivate staff and enhance their understanding of quality and food safety issues. Secondly, they will also need great analytical and writing skills, as they will need to analyze complex data and write technical quality assurance reports. Thirdly, quality and food safety professionals need to evaluate product specifications and develop a sound understanding of customer requirements before implementing complex quality assurance and food safety initiatives.

4. How do envisage the role of QA developing in the next 5years?

Five years, in today’s environment, is very hard to predict. Most businesses don’t even know what’s going to be required in two or three years. Broadly, stakeholders of supranational and governmental bodies, corporations, industry associations, and research pioneers in quality and food safety field will come together to exchange on the most imminent technical problems and solutions in local, regional and global context, enabling the development of coherent food policies that will ultimately be beneficial to agriculture, human health and the environment.

5. What role does traceability play in ensuring food safety and quality?

Traceability can only be effective if it is verifiable, applied consistently and equitably, result-oriented, and cost-justifiable. Traceability is a tool that is used to ensure quality and food safety and to also identify what is the issue that is lowering quality and food safety. Traceability plays an important role in consumer safety as speedy and targeted recalls and withdrawal can be performed immediately, meet requirement of regulations, and protect the brand image and hence also contribute to marketing.

6. Do you think consumer attitudes to traceability have changed and if so, how?

Consumers who are not willing to share personal information understand less towards traceability. Consumers increasingly recognize and appreciate the value of food traceability. Traceability provides not only a recall tool but a way to enhance the connection with the consumer, build brand loyalty, and improve quality and food safety. The challenge is how to make food traceability cost-effective, interesting, informative, entertaining, and even … fun.