Demystifying Root Cause Analysis: Key Steps to Approach Problem Solving

By Geoff Farrell

Root Cause Analysis (RCA) is a systematic method of problem solving that can be used to identify and resolve core issues that can cause a food safety incident, such as foodborne illness outbreak, processing failure or product contamination. By conducting an RCA, businesses can better understand the causes of nonconformity, deviation or other adverse effects in their food safety program. Doing so can help to determine the necessary steps to correct the root causes so that issues do not occur again.

While several factors can contribute to the occurrence of a food safety incident, oftentimes there is a specific root cause that is the underlying reason. RCA applies to all SQF programs and is mandatory in every program. RCA can be used to resolve non-conformances (NCs) issued at food safety audits, ranging from documentation NCs to facility NCs.

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