Root Cause Analysis: Saving on Food Safety

By Joan Martino

What do you think of when you hear the words “root cause analysis?” Many people envision a painstaking, tedious process that tries to discover the true reason a process failed. Who wants to do that?! The quick approach is to just point a finger and blame the employee. But in order to really find out the cause of a problem—and develop a method for corrective and preventive action—it is important to go beyond human error and fix the integrated procedures that contribute to the problem. Otherwise it will simply keep recurring. There are various tools and methods to determine root cause including: Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (FMEA), Pareto Analysis, Current Reality Tree and others.


One of the Simplest Tools is Using the 5-Why’s:

  • Why is the metal detector rejecting product? Because there is metal in the product.
  • Why is there metal in the product? Because the equipment is worn.
  • Why is worn equipment causing metal to enter the product steam? … And so on.

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