Food manufacturers who find an issue during an internal food safety audit need to perform a root cause analysis and take corrective actions in order to eliminate the problem. But what if subsequent internal audits reveal the same repeating issue? That is a good indication that the company did not find all of the root causes to place corrective actions against. And for many companies, the issue comes back repeatedly despite corrective actions.
Recurring issues exist because food manufacturers often stop the process of root cause analysis after finding only one root cause. Root causes in food production facilities are much like a weed growing up through the crack in a sidewalk. The part of the weed visible above the sidewalk can be referred to as the “symptom.” Someone may use a Weed Wacker to remove the visible portion, but detaching this does not remove the roots below the surface. So, over time the weed grows back through the sidewalk because the roots were not eliminated. The same holds true for problems found in a food production facility. For example, say an internal audit finds forklift damage to a wall in a facility. The damage you can physically see in the wall would be known as the symptom, but the root cause lies in what caused the damage to the wall in first place. If the company repairs the damaged wall and thinks the problem is solved without addressing the root cause, then the wall will likely be damaged again and again.