March 2017 marks the one-year anniversary of USDA regulatory oversight of the catfish industry. The industry is one year into an 18-month transition period as FSIS implements their inspection process. There is much speculation as to the future of such regulations under the new administration, but many catfish producers have already invested in the infrastructure necessary for compliance.
Prior to this change, many catfish companies collected their quality data on paper forms and entered the data into spreadsheets. The amount of data required under the new regulations meant companies were faced with a decision:
- Hire more quality personnel and continue with the same process, or
- Automate the data-collection process.
Heartland Catfish chose to automate their Q/A data management using the FSQM Module from CAT Squared. The system has now been in place at Heartland for over a year. During an annual project review, Heartland’s Assistant QA Director Walter Nance shared his thoughts on Heartland’s response to the USDA requirements.
“I would say overall the FSQM system works great for Heartland Catfish as a whole because the total amount of product checks required on a daily basis can be easily compiled onto the grading reports,” said Nance. “The reports are autogenerated every evening saving me a lot of time that can be spent reviewing the data collected rather than spending time every day manually running the twenty something daily reports required.”
Nance continued, “So far, the USDA inspectors have been satisfied with the way the system collects and reports data. There were some small issues that occurred at the beginning of the USDA inspection process, but the report building software provided by CAT Squared helped resolve those little issues, and it has been smooth operating since. Since becoming a USDA-inspected industry, I feel we have responded well to the ever-adapting methods and demands of the USDA inspection division with the help of CAT Squared’s FSQM system. I can quickly provide all data requested by the inspector with little effort. This makes everyday operations run a little bit smoother.”