One of the most important industries overall is the food industry. The
food industry consists of everything from food processing plants to fast
food restaurants. The food industry affects nearly every living person.

Most people don’t realize how important this industry is and how it affects
their everyday lives. That is why it is so critical that the products of
this industry are at their highest quality, are free of bacteria and ensure
that the consumer will not face any detrimental consequences. Total Quality
Management (TQM) plays a big role in promising these results.

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Total Quality Management seems to be a confusing term for the layman. TQM
is a philosophy advocated by Dr. Edward Deming, a world renowned quality
guru. It was widely accepted by Japan from 1950 onward. They used this
principle for continuous refinement of an organization-wide quality system.

Since then many organizations around the world have adopted TQM or similar
methodologies. There have been many successes and many reported failures.

Success of the system depends on the total commitment of the people to
quality from top to bottom within the organization. TQM implementation is
based on team work and the philosophy of continuous improvement. Statistics
need to be used extensively to analyze and reduce the variation in the process.

In the food industry, continuous improvement is vital to the survival of a
specific company or restaurant. The customer is constantly purchasing the
products of competitors and any decline in quality will equal a decrease in
gross profits. There are several areas that a restaurant may focus on for
quality improvement such as menu offerings, hospitality, service,
cleanliness, and over all food quality. All of these aspects will be
covered in this paper concerning Total Quality Management.

Employee ; Product Quality
Various well known companies such as Ritz-Carlton Hotels and Taco Bell have
implemented Total Quality Management programs in an effort to increase
quality and market share. Ritz-Carlton of Kansas City, Missouri, recently
revamped menu selections for its rooftop-level restaurant and bar operation.

This came about through customer surveys, focus-group studies of local
restaurant patrons, employee opinions, and market analysis. This began with
the general manager, Norm Howard, as TQM must start at the top to be
successful. He states that “It TQM is about listening to your customers
and empowering your employees to participate in important business
decisions” (Stephenson, 1993).

Taco Bell, with the implementation of a Total Quality Management system,
has improved its speed of service, friendliness of service, and value for
money ratings. This company has done this by empowering employees and
seeking customer input. By integrating their employees into the system,
Taco Bell has also decreased employee turnover by 63% (Stephenson, 1993).

According to the article “TQM: Making it Work for You,” there are six areas
that need to be focused on (Stephenson, 1993). The first area is measuring
quantitative results of various surveys and studies and basing future
decisions strictly on these outcomes. This information could come from
something as simple as a comment card, but these cards must tell the
business more than what was good and bad, but why.

The second area to be focused on is empowering the employees. Allowing the
employees to be involved in the team effort. Make the employees feel
responsible for their actions and allow the employees to fix their problems.

This is where many franchises lack, making it the manager’s responsibility
to fix the problems that the employees create. If management treats
employees in a respectable manner, the employee will turn around and treat
the customer with respect also.

Avoiding errors is the third area that needs to be focused on. The main
focus of a Total Quality Management program is to eliminate errors before
they can occur. Systems cause about 80% of all errors, so if the system is
error free, then the employee has a lesser chance of making mistakes.

Next comes the integration of management into the process. Total Quality
Management implies that management must be 100% in favor of the program, or
else the employees will not respond properly. Employees will follow the
lead of the management team.

Last is to do what the customer want, as tells the aphorism “The customer
is always right.” This is the same principle. There is no sense in serving
only fried chicken if the customers demand a more health conscious baked or
grilled chicken. “Customers are not only the people who walk through the
doors looking for a meal but also your suppliers and employees” (Stephenson,

Health & Safety Quality
Total Quality Management does not just deal with product quality, but all
around, or total quality. Another area that quality needs to be
continuously improved in is health and safety. Sky Chefs, an airline
caterer recently came to the conclusion that their workers’ comp. Costs were
skyrocketing, so they incorporated their Total Quality Management program to
help solve these health and safety problems (Kay, Murphy, Harris, 1994).

The main reason for business is profit, and if workers’ comp. Costs are at
unacceptable levels, that cuts out profit.

Initially, the program focused on injury prevention and set a goal of
reducing workers’ compensation costs by 50% in three years. Task teams were
initiated to collect data on estimated future loss, loss sources and medical
treatment patterns which would be evaluated and used to eliminate hazardous
areas of operation. They also gathered qualitative data on employee and
management attitudes and beliefs, current policies which focus on potential
hazards, and the physical environment. With this data, changes were made
and continuously updated with Sky Chef reaching their goal of a 50% decline
in less than 18 months (Kay, Murphy, Harris, 1994).

The teams developed several guidelines for improvements as follows:
Incorporate safe work practices into standard work processes;
Involve line workers in all aspects of process improvement, particularly
safe work practices;
Integrate and continuously improve post-injury management processes;
Communicate concern for employees;
Create a unified data base that could deliver timely, useful information to
line managers;
Review vendors objectively and thoroughly;
Institute criteria and time-based medical care and disability management;
Implement a comprehensive modified duty program;
Create a single managerial focus for loss prevention and work-related injury
management (Kay, Murphy, Harris, 1994).

By following these directives, a company could efficiently reduce workers’
compensation costs. They have earmarked this as the Concern, Awareness,
Responsibility, and Excellence program (C.A.R.E) which is a safety
communications program which involves and rewards the line employees for
committing safe acts (Kay, Murphy, Harris, 1994).

One aspect that these articles seem to have left out is the actual quality
of the product, the food. In food service classes and in the real world,
one form of Total Quality Management is known as the Hazard Analysis
Critical Control Point, or the HACCP system. This system was developed to
ensure zero defects during food handling by monitoring the whole preparation
process. Its purpose is to identify and correct errors before they happen.

The old method of quality assurance was to test the final product (TechniCAL
1996). If the product was not sufficient, it was either held, reprocessed,
or ultimately destroyed (TechniCAL 1996). This method was costly, not only
in an economic sense, but also timely.

The HACCP system monitors the food from the delivery point through-out
storage and preparation until consumption. It analyzes critical control
points where extra precaution may be needed with potentially hazardous
foods. A flow chart is established to determine which foods need to be
analyzed at which times.
Management and employees alike must take this system very seriously and
follow all steps which includes assessing hazards, identifying critical
control points, setting up procedures for critical control points,
monitoring critical control points, taking corrective action, setting up a
record-keeping system, and verifying that the system is working (Educational
Foundation of the National Restaurant Foundation EFNRA, 1992). This
system is necessary to maintain a quality food product and I feel is a part
of Total Quality Management.

According to Russell Cross, industry guru on HACCP, the foundation between
Total Quality Management and HACCP are the same: “do it right the first
time and every time and you get a good final product” (1994). He also goes
on to state that it is necessary to check each step “along the process to
make sure the product is safe and the process is in control – instead of
relying on the end product when it’s too late to correct the problem” (1994).

The food industry is an industry where it is a necessity that health and
safety are given a number one priority, and with a Total Quality Management
system in place, it becomes much easier to facilitate these needs. If any
food product becomes contaminated it could mean illness for any customer
which consumes this product, which could bring about lawsuits and even an
Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) investigation which
could result in the closing of the business.

I was part of a management team at a local fast food restaurant and I feel
that our employee turnover rate was extremely high compared to other
businesses in town. By implementing a Total Quality Management system such
as the one used by Taco Bell, these turnover problems could subside to
acceptable levels, along with increased customer satisfaction.

The three most important factors in any food service business are
cleanliness quality, and service. A Total Quality Management program, if
implemented properly from the top down, with everyone involved in the
program believing in it, would ensure the three factors are met and will
constantly continue to improve. I feel that this is a very important factor
in an industry that is so diverse and ever-changing.

Works Cited
_____Cross, Russell. (1994). What HACCP Really Means Available: pp. 1-4.

_____Educational Foundation of the National Restaurant Association, (1992).

Applied Foodservice Sanitation, (4th ed.). Kendall/Hund Publishing Company.

_____Kay, Michael Z., Murphy, J. William, and Harris, Jeffrey S. (1994
January/February). How to Zap Your Workers’ Comp Costs Financial
Executive, pp. 44-48.

_____Stephenson, Susie. (1993, October 1). TQM: Making it Work for You
Restaurants & Institutions, pp. 109-111.

_____TechniCAL. HACCP: A Principle Whose Time has Come Available: p 1.

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