Monthly Archives: October 2012

Featured Column: A General Business Proposition – Part 1

From August through October, “The Wide Line” blog will feature a series of columns authored by Dan Strongin, a well-known name in the food industry.

Snippets from a conversation with John Nelson, CEO and Jerry Lippert, President of Nelson-Jameson, Inc.

John Nelson

John Nelson, CEO

Jerry Lippert

Jerry Lippert, President

I sat down with John and Jerry for a chat recently, by way of Skype, in order to help understand the view from the top.

Part One: Why One-Stop Shopping?

 –I’ll offer an historical perspective. In 1947 when we began, our original business model was a general store for cheese manufacturers. This was the perception of a guy named Jameson, who left the company within a couple of years. He had been a salesman for a long time in the cheese industry, selling equipment, and peering over the fence. He thought that a one-stop shop, or a general store seemed like a good idea, and the model has worked very well.  One of the best rationales I think, even today, was/is the impact on freight cost.  Often when companies look at their cost of merchandise and material, they don’t add in freight cost; they put it in a separate column. Continue reading

Grab Your Coats, Trick or Treat Bags, and…Your Havarti?

October is a month of crunchy leaves, harvest festivals, and refined sugar. Thankfully for cheese lovers, it is also a time to bask in the glory of cheese. American Cheese Month, presented by the American Cheese Society, is this October! Get out your cheese tester, your cheese slicer, and your general regard for this food staple. Across the nation, folks are gearing up for tastings, workshops, meeting their favorite cheese makers, and many other events. You can check out the full calendar of events occurring across the nation right here.

The American Cheese Society site features ideas that can help you get your operation and/or love of cheese involved in this national celebration. Chefs, cheesemakers, cheese enthusiasts, and many more are encouraged to spread the word on appreciating cheese. The celebration is meant to: “To recognize and raise awareness of the quality and diversity of American cheeses” and “To support and promote great cheese, local foods, family farms, traditional methods, and sustainable production models.”

Wedge yourself into the fun and enjoy a month of foliage and fromage! Be sure to let Nelson-Jameson know about the ways that you may be celebrating and/or getting your company involved with American Cheese Month by posting a response below. We would love to hear how you are marking this second annual event!  Also, be sure to check out our Cheese Month Promo, where you can win one of our popular cheese slicers!

American Cheese Month: Give us a review and win!

In honor of American Cheese Month, we are awarding our popular Cheese Slicer to anyone writing a product review on our website in October!

Here’s how to win: Find your favorite product from Nelson-Jameson on and add a review (review as many products as you want, but only one gift per person). We will pick someone to win each day through October. The winner will receive a FREE cheese slicer to use with  your favorite cheese during American Cheese Month and all year long!

Failure Mode and Effects Analysis in the Food Industry

An article in the April/May 2012 Food Safety Magazine entitled, “An Integrated Approach to Food Quality and Safety: A Case Study in the Cookie Industry,” brings up the possibility of food operations working with both a HACCP program and a Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (FMEA) quality management tool. In the article the authors state: “When integrated, these powerful tools can improve both quality performance and conformance within the food industry.” Though most food industry operations are familiar with HACCP, they may not be as familiar with FMEA. This may be the case, because FMEA, a part of Six Sigma, is more familiar to those in the medical field, in the auto industry, engineers, etc. As stated within the Food Safety Magazine piece, the food industry might want to consider this mode of analysis as a welcome compliment to HACCP programs in their operations.

The American Society For Quality defines FMEA as “a step-by-step approach for identifying all possible failures in a design, a manufacturing or assembly process, or a product or service.”  Originally developed by the American military and used by such organizations as NASA, the process has been employed by several different industries. By anticipating the seriousness of failures, operations can address failures that are the most likely and most severe outcomes of the product production and shipping processes. These failures are ranked with a number, the Risk Priority Number (RPN), which factors in severity, frequency and detectability.

The process of determining RPNs has been a source of some debate. When faced with such doubt and concern about the accuracy and effectiveness of currently calculating RPNs, purveyors of  FMEA would counter that FMEA has also been widely used and successfully implemented, becoming an industry standard. “An Integrated Approach…” argues that a successfully integrated model of HACCP and FMEA can be “used as a tool for continuous quality improvement,” where it can be repeatedly cycled “for continuing improvement toward product excellence.”

In a follow-up interview with one of the article’s authors, Marcia Hagen, an assistant professor of management at Metropolitan State University, she states, “It seems that the food industry has been focusing efforts and resources on those quality tools (like HACCP) that are government mandated, and have been slower in instituting some of the other quality tools that have been proven in other industries but have not been required in food service.” Also at play is the possible “clash between safety and quality” where companies may be “resourcing safety out of need while not resourcing quality appropriately.”

In regards to the food industry, there is not an overabundance of information specifically focusing on FMEA. This, of course, doesn’t mean that it has been successfully or unsuccessfully implemented in food industry operations. Whatever the case, the conversation about FMEA has room for growth.

Have you used FMEA along with your HACCP program? Has it been successful? What are the limitations of FMEA in your mind and how do you address those concerns in your operation? Are there any best practices you recommend? Please consider posting and discussing your experience with FMEA and what it has meant to your operation.