What is a Certificate of Conformity?
In the world of Quality Assurance, as it applies to test pieces (whether test wands, rods, whips, balls, cubes, cylinder or pucks), a Certificate of Conformance (or Conformity/Compliance) is the document provided by a competent authority (your supplier/vendor – like Regal Packaging Services) that the test piece supplied meets the required specifications for the industry. Regal Packaging Services offers our customers a free certificate with the purchase of every test piece, made available either as sent with an order, by download or by email. These certificates, through Regal’s Testrods.com division, never expire or need to be updated. They are good for the life of the test piece.
Why Do I Need a Certificate of Conformity?
A Certificate of Conformity provides the means to track a test piece from your production line all the way back to the company who provided the metal inside the test piece. However, the vendor who will supply the certificate is ordinarily the manufacturer of the test piece, which will include the metal as well as the plastic or other material housing the metal. Metal is sourced by a company, like Regal Packaging Services (Testrods.com), and then used to insert into various type of test pieces. Regal Packaging certifies that the housing and adhesive are food grade safe and the metal meets the NIST standards for the industry. When an auditor arrives to inspect a food packaging or production facility, he/she will most likely ask to see the certificates for the test pieces being used on the line. There will always be a method, usually a numbering system, which identifies the corresponding certificate. In the event an inspector wants or needs to track the validity of conformance to a HACCP plan or industry standards, you have the assurance that can be accomplished. In other words, for example, if you say your metal detection system can detect 1.0mm Ferrous material, you can confirm for the inspector that the supplier for your test pieces, has, in fact, provided you with the test piece to validate that claim.
Why Do Certificate Numbers Seem So Random?
Certificate numbers will vary widely because a batch or lot of metal is given a number used by a company to identify a variety of variables, including date, time, machinery and metal origin. A certificate for a 2.0mm Ferrous test piece may have two, three, or any multiple of certificate numbers over time based on the variables described above.
Why Does the Same Certificate Number Appear on Different Kinds of Test Pieces?
Certificate numbers are always tied to the metal inside the test piece. A cylinder with a 2.0mm Ferrous ball can be the same as a laminate card, test rod, wand, whip, puck or any other type test piece as long as it houses metal from the same batch (lot).
Do I need to update my certificates annually?
Certificates should never need to be updated unless you have purchased new test pieces with a different number than the ones you currently have. The metal detector signal produced from these products does not deteriorate over time, so any company proposing that certificates must be updated is likely looking for a way to make an additional sale for something unnecessary.
How much do can I expect to spend for certificates?
Depending on where you purchase your test pieces, you can expect to pay as much as $100 each for every test piece. At Regal Packaging Services, we provide all certificates at no charge. We believe the certificate is an extension of the product. We make certificates easily available via our website or by contacting customer service. Certificates can be mailed, included with your order, emailed or downloaded from our website.
What makes certification in the Food Industry any different from other industries?
In regard to test pieces, food safety certification should always be a third-party process and verification which demonstrates that processes and systems meet accepted food safety standards. In the food industry, there is a unique distinction from other types of conformity such as supplier declarations, laboratory tests or inspection body reports. Certification within this industry is based on test results, inspections and audits that are ultimately designed not only to protect consumers, but to give the public confidence in a given product and in the industry as a whole. When metal shows up in food because a company failed to use certified test pieces, it affects the end users’ trust in the industry as a whole. And it won’t matter whether the contaminant is discovered in a canned, bagged, boxed, frozen or fresh product – consumers will begin to mistrust the food industry at a foundational level. Any given company can destroy its reputation when a contaminant is uncovered in its brand. So test pieces, whether in a metal detection or x-ray process, while a small part of production, are no less critical.
When no legal policies are in place for a particular sector of the food industry or a need to conform to standards, food safety certification at every level should be considered more imperative than simply voluntary. In such cases, a company may set its own levels of certification, such as a HACCP plan, conformity to another given standard, such as an in-house product constraint, or a blueprint for gaining a strategic advantage in the marketplace, always keeping in mind that food safety certification works as an incentive to consumers for company and brand loyalty.
With increased awareness and news highlights from recent food recalls, consumers are insisting on an increase in standards in every part of the global supply chain. Those businesses that make proper use of certified test pieces purchased from a trustworthy enterprise will gain a competitive benefit in the market.
Due diligence is absolutely vital in testing. At a basic level, it demonstrates that management is meeting its legal responsibilities as it relates to food safety and regulations and is doing so efficiently and effectively. In a variety of circumstances, an operational HACCP plan can serve as a defense in against litigation of food contamination. Many associations such as packing, horticultural, packaging and quality assurance offer safety standards and certification procedures that may comply with or identify national standards and may be harmonized with the international conventions of the HACCP plan.