Catherine has been working as Global Quality Manager for Lallemand Animal Nutrition for over 10 years and has developed a strong knowledge of Lallemand’s plants and processes from previous positions in R&D process, regulatory, and quality. She holds an M.Sc. in microbiology and MBA in Life Sciences which allows her to have both scientific and business-oriented approaches.
Catherine, can you introduce your team and how quality is organized at Lallemand Animal Nutrition?
Our quality team organization is both global and local. Each production plant has its own dedicated QA & QC team responsible for the plant Quality system, FAMI QS certification, and the QC laboratory. We also have a global quality team in charge of coordination and harmonization of systems and analysis, managing formulation and specifications of our products, qualifying external suppliers and sub-contractors, maintaining the Blagnac (France) headquarters’ FAMI QS certification and, last but not least, creating documents such as labels, product data sheets and safety data sheets.
How do you guarantee the safety and quality of each product?
The most visible part of “guaranteed safety and quality” is the release testing and data reported on a certificate of analysis or conformity for each batch. However, as the famous saying goes, quality is a journey, not a destination. We focus on safety and quality from product development to the end of shelf life. We apply HACCP principles from the development stage to make sure each ingredient and the final formulation are safe for the intended use. Plants selected for production must have FAMI QS (or equivalent) site certifications. This ensures that the production facility has a quality and safety system including GMP, HACCP and FFFD (Feed Fraud and Feed Defense), which is audited annually by a third-party certification body.
Even after a batch is released onto the market, we continue to focus on quality. We undertake stability studies to ensure quality and efficacy until the end of the product shelf life and we test our customer’s products to make sure our solutions are still active in the final product.
What are the challenges in producing and testing yeast and bacteria?
Working with live organisms can be difficult because they are not as predictable as chemical compounds. Some even say the growth of yeast is affected by the phase of the moon, although I don’t think we have serious data to support this… Quantification is a particular challenge. The officially recognized method for yeast and bacteria enumeration is still the plate count. This classical microbiology technique is very dependent on the technician performing the analysis, equipment, media, etc. and is also time-consuming. Despite our efforts to harmonize the methods within Lallemand laboratories and with official control laboratories, we may still observe variations from lab to lab.
Another challenge when producing live yeast and bacteria, with conditions in place for optimal growth, is to make sure we don’t also grow undesirable microorganisms. We also need to be careful not to “damage” our live cells in the downstream process. Finally, we want the microorganisms to remain stable throughout the defined shelf life and for the given application.
In summary, our ongoing challenge is to cultivate a pure, high concentration of the specific microorganism, to keep the cells alive and stable, and to be able to quantify them reproducibly from one lab to the other.
How do we make sure that our customers benefit from the yeast and bacteria right up to farm gate?
We have a dedicated customer analysis service, with laboratories in UK and in US, to verify that our microorganisms are still viable in our customer’s products. Feed production often subjects live yeast and bacteria to challenging conditions and we work with our customers to optimize our products’ survival in their feed applications.
How can you assure customers of your ability to deliver, whatever the circumstance, products of the same consistent quality?
The advantage of being primary producers and part of a group specialized in fermentation is that we have several production plants capable of producing yeast and bacteria. This allows us to have contingency/continuity plans; a critical factor in being able to satisfy our customers in spite of the current global challenges. We are deeply involved with the production and QA/QC teams of our plants, making sure we can consistently achieve the same product quality from one plant to the other, and work together on continuous improvement.
Being part of a group, we also have shared corporate quality policies and systems. As an example, Lallemand group operates a centralized complaint system across the plants and business units. Feedback from customers is vital and all complaint information is communicated via this system to the facilities involved as well as to senior management from the business unit and the corporate Lallemand Group, from submission to complaint resolution.