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Food Control 63 (2016) 179e186

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Food Control
journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/foodcont

A ‘best practice score’ for the assessment of food quality and safety
management systems in fresh-cut produce sector
P.G. Tzamalis a, *, D.B. Panagiotakos b, E.H. Drosinos a
Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, Agricultural University of Athens, Athens, Greece
Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, Harokopio University, Athens, Greece

a r t i c l e i n f o a b s t r a c t

Article history: The purpose of the present work was to develop a tool for the assessment of the Food Safety and Quality
Received 31 July 2015 Management Systems (FSQMSs) applied in 75 (68% participation rate) micro, small and medium-sized
Received in revised form enterprises (SMEs) of the fresh-cut produce sector. Initially, a diagnostic quantitative questionnaire
12 October 2015
was constructed. The design and the implementation of this questionnaire were influenced by the SMEs
Accepted 10 November 2015
Available online 18 November 2015
business environment. The most common certified FSQMS was according to ISO 22000:2005 (N ¼ 54).
Twenty-eight SMEs had primary production in their process. Using factor analysis with the principal
components method, six factors (PCF) were extracted that explained 67% of the total information of the
Food safety and quality
FSQMSs performance. The six factors were ‘shelf life validation’, ‘prerequisites’, ‘product labeling’,
Management systems ‘sanitation facilities’, ‘packaging’ and ‘deviation control’. The quartiles of the PCF scores may be used as
Assessment tool cut-offs for a simple SMEs classification (poor, moderate, good and excellent). The proposed tool and
Benchmarking tool overall methodology can be used by an SME to provide the ‘Best Practice Score’ for the FSQMSs. It will
Fresh-cut produce also be an input in management review for deciding opportunities of FSQMS improvement.
© 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

1. Introduction This is particularly important for SMEs, as they do not always have
the necessary knowledge, experience, and resources both human
During the last years the fresh-cut produce sector has been and financial (Karipidis, Athanassiadis, Aggelopoulos, &
under a demand to implement different food safety and quality Giompliakis, 2009; Lo & Humphreys, 2000; Yapp & Fairman,
assurance standards and guidelines. Drivers of this pressure were, 2006). The development and implementation of a FSQMS in SMEs
primarily the requirements by the European legislation (EC, 2004) are restricted by factors such as: the absence of time and resources
as well as markets' demands by retailers and consumers. The (human and financial), the high costs of implementation, and a lack
implementation of a Food Safety and Quality Management System of knowledge and experience (Aggelogiannopoulos, Drosinos, &
(FSQMS) started at first, at inspection practices and currently Athanasopoulos, 2007; Karipidis et al., 2009; Mondelaers & Van
developed to management system approach focused on risk man- Huylenbroeck, 2008). In addition, inadequate information and
agement (ISO/DIS, 2014). The contemporary FSQMSs applied by lack of motivation (Semos & Kontogeorgos, 2007), insufficient
organizations in the fresh-cut produce sector are self-audited or support and guidance, limitations in productive time, financial and
audited by customers, competent authorities (official audits) and personnel resources, as well as low top management and personnel
certification bodies. After audit process, improvements need to be commitment lead up to discouragement (Aggelogiannopoulos
made in order to comply with the auditing findings (Jacxsens et al., et al., 2007). Other barriers to the implementation of HACCP in
2011; Luning et al., 2009). small businesses include lack of expertise, absence of legal re-
However, the necessity to develop tools for strengthening the quirements, financial constraints and attitudes (Ehiri, Morris, &
organizations in diagnosing and improving their FSQMSs is of McEwen, 1995; Taylor, 2001; Walker, Pritchard, & Forsythe, 2003;
paramount importance and is an emergent need for the food sector. WHO, 1999).
A diagnostic improvement tool (FSMS-DI, Food Safety Manage-
ment Systems Diagnostic Instrument), roadmaps for improvement,
* Corresponding author. Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, protocol for validation and verification, and assessment tools (Mi-
Agricultural University of Athens, Iera Odos 75, 11855 Athens, Greece. crobial Assessment Scheme) have been proposed in the literature to
E-mail address: pertzam@aua.gr (P.G. Tzamalis).

0956-7135/© 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
180 P.G. Tzamalis et al. / Food Control 63 (2016) 179e186

assess the performance of current FSMS in the food industry h. GlobalGAP was introduced by FoodPLUS GmbH, derivative of
(Jacxsens et al., 2009, 2011; Jacxsens et al., 2010; Luning, Bango, GLOBALGAP, to raise standards in the production of fresh fruit
Kussaga, Rovira, & Marcelis, 2008; Luning et al., 2011, 2009; Van and vegetables. Certification to the Standard ensures a level
der Spiegel, 2004). The existing tools are guidelines for the vali- playing field in terms of food safety and quality, and proves that
dation of food control measures (CAC, 2008). For example, FSMS-DI growers are prepared to constantly improve systems to raise
is a diagnostic tool that contributes to the measurement of the standards (GlobalGAP, 2013).
performance of the FSMS in an organisation suggested for the lamb
chain; it enables a systematic analysis and assessment of a com- The performance of such systems in practice is variable. A
pany's unique FSMS. The tool consists of comprehensive lists of number of studies highlighted positive effects on the imple-
indicators used to analyse core control and assurance activities mentation of such systems (Khatry & Collins, 2007; Nanyunja et al.,
addressed to the company's specific FSMS and which context fac- 2015; Naugle, Barlow, Eblen, Teter, & Umholtz, 2006). On the other
tors could affect the FSMS (Nanyunja et al., 2015). hand other studies specify that inappropriate implementation of
Mortimore (2000) presented a straightforward and practical such systems is a reason for customer complaints, product recall
description of the procedures typically used within the food and even foodborne diseases (Luning & Marcelis, 2006; Naugle
manufacturing industry for assessing both HACCP plans and their et al., 2006; Sun & Ockerman, 2005).
implementation. Wilkinson and Wheelock (2004) published a In the present study, in the framework of the European Union
checklist of questions for Irish food production plants, designed to project QUAFETY (www.quafety.eu), an effort was made to develop
be applied by trained auditors. Wallace, Powell, and Holyoak (2005) a tool to provide a ‘best practice score’ independent of the
developed two audit checklist tools to provide a step-wise commonly used standards and schemes, compiling a questionnaire
approach to HACCP assessment. The tools were designed to based on factors influencing the implementation of such systems.
assess the validity of the HACCP plan and the implementation and Although such assessment tools have been developed in other
maintenance of the HACCP system. Domenech, Escriche, and sectors including the fresh produce sector (Kirezieva, Jacxsens,
Martorell (2008) presented an application example of a model to Uyttendaele, Van Boekel, & Luning, 2013) in the fresh-cut pro-
assess the effectiveness of CCPs. The above approaches are rather duce sector there is no such tool and QUAFETY tried to fill in this
generic instruments focused on the implementation and assess- gap. Therefore, this work was carried out in order to describe risk
ment of HACCP principles in food industry. factors and corresponding indicators. Based on these indicators a
FSQMSs commonly consists of two distinct types of activities, (i) questionnaire was constructed to assess organizations in the fresh-
food safety control, and (2) quality assurance focused on providing cut produce sector in order to obtain their ‘best practice score’.
confidence that requirements will be met (Luning & Marcelis,
2006). Both activities contribute to the overall performance of a 2. Materials and methods
FSQMS. SMEs have difficulty in realizing the specific differences
between various FSQMSs and judging the possible consequences of 2.1. Risk factors and indicators selection
implementation, because they do not always have the necessary
expertise, experience, and resources as mentioned above. To develop a specific conceptual framework for the fresh-cut
Organizations in fresh-cut produce sector had tried to apply produce sector, it was necessary to identify which product and
optional or compulsory FSQMS in their premises. The most com- process characteristics (technological elements) are crucial for
mon are: product safety and quality, as well as which organizational factors
and characteristics of the food chain (managerial elements) affect
a. ISO 22000 a standard containing requirements for the food food quality and safety. In order to identify both the technological
safety management systems relating to the entire food supply and managerial parameters that play an important role for the
chain (ISO, 2005). safety and quality of the fresh-cut produce sector, an extensive
b. The FSSC 22000 Food Safety Management System scheme is literature research for fresh-cut produce sector was conducted.
intended for the audit and certification of the food safety system Based on the information acquired from the literature, risk factors
of organizations in the food supply chain (FSSC 22000, 2015). were related to the internal and external environment of the or-
c. BRC Global Standard for Food Safety has been developed to ganization, and the actual FSQMS. The overall methodology of the
specify the safety, quality and operational criteria required to be research is shown in Fig. 1. It encompasses three steps. In step 1 an
in place within a food manufacturing organisation to fulfil ob- extensive literature review to obtain a list of generic measurement
ligations with regard to legal compliance and protection of the indicators was conducted. In step 2, selection and identification of
consumer (BRC, 2015). indicators obtained in step 1 relevant and/or can be modified into
d. HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) is a system specific ones for the fresh-cut produce sector was performed. The
that identifies, evaluates and controls hazards that are signifi- selection phase was based on discussions with experts of the fresh-
cant for food safety (CAC, 2009). cut produce sector. Finally, in step 3 validation was conducted to
e. IFS International Food Standard is a quality and food safety check the relevance, comprehensibility and availability of the
standard for retailer (and wholesaler) branded food products, selected indicators at the fresh-cut produce sector.
which is intended to assess suppliers' food safety and quality
systems, with a uniform approach that harmonizes both ele- 2.2. Development of the instrument e questionnaire
ments (IFS, 2014).
f. The SQF Code is a HACCP e based supplier assurance code for The proposed tool consisted of the following sections: (i)
the food industry from farm to fork (SQFI, 2014). Background information for SME (size, sector and usage of
g. AGRO 2.1-2.2 Greek standards for the Integrated Management FSQMSs), (ii) and (iii) Risk factors ascertainment of the SME
System for agricultural production, which describe the re- (Table 2), (iv) General effects from the implementation of FSQMSs,
quirements that a farm must comply with in order to be certified giving the opportunity to provide opinions about the effects of the
for implementation of Integrated Management System in the implementation of FSQMSs in organizations, and (v) quantitative
primary production (AGROCERT, 2008). assessment of the organization.
Section 5 of the tool contained 107 questions that evaluated
P.G. Tzamalis et al. / Food Control 63 (2016) 179e186 181

Managerial elements

of indicators
tool Literature review


Assessment of

Data collecƟon MulƟvariate analysis –

Factor analysis
Data cleaning

Main Factor(s) that beƩer describe SMEs pracƟces

Best PracƟce score

based on principal Score individual components of each factor(s) (0-6)
component analysis
of quesƟonnaires

Development of a “Best PracƟce” score (0-xx)

Fig. 1. Procedure of the development of the tool and a ‘Best practice score’.

implementation of the principles of Good Agricultural Practices approached); the data were collected through the study's in-
(GAP), where this was applicable, maintenance of prerequisite vestigators, during face-to-face interviews with the organization's
programs and manufacturing controls during the production pro- quality manager or in case that they were not available, with the
cess. Each question was graded with a six-level scale (1 ¼ never, owner of the organization. The second stage took place from
2 ¼ sometimes (<50% of the cases), 3 ¼ often (50%e90%), September to December 2013.
4 ¼ always, 5 ¼ not applicable, 6 ¼ never as customer demand).

2.4. Statistical analysis

2.3. Application of the proposed methodology to SMEs
To illustrate the results, continuous variables are presented as
The study was conducted in two stages. At first, a small number mean values and standard deviation or median and interquartile
(n ¼ 12) of organizations was contacted from June to September (IQR) range in the case of asymmetric distributions; categorical
2013 in the form of a pilot study, in order to test the whole pro- variables are presented as absolute and relative frequencies. Asso-
cedure. Based on the experience gained, the final version of the ciations between categorical variables were tested by chi-squared
questionnaire was developed and distributed to the n ¼ 75 SMEs or Fischer's exact test. Internal consistency of the questions of
that finally participated (out of the 110 that were initially Section 4 was assessed using Cronbach's alpha coefficient
182 P.G. Tzamalis et al. / Food Control 63 (2016) 179e186

(Cronbach, 1951), which normally ranges between 0 and 1. As a rule this survey is presented in Fig. 2. The geographic distribution of
of thumb alpha coefficient values >0.9 defined an ‘Excellent’ in- SMEs is proportional to the overall distribution of the primary
ternal consistency, values >0.8 e ‘Good’, values >0.7 e ‘Acceptable’, production of fruits and vegetables, as well as to the distribution of
values >0.6 e ‘Questionable’, values >0.5 e ‘Poor’ and values <0.5 e the SMEs which activate in the fresh-cut produce sector.
‘Unacceptable’ (George & Mallery, 2003). Factor analysis was per- Basic characteristics of the participating SMEs are presented in
formed by the principal component method (PC) (Pearson, 1901). Table 1. The most common certified FSQMS was according to ISO
The suitability of factors to be included in the analysis was tested by 22000:2005 (N ¼ 54) while 29 organizations were certified ac-
the Bartlett's test of sphericity index and the Kaiser-Meyer-Olkin cording to ISO 9001:2008. For the organizations which had primary
(KMO) criterion (Box, 1949; Cureton & D'Agostino, 1983). P-values production in their activities, implemented system was according
less than 0.05 and large values of KMO index (>0.70), indicate GlobalGAP and AGRO 2.1 and 2.2 standards (N ¼ 22). The vast
adequate intercorrelation of the variables to be included in a majority of the participating SMEs had an organization chart in
meaningful factor analysis. Factor loadings, using the correlation place (89%), with most of them having at least 2 levels of hierarchy
matrix, were derived after orthogonal varimax rotation in order to (83.3%). Except of SMEs size, where a linear trend was observed,
identify the best underlying factors that are also uncorrelated of with the application of FSQMS (P < 0.05); i.e., the larger the size of
each other. Missing values in few questions (i.e., not applicable to the company, the more likely the company to have FSQMS imple-
the specific SME or no answer) were replaced with the variable mentation or certification. The remaining SMEs' characteristics
median. The number of principal component factors (PCF) that were not associated with implementation or certification of
were retained was decided based on the rule of having an eigen- FSQMSs (P > 0.05).
value greater than one (which represents the average eigenvalue of Referring to the economic data, the majority of the organiza-
the information matrix). Then, a total score for the evaluation of tions have a financial report, but they refused to provide their
SMEs performance was developed based on the factor loadings. In financial profile (‘costs’ in Table 2). In Section 4 of the tool the
particular, for each subscale, the sum of the product of each majority of the organizations did not provide explicit comments for
retained variable's value with its corresponding loading greater the effects of the implementation of the FSQMSs on their
than 0.5 was calculated (it was decided to keep items within each organizations.
factor with loading >0.5 since they are widely considered as more Questions on good agricultural practices (GAP) of the tool refers
meaningful and no acceptable statistical test exists). Subscales to- to SMEs with primary production in their process (N ¼ 28). As a
tals were standardized to a 0e100 range. All reported P-values are consequence, this part was not applicable to the rest of the SMEs
based on two-sided tests and compared to a significance level of 5%. (N ¼ 40), whereas 7 organizations did not clarify if primary pro-
SPSS software was used for all the statistical calculations (version duction was included in their processes.
20, IBM Corp.). Since most of the organizations with primary production in
their processes implement GAP, most replied ‘always’ in this part,
and thus, there was small variability among SMEs and the
3. Results discrimination of organizations based on this part of the ques-
tionnaire was limited. As regards prerequisites and manufacturing
3.1. Characteristics of the participating SMEs controls these refer to all SMEs. Apart from the first question (i.e.,
‘are the establishments located in areas where the presence of
A geographical distribution of the Greek SMEs that took part in


Number of companies




Attica West Greece South Greece Peloponnese North Greece Italy Israel Portugal Turkey
Geographical area

Fig. 2. Geographical distribution of the SMEs took part in this survey.

P.G. Tzamalis et al. / Food Control 63 (2016) 179e186 183

Table 1
Basic characteristics of the participating SMEs (n ¼ 75) in the application study.

Basic characteristics N (%)

1. Sizea of the company (number of employees), n (%) <10 (micro) 34 (50)

<50 (small) 22 (32.4)
<250 (medium) 12 (17.6)
2. Organization chart, Yes n (%) 64 (88.9)
3. Levelsb inside the organization 0 1 (1.4)
1 11 (15.3)
2 24 (33.3)
3 24 (33.3)
4 11 (15.3)
5 1 (1.4)
4. Primary production for processing Yes n (%) 28 (41.2)
5. Implementation of quality and food safety management system Yes n (%) 64 (88.9)
6. Certification of quality and/or food safety management system Yes n (%) 63 (87.5)
7. Quality and/or food safety management team Yes n (%) 78.7 (59)
8. Company supported by external experts in implementing QFSMSs Yes n (%) 81.3 (61)
According the European Commissions' definition of micro, small and medium-sized enterprise (EC, 2003).
Levels ¼ management levels (hierarchical view).

Table 2
Risk factors and indicators of the SME.

Risk factors Indicators

1. Variation of organization i. Number of employees (permanent and temporary)

ii. Number of produced products
iii. Commercial relationships
2. Variation of purchase i. Number of suppliers
ii. Number of incoming material
iii. Maximum reception time of raw materials
3. Variation of raw materials i. Propagation material
ii. Pre-harvesting factors
iii. Harvesting conditions
iv. Legislation compliance
v. Packaging and storage areas e transportation
4. Variation of sales i. Number of customers
ii. Maximum distribution time of final products
5. Variation of production process i. Degree of automation
ii. Process steps
iii. Average number of washing steps
iv. Number of cutting machines
v. Temperature control during processing
vi. Transportation e storage
vii. Raw materials, packaging materials and final products which are stored
viii. Deviation control
6. Variation of product assortment i. Number of product groups
ii. Type of product groups
iii. Total number of products
7. Quality and safety management i. Leadership and top management commitment
ii. Training personnel
iii. Quality information and performance measurement, SPC tools
iv. Business assurance and business continuity
v. Continuous improvement
vi. Customer focus and satisfaction
vii. Supply control
viii. Production control
ix. Distribution control
8. Physical product quality and safety i. Hygiene control measures evaluation
ii. Process design: shelf life validation
iii. Product formulation
iv. Product processing records
v. Container coding and labelling
vi. Effective control
vii. Verification Procedures
9. Availability i. Percentage of undelivered products
ii. Percentage of additional deliveries
iii. Percentage of out of stock
iv. Percentage of overproduction
10. Costs i. Turnover
184 P.G. Tzamalis et al. / Food Control 63 (2016) 179e186

potential harmful substances would lead to unsafe finished prod- final scores were calculated and standardized to a 0e100 scale in
uct’) which was almost uniformly replied to with ‘never’, as it can order to propose a methodological framework for SMEs' classifi-
be seen there was substantial variability in the SMEs responses. cation as regards FSQMSs.
This specific tool focuses both on technological and managerial
3.2. Factor analysis elements implemented in organisations in the fresh-cut produce
sector, and it is possible to finally assess and classify the organisa-
Two different analyses were applied to the Section 5 of the tool, tions according to their individual score (diagnostic and bench-
the first to SMEs with and the second to SMEs without a primary marking tool). It is a tool enabling the assessment or even the
production in their processes. The results for the internal consis- monitoring of the FSQMS performance as well as a tool to assess the
tency for the two sub-analyses revealed that in both cases overall organisation situation in business processes and its performance
Cronbach's alpha coefficient was very high (0.955 and 0.957, compared with competitors.
respectively), indicating high internal consistency of the questions. Furthermore, the assessment of the FSQMS will support food
As regards the factor analysis, for the SMEs with primary pro- manufacturers in deciding which quality and safety management
duction in their production process, small values for KMO index activities are most suitable for achieving HACCP objectives and in
were observed (KMO ¼ 0.590) indicating that factor analysis deciding to add or improve safety management activities (Van der
probably is not very meaningful in revealing patterns in SMEs Spiegel, 2004). As a consequence, a food company can identify its
practice. Additionally, Bartlett's test of sphericity gave clearly not strengths and weaknesses in food safety, and based on strategic
significant results (P ¼ 1.00), providing an additional indication of decisions, maximize strengths or decrease weaknesses in order to
the unsuitability of factors analysis. improve the safety of its products.
On the contrary, the analysis for all SMEs provided large values The effective implementation of a FSQMS is necessary due to
for KMO index (KMO ¼ 0.766) and significant Bartlett's test of current issues of increased consumer demands, strong competition
sphericity (P < 0.001), both indicating that factor analysis would be and low budget. A tool easily applicable to SMEs in the fresh-cut
suitable for ‘prerequisites’ and ‘manufacturing control’ parts of the produce sector, in order to assess FSQMSs, may overcome the
tool. Based on the criteria mentioned in the Material and Methods, aforementioned difficulties. The present tool was developed to
six principal factors were retained and presented in Table 3. How- assess the FSQMS, independent of the implemented FSQMSs.
ever, it should be noted that there was a large difference between The implementation of a FSQMS will be easily applicable in large
the first factor (eigenvalue ¼ 14.66; explained variability: 38.5%) scale organisations with well educated personnel and a laboratory
and the rest factors (eigenvalues ranging from 3.36 to 1.38). A total support. The developed tool could contribute to assess FSQMSs in
explained variability for the six factors was 67.2%. The six factors SMEs considering the difficulties and obstacles they are facing due
were ‘shelf life validation’, ‘prerequisites’, ‘product labeling’, ‘sani- to their magnitude. The six factors extracted, representing a
tation facilities’, ‘packaging’ and ‘deviation control’ explained 38.5%, particular part of the questionnaire referring to ‘prerequisites’ and
8.8%, 6.8%, 4.9%, 4.2% and 3.6% of the total variability, respectively. ‘manufacturing control’, explain the major indicator variables
The rest of the components, were meaningless and each of them identified in the literature.
explained less than 1% of the variation of the retrieved practices and However, despite the strengths and the novelty of the present
procedures. The equations providing the scores for each factor are work, there are some limitations mainly due to the possible impact
given in Table 3. In general, the higher the individual PCF scores, the or influence the application to other countries with different
higher the SMEs performance. In the present case, median (IQR) for businesses environment may have. Thus, the proposed methodol-
PCF1, PCF2, PCF3, PCF4, PCF5 and PCF6 were 72 (48e91), 82 (63e93), ogy needs calibration in different technological and managerial
69 (50e88), 60 (42e67), 86 (67e100) and 67 (37e80), respectively. backgrounds, in order to be applicable, with meaningful and
Distribution of the SMEs based on these principal factors is illus- comparable results in other countries. For future studies, it is sug-
trated in Fig. 3. To classify SMEs in more meaningful groups gested to test the proposed tool for its validity in different food
regarding their performance in each factor (poor, moderate, good, sectors. Also, there is a possible bias on behalf of quality managers
excellent performance) the quartiles of the PCF scores were used as or top managers in answering the questions.
cut-offs. Because, the 75th percentile for PCF5 was 100, SMEs could Data analysis has revealed six factors that represent the main
be classified only in 3 categories (poor, moderate and good). systems' goals that describe their effective implementation.
Kafetzopoulos and Gotzamani (2014) propose a multidimensional
tool for measuring the combined effective implementation of ISO
4. Discussion
9001 and HACCP and its contribution to food companies' perfor-
mance. Furthermore, Kafetzopoulos, Psomas, and Kafetzopoulos
For each component, of the performed multivariate analysis,

Table 3
Items characterized each of the 6 extracted principal factors e PCF, in the application study in SMEs (N ¼ 75) and the equations providing the scores for each factor.

Principal component, explained variation (%) Description (dimension) Items included

PCF1, 38.56 ‘Shelf life validation’ Q21.1, Q22.1, Q22.2, Q23.1, Q23.2, Q25.1, Q27.1, Q30.3
PCF2, 8.83 ‘Prerequisites’ Q10.1, Q11.2, Q14.1, Q15.1, Q15.2, Q16.1, Q17.1, Q18.1, Q20.1
PCF3, 6.85 ‘Product labeling’ Q15.2, Q19.1, Q26.1, Q29.1, Q29.3
PCF4, 4.92 ‘Sanitation facilities’ Q11.1, Q12.1, Q16.2
PCF5, 4.46 ‘Packaging’ Q24.1, Q28.1, Q28.2
PCF6, 3.62 ‘Deviation control’ Q30.1, Q30.2, Q30.3

PCF1 ¼ 0.258  Q21.1 þ 0.145  Q22.1 þ 0.304  Q22.2 þ 0.146  Q23.1 þ 0.203  Q23.2 þ 0.16  Q25.1 þ 0.117  Q27.1 þ 0.098  Q30.3.
PCF2 ¼ 0.21  Q10.1 þ 0.142  Q11.2 þ 0.232  Q14.1 þ 0.127  Q15.1 þ 0.171  Q15.2 þ 0.153  Q16.1 þ 0.136  Q17.1 þ 0.18  Q18.1 þ 0.165  Q20.1.
PCF3 ¼ 0.138  Q15.2 þ 0.132  Q19.1 þ 0.171  Q26.1 þ 0.263  Q29.1 þ 0.19  Q23.3.
PCF4 ¼ 0.291  Q11.1 þ 0.336  Q12.1 þ 0.157  Q16.2.
PCF5 ¼ 0.205/Q24.1 þ 0.364  Q28.1 þ 0.4  Q28.2.
PCF6 ¼ 0175  Q30.1 þ 0.388  Q30.2 þ 0.218  Q30.3.
P.G. Tzamalis et al. / Food Control 63 (2016) 179e186 185

74 100 2 3 4
72 73 5
71 6
70 90 7
69 8
68 80 9
67 10
66 70 11
65 12
64 13
63 50 14
62 40 15
61 30 16
60 17
59 18
58 19
57 0 20
56 21
55 22
54 23
53 24
52 25
51 26
50 27
49 28
48 29
47 30
46 31
45 32
44 33
43 34
42 41 35
40 39 38 37 36


Fig. 3. Scores of the SMEs (codes 1e75) based on the loadings of the 6 extracted principal factors. SME, Micro, small and medium-sized enterprises participated in the study. PCF1,
‘shelf life validation’; PCF2, ‘prerequisites’; PCF3, ‘product labeling’; PCF4, ‘sanitation facilities’; PCF5, ‘packaging’; and PCF6 ‘deviation control’.

(2013) develop an instrument for measuring the effectiveness of methodology could be used as an assessment tool for internal and
the HACCP system in relation to food safety targets. The proposed external auditing purposes, as well as a benchmarking tool for or-
tool focuses on SMEs in fresh-cut produce sector and its advantages ganizations to determine whether the differences are significant
are the short time for performance assessment of the FSQMSs, as and relevant to them, and so they can make a more informed de-
well its specific approach in the above sector. cision in order to improve their performance in FSQMSs.
In the literature several assessment tools have been proposed Concerning the rather generic instruments focusing on the
that can be used to examine and assess established FSQMS in the implementation and assessment of HACCP principles in food in-
fresh produce sector (Jacxsens et al., 2009; Kirezieva et al. 2013). dustry (Mortimore, 2000; Domenech et al., 2008; Wilkinson and
The tool that was developed in this study, gathers managerial el- Wheelock, 2004; Wallace et al., 2005) this study developed a spe-
ements from the organization operation, as well as elements from cific tool for the assessment of FSQMS performance. This tool will
the primary production, critical control points during the process, help the SMEs to get insights into the strong and weak parts of its
and the basic good hygiene conditions and practices (prerequisites). current FSQMS, which will be used as a basis for the development
The majority of organizations in the fresh-cut produce sector of possible interventions to improve systems in SMEs. These in-
have implemented a FSQMS as their trade licence in the market- terventions will also provide SMEs with advantages to export their
place. An issue that many organizations face is the assessment of products in international markets. Apart from identifying the bot-
the performance of the management systems. The common solu- tlenecks and opportunities associated with the current FSQMS, it
tion is the certification audits (third party) as their only means of may result into the development of food safety policy strategies
measuring performance of FSQMS. Critics contend that while with the aim of improving the quality assurance and quality control
external audits and inspections can be a valuable tool to help systems for the fresh produce sector, something that will also
ensure safe food, such activities represent only a snapshot in time benefit the markets and consumers.
(Powell et al., 2013). According to Nanyunja et al. (2015) farms that
embrace food safety standard certification are in a position to 5. Conclusions
implement their FSMS at a more mature level than noncertified
farms. On the other hand, various authors point out that unsuitable The proposed tool and overall methodology can be used by a
FSQMS result in the prevalence of food-borne outbreaks worldwide food organisation as a tool (i) to assess the degree to which the
(Luning et al., 2008; Van der Spiegel, 2004). The proposed QFSMS is performed, (ii) to help top management or the quality
186 P.G. Tzamalis et al. / Food Control 63 (2016) 179e186

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Kafetzopoulos, D., Psomas, E., & Kafetzopoulos, P. (2013). Measuring the effective-
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