Quality assurance of stores

Since 2009 ICA stores in Sweden have applied the Swedish standard for food handling in stores. ICA Sweden played a decisive role in developing what became the world’s first third-party food safety standard for grocery retail stores. In Sweden, the routines are being introduced in stores under the leadership of ICA quality coaches. In total, around 1,000 (1,000) stores have implemented the standard and 342 (339) have been audited and certified by an external inspection body.

In 2013 work started on updating the Swedish standard for food handling in stores, with the aim of adapting the standard to make it easier to apply in stores operating as chains. For example, it will make it easier for ICA Norway and Rimi Baltic – where operations are mainly carried on as store chains – to work according to equivalent guidelines on food safety. The update is based partly on the draft international standard produced by a working group within ICA in 2012.

ICA Sweden was first in the industry to introduce quality coaches to support the stores. This support is greatly appreciated, and about 900 (800) stores in Sweden are currently using this service from ICA.

ICA's quality coaches carry out an annual internal audit of practically all ICA stores. To make this as impartial as possible, the audit is carried out by a different quality coach than the coach providing regular support. This also allows knowledge to be transferred since the quality coaches switch stores between them. The audit is performed using the same template as that used by the external auditors. The internal audit is an extensive review of all food handling by the store and takes around 6 hours per store. This means that ICA has invested around 8,000 hours in auditing ICA stores.

The stores are assisted by IDE2, ICA’s digital tool for self-checks. The tool makes it easier for the individual store to make sure that products are being handled in accordance with the Swedish Food Act. In Sweden, around 1,225 (1,150) ICA stores are now using the system on a daily basis to support safe food handling. IDE2 is one of ICA’s largest IT systems, with more than 14,300 (12,500) users.

In recent years work has been carried out in Norway to adapt the stores’ quality systems to the Swedish standard. By the end of 2013 a total of 365 (175) ICA and Rimi stores had introduced the method based on the Swedish standard for food handling in stores, including all ICA Supermarked stores. The work is performed through coaching and training.

Following reorganisation of ICA Norway’s quality department in summer 2013, Anticimex will take over the role of the quality coaches. The stores can then purchase the service from Anticimex, who will continue the work to support stores and perform store audits, starting in 2014.

Rimi Baltic conducts regular internal audits to evaluate how well its stores comply with the quality standard. Results vary between countries and store formats. The results of the audits will be analyzed and used as a basis for the improvement work in the area of quality in the stores in 2014.

Rimi in Latvia carried out training in August and September for store personnel who work with fresh foods. A total of 121 people participated. The training included questions on traceability, temperature control and hygiene, and also how groups can use things like checklists and division of responsibility.

Checking up on checks

During 2013 a number of undercover purchases were made in Swedish ICA stores. Undercover purchases are intended to verify that cashiers check the identification of customers who are buying products with an age limit, such as tobacco and beer. They also serve as continued training and as a reminder. More frequent undercover purchases increases attention and improves results. Undercover purchasers buy products from the following product groups: beer, tobacco, non-prescription medicines and lottery. A total of 56,935 (54,440) undercover purchases from these product groups were made during the year, of which 84% (83%) were passed successfully.

Quality certified ICA-stores and stores that have implemented the Swedish standard for food handling in stores, ICA Sweden, number
  2013 2012 2011
Certified 342 339 326
Implemented the standard 1,027 1,045 1,068