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Problem with Corrective Action for Flavor / Fragrance related Customer Returns

Moncia

Quite Involved in Discussions
#1
Hi All

I have a dilemma and no idea how to deal with it.
We have two non-conformances, two returns from the same customer
Both are based on the Odor (subjective). We have smelled both products (retains we had in stock and the material the customer returned) and cannot pick the off notes the customer complains about. Pretty much every one at work smelled the samples no one could pick up what the customer did.

So now I have to do two NC reports, corrective actions, but how do you do root cause investigation, corrective action if there is nothing wrong with the product. The physical analyses are within the specs. They are good.

Smell is very objective, every person smells differently. What do you do in that case?
Does anyone here work in flavor / fragrances, or have had similar scenario? How to answer those NC reports?

Thank you all
 
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sowmya

Involved - Posts
#2
Problem with Corrective Action

Can you provide some more data? What is the material you are shipping? What is the transportation mode? Where is your customer located? How they found the odor? Do you have any office at customer place? If yes, can you send somebody to understand the problem? Did you talk to customer for understanding the problem?
 
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Moncia

Quite Involved in Discussions
#3
Re: Problem with Corrective Action

HI

thank you for your reply

the product is a chemical - Methyl Anthranilate, used as flavor or fragrance agent
its odor is characterized as sweet, fruity, grape like
it is transported in metal cane with chemical resistant lining
the off odor the consumer complains about it is not a result of faulty packaging material or somethingh that might have happened during transportation- we have analyzed the returns and still the product to us smells just like supposed to - grapes
smell is very subjective - the person who rejected our product is picking something in the odor of our product that we cannot - hence my dilemma with CA report
to us, the product is fine
 

sowmya

Involved - Posts
#4
Hi

I understand your problem. since it is fragrance agent, you need to respond to it. if you can perform any chemical test to prove that your product is good, pl. do and send it to customer. Is the customer is using standard method to check the odor?. how this lot alone rejected by customer?. Without understanding the problem, you cannot do any root cause analysis and provide corrective action. without understanding the problem, how can you fix it?
Sorry. I am from different industry. I have googled and found some related sites. I think there may be some objective way to measure it.

http://www.fivesenses.com/Documents/Library/38 Standard Odor Measure for Air Qual.pdf

http://www.mocontesting.com/measureodor.html
 

Moncia

Quite Involved in Discussions
#5
thank you

we have tested the product and all the analysis are withing the specifications

the specific gravity, refractive index are all what it should be, all within the required range

and the off note they complain it is in the product, we cannot smell it
to us it smells exactly as the retain sample from the last approved by them batch
 
M

Michael T

#6
and the off note they complain it is in the product, we cannot smell it
to us it smells exactly as the retain sample from the last approved by them batch
Hi Moncia...

Have you gone back to your customer and asked them how they detected the "off note"? Do they have any objective measures they can share with you?

I don't envy your situation... subjective criteria are a real challenge to deal with.

Good luck!!!

Michael
 
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S

SteveK

#7
Monica,

Apart from the same physical characteristics indicated and lack of odour reported ? do you conduct any chemical analysis e.g. HPLC, FTIR etc , so you can or cannot detect any ?rogue? spikes in the spectra (cf retained samples)?

Steve
 
T

TShepherd

#8
Hello Monica,

You may be a ground breaker! in your field.

Most of our industries have International Standards to fall back on in order to protect the castle. Even some areas that are subjective areas to the final customer but methods to evaluate have been developed to keep the product within a specific range.

such as...

Surface Finish (how smooth or rough is it)
Surface Texture (over moldens ink pens that have a defined feel)
Light intensity (Auto Lights)
Color/grain match (flooring)
Tone (musical instruments such as guitars, violins...)
Sound levels (Auto exhust systems are tuned)
Taste (you can like or not like a Mcdonalds Burger anywhere in the world)

...and so on

I have never heard of a standard for Olfactory (sense of smell) however there may be - such as bottled water - treated water has a specific odor to it when compared to well water.

I believe your issue may be more related to how to answer your specific Non-conformances as opposed the consistancy of your product.

You may have to take the heat for whatever has transpired so far however as a result perhaps there are some strategic steps you can take to protect yourself in the future.

1 - Determine how the product can be tested to ensure consistancy.
2 - Make sure the process is consistant including transportation, shipping container etc.
3 - Insure your customer agrees to and tests the product in the same way. (this should be part of the purchasing agreement)

Even Dog/Cat food companies have employees that literally taste the product to ensure consistancy and flavor and still you will find some pets that like one better than the other - they are not designed to please all pets.

Your response to the Non-conformancy can be the development of a standard for your product that will reach the most customers.

Good Luck,

Tom:2cents:
 
B

Boingo-boingo

#9
Something smells funny :)

Smell is very objective, every person smells differently. What do you do in that case?
Does anyone here work in flavor / fragrances, or have had similar scenario? How to answer those NC reports?
Despite the fact we've had significant technological developments in this area, such as the Wikipedia reference-linkElectronic nose, this might not be a cost-effective solution for you.

As to possible reasons why your customer rejected the product, while you can't reproduce the problem, have you considered possible environmental variables? For example, would the product exude different scents when at a higher temperature and/or humidity? Your customer site might be in a geography with significant environmental conditions, compared to your production site.

There are many variables and, as you said, there is a degree of subjectivity when we have to deal with senses such as taste (e.g., wine and coffee tasting), smell, even tact. If we could only find a calibrated nose....:tg:

Depending on the economies of each order, you could agree with the customer for them to send a representative to do source inspection at your site, before product gets shipped.
 

Moncia

Quite Involved in Discussions
#10
Hi Moncia...

Have you gone back to your customer and asked them how they detected the "off note"? Do they have any objective measures they can share with you?

I don't envy your situation... subjective criteria are a real challenge to deal with.

Good luck!!!

Michael


Hi Michael

yes, first my boss reached out to them almost two months ago, then I emailed weeks ago, we have not heard back from them yet
 
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