“New Quality Control Emphasis for ‘Deseret’ Foods,” Ensign, June 1979, 70–71
A lamb without blemish was the sacrifice required of the ancient Israelites (see Ex. 12:5). It was to be the best of the flock, not “blind, or broken, or maimed, or having a wen, or scurvy, or scabbed. … Ye shall not offer unto the Lord that which is bruised, or crushed, or broken, or cut.” (Lev. 22:22–23.) The Savior indicated that the same standards of quality applied as much to our offerings unto the needy as unto the Lord: “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me” (Matt. 25:40).
For this reason, high quality is still sought in today’s Church welfare projects. Although quality control checks have always been done on these projects, careful screening and inspection is now being emphasized more than ever.
“Good quality is never an accident,” said Bishop J. Richard Clarke of the Presiding Bishopric; “it is always the result of high intention and sincere effort” (Ensign, Nov. 1978, p. 82).
Quality control ensures that food produced for the needy and distributed under the “Deseret” label be “biologically safe, palatable, high in nutrition, with a maximum shelf life, [comply] with regulatory health laws, and [be] pleasing to the Lord” (A New Dimension, Welfare Services filmstrip).
With these goals in mind, the Welfare Services Department has outlined specific guidelines for products from Church projects. Before products are ever considered for processing, they are inspected. Every product must meet the standards or be rejected.
“We instruct our Welfare Services coordinators to ensure that grades and standards are clearly stated and understood by production units (stakes) at the time production commitments are made,” says Dennis R. Lifferth, manager of Product Coordination and Planning. “The published standards of quality should be strictly honored.”
Items meeting the standards are sent to canneries where, after processing, they are inspected again. The Ezra Taft Benson Agricultural and Food Institute at Brigham Young University has provided sanitation and equipment guidelines for the canneries.
Local members are called to serve as the quality control team for each cannery. After receiving training in sanitation and canning processes, a team member is assigned to instruct volunteer workers and inspect the whole process during every shift. A team member is on duty whenever a group is working on a project.
According to Frayne Williams, supervisor of Church canneries, every cannery has a quality control lab. The team member inspects selected cans from every batch to be sure they meet product standards. Samples from every batch are also sent to the Benson Institute for a second inspection.
“We always meet or exceed the approved standards,” says Brother Williams, “or we just won’t distribute the product.”
And if a later inspection turns up a below-standard item—after its distribution? The canneries can speedily trace and recall the goods: identification numbers on each can and case give the cannery, product, and batch number history. But recall of products is rarely necessary.
Quality control personnel don’t stop with the canning, though; they also monitor storage and distribution. Welfare Services and Benson Institute personnel are developing guidelines for those final stages. “Whether in services or produced goods, by management or volunteer workers, quality control applies to every aspect of welfare services,” said Bishop Clarke. “The quality of commodities received into the storehouse is the final measurement of our production efficiency.” (Ensign, Nov. 1978, p. 82).
And President Spencer W. Kimball has summarized the Church’s quality control aims: “[We should] be pleased to serve a meal of our products to the Lord, were it … our privilege to have him visit any one of our storehouses” (Quoted by Bishop Clarke, Ensign Nov. 1978, p. 82).