Learn from the mistakes of others before it's too late!
I've spent some time reading through the 5,500+ violation notices posted at FDA.gov and found some interesting things about what folks are doing wrong when it comes to passing an FDA compliance check.
While I was hoping that I might find something new -- perhaps some unforeseen angle on how retailers are responding to FDA compliance checks. Instead, much of what I discovered goes back to what We Card has been teaching for the past 17 years.
NEVER ASSUME SOMEONE IS "OLD ENOUGH"
In the case of retailer "Bob", whose store was found to have TWO violations and fined $250 -- not carding under 27 and selling tobacco to a minor -- the retailer's response was fairly straightforward:
Once "Bob" learned of the violation, he responded to FDA saying that he discussed with employees what they need to do from now on or else. This wasn't training, it was telling. It wasn't role-playing; it was scaring. So our first rule, train thoroughly -- prepare not scare, wasn't followed. And our second, test to make sure your employees are doing what you've trained them to do (as in mystery shopping) wasn't either. And lastly, reward employees for the proper behavior didn't seem to be part of the plan either.
Get We Card's Guide to Best Practices -- an interactive PDF. To obtain the Guide, please complete our survey first.
Take We Card Online Training -- an Employee Training Course is available with FDA content. Manager Training Course and a Refresher Training Course are available now.
ID Check-Up -- a confidential mystery shopping service to check your store's performance at carding customers.
State Law Summaries Find out about the laws in your state -- including fines and penalties.
State Sign Requirement -- In some states, retailers are fined for not having the legally required signs posted. Find out what the sign looks like in your state.
Minor License Visual Characteristics -- Find out what the minor license in your state looks like.
Company Tobacco Sales Policy and Employee Acknowledgement of Company Policy -- We Card's recommended template you can use to customize for your company.
If you receive a notice of an FDA violation -- hopefully just a warning -- we suggest three immediate steps:
- Make sure your employees are properly trained to ask for and examine an ID and refuse an underage sale. Retrain those who don't perform as desired.
- Verify that your employees are doing what you ask of them by conducting mystery shops.
- Reward your employees for the correct behavior.
It's no surprise that all three of these steps are recommended by FDA.
DON'T THINK THAT YOU ARE "ONE AND DONE"
This could apply to training and retraining, but in this case, I'm talking about failing an FDA compliance check. Repeat after me: "They will be back." FDA's enforcement system involves rechecking every retailer who has been found in violation. Yes, that's right recheck.
|Month 1:||Retailer Y received an FDA Warning Letter after failing an FDA inspection.|
|Month 7:||Retailer Y failed a 2nd FDA inspection with two more violations.|
|Month 11:||FDA filed a $500 Civil Money Penalty against Retailer Y.|
|Month 12:||Retailer Y paid the fine.|
|Month 14:||Retailer Y failed a 3rd FDA inspection with two more violations.|
|Month 18:||FDA files a $2,000 Civil Money Penalty against Retailer Y.|
And so the story goes.
Repeat after me, "They Will Be Back."
I'll keep reading through the notices and update you on things I learn. In the meantime, we can't stress any more strongly that a trained-and-prepared employee is one that will save your business time and money, keep you in compliance with the law while doing the right thing in preventing tobacco and restricted product sales to minors.
The We Card Program, Inc.
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