Goldilocks New Feature
May. 1, 2007

HAYWARD, California – For some people, not everything that glitters is gold. In fact, for the men and women behind Clarmil Manufacturing Corporation, the Filipino-owned production arm of Goldilocks USA, gold is not enough. It’s got to be platinum.

And that’s exactly what Clarmil, the only one of 10 companies in a pool of 6,500 contenders across the United States, got in 2006: the Platinum Audit Award for achieving the highest score in Good Manufacturing Practices/Food Safety Audit.

Needless to say, Clarmil/Goldilocks was the only Filipino firm-candidate for the award.

Moreover, only 10 Platinum Audit Awards is given each year in the country by the food manufacturing audit giant, Silliker, Inc. As the highest and most prestigious recognition, it is presented to companies who excel in audits conducted by Silliker certified auditors every year.

“This Platinum Audit Award, the result of excellent teamwork among people, is a testament to Clarmil’s commitment to food safety, the supreme verification of total quality in the eyes of your customers,” stated Jeanna Kilmer, technical sales manager of Silliker-Northern California.

Silliker, based in Homewood, Illinois, is the leading international network of accredited food testing and consulting laboratories which offers auditing, training, and research services. It maintains laboratories and offices in seven European countries, China, Australia, and Canada.

The company is recognized by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as a major private-sector partner in helping ensure 100 percent safety in the entire food manufacturing chain – from the raw ingredients processing to distribution, and through to the point of sale at the outlets.

Besides platinum, Silliker also gives out silver and gold awards.

Kilmer pointed out that winning the Platinum will always be an elusive and exclusive award. “Having performed countless audits in the past, I certainly am aware of the time and effort Clarmil has put in to get this award,” she said. “In fact, passing the audit is already quite a challenge in itself for all food companies.”

A proud and beaming Mary-Ann Ortiz-Luis, Clarmil president, accepted the award in a luncheon ceremony she hosted May 10 for the entire production staff and FilAm media at the company’s plant.

In her acceptance remarks, Ortiz-Luis applauded Clarmil’s multi-ethnic staff for pouring their best into winning the Platinum. “This is everybody’s award!” she exclaimed, holding aloft the crystal statuette amid cheers from the staff.

According to Ortiz-Luis, Clarmil has been a consistent gold awardee the past 10 years. “I guess we even improved on the perfect job we’ve already been doing, thus enabling us to achieve a near-perfect score in last year’s audit,” she told Philippine News.

With a staff complement of around 150, Clarmil largely produces Filipino products for Goldilocks’ 18 stores in California and one in Las Vegas, Nevada. Lately, however, according to the executive, the plant has been toll-manufacturing for small firms which distribute the products under their own brands.

The official pointed out that Clarmil is purely a manufacturing concern and is not in any way engaged in retail sales. “What hurts us is when we are compared to small, start-up operations …; usually, businesses that manufacture and sell on retail at the same time.”

Clarmil has two main production departments: bakery and food processing. The latter uses meat (pork, beef, chicken), which is inspected everyday by USDA for safety and quality.

With or without USDA inspection, Ortiz-Luis emphasized, the plant has instituted stringent safety and quality assurance measures beginning with the selection of all raw materials.

Ingredients that are nearing the expiry dates, for instance, are discarded. Hygiene and sanitation rules are strictly enforced, explaining the totally aseptic physical environment within the plant. Employees’ gowns and hairnets are color-coded; people working in the Raw section, wearing specific-color gowns and hairnets are off-limits in the Cooked Food department.

“But the bulk of our investment in the food safety assurance has gone into the machines we use,” she said.

Clarmil has long acquired ‘washable machines,’ in keeping with USDA standards and the trend in worldwide food manufacturing.

“Simply put, these are machines whose parts can be dismantled and thoroughly washed in the sink,” she explained, adding that Goldilocks Philippines likewise uses this type of production equipment.

“In fact, the Philippine operations of Goldilocks are more advanced,” she added, “and their Quality Assurance department is far larger than ours here.”

Ortiz-Luis admitted that the bigger challenge of maintaining the ‘platinum standards’ lies ahead, but Clarmil is unfazed. There will always be room for improvement, she assured, alongside “more surveillance, more audits, and more new trends and developments in our industry with which we need to keep abreast.”

The pronouncement sits well with a company dictum, a tradition if you will: Clarmil not only wants to delight Goldilocks customers, but to assure them every food item the store sells has passed the ultimate standards in food safety.