Here’s how Quality Engineer Alaa Osseiran led a french fry manufacturer to access new export markets
“Who doesn’t love french fries?” Alaa Osseiran laughs. It’s true, french fries are a comfort food to many. And as the Quality Engineer for Tayyebat – a french fry manufacturer in Adloun of South Lebanon – Alaa believes that comfort food or not, safe food should be a basic right for all. On the surface, this concept may seem straight forward, but Alaa understands that field-to-fork laws, procedures, and systems need to be in place to ensure food handlers meet the standards that people deserve. Alaa also knows that this is not only important for Lebanese consumers, but also for Tayyebat’s ambitions to serve worldwide customers.
Tayyebat launched in the local Lebanese market in 2011. Since then, they have seen substantial growth thanks to its reputation for providing a great product. Currently producing 15,000 tons of frozen french fries and employing over 130 full-time employees, Tayyebat is overcoming the hardships of the global COVID-19 pandemic and Lebanon’s current economic crisis. They even have additional plans to grow. With support from three food safety experts through the USAID Farmer-to-Farmer Food Safety program (F2F FSQ), Tayyebat has recently been able to forge new market access opportunities in export markets. This is thanks also in part to their investment of $32,000 to upgrade its food safety systems to be compliant with internationally recognized food safety certificates.
Alaa Osseiran, Tayyebat Quality Engineer inspecting the line of production
Though this Farmer-to-Farmer program, implementer Land O’Lakes Venture37 facilitates volunteer assignments to agribusinesses like Tayyebat in Lebanon, Egypt and Bangladesh – three countries that face considerable food safety and quality challenges. F2F FSQ uses the Global Markets Program (GMaP), a program created by the Global Food Safety Initiative as a key tool to assess primary production and processing agribusinesses and evaluate their current FSQ practices and identify areas in which to focus volunteer technical assistance to fill their food safety gaps.
Land O’Lakes Venture37 often sources volunteers from corporate affiliate Land O’Lakes, Inc. – a $15 billion agribusiness with a team of over 70 experts who ensure food safety and quality standards are met across a network of several hundred manufacturing facilities, distribution centers and global suppliers. One said expert is Evie Severyn, Senior Quality Assurance Manager. In August 2019, Evie volunteered with Tayyebat, working with Alaa to audit the business using the GMaP assessment tool and provide a list of recommendations for Hazard and Critical Control Points (HACCP) and a compliant traceability system, including calibrating metal detectors and other equipment, improving cleaning procedures, and creating new packaging for products to reduce cross contamination.
“Prior to Farmer-to-Farmer’s volunteer support, our facility was lacking knowledge of an efficient farm-to-fork traceability system,” says Alaa. “Traceability is important to know how our ingredients are transported, stored and manufactured from farm-to-fork.”
Evie and two other volunteers trained 10 technical staff who manage 124 employees at Tayyebat. Alaa has led implementation of the recommendations by championing changes with leadership, establishing new procedures in the plants and training staff about the importance of these new standards. As a result, Tayyebat has passed the necessary audits and international market requirements for quality and exported more than 5,000 tons of french fries this year to new customers in Iraq, Libya, Angola, Kuwait and Jordan. Tayyebat also has conditional approval – with six months to prepare for a final audit – to supply french fries to a new internationally recognized fast-food chain customer.
Tayyebat’s success showcases the power of volunteer expertise combined with committed leadership and a business partner willing to make needed changes and investment. Alaa looks forward to continuously improving Tayyebat ’s food safety and quality procedures and is particularly excited to get full approval to supply one of the leading fast-food chains in Lebanon. As a citizen of a country known for its food and hospitality, Alaa is proud to be contributing to improved Lebanese culture of food safety and quality.
The Farmer-to-Farmer Food Safety and Quality Program works to increase productivity and proﬁtability in the agriculture sectors to address the important issues of food safety and quality with highly qualiﬁed volunteers. Volunteers assist and train others on good agricultural, veterinary and manufacturing practices in order to improve the local food safety protocols and quality assurance systems from “ﬁeld-to-fork.”
Since 1987, Land O’Lakes Venture37 has sent more than 1,400 U.S. highly qualiﬁed volunteers — including 166 of our aﬃliate Land O’Lakes, Inc. staﬀ and cooperative members — on assignments in 27 countries. As a quality-driven food company, Land O’Lakes, Inc. is uniquely positioned to drive improvements in food safety and quality by oﬀering a broad range of agricultural technical expertise.