Since 1836, quality assurance has been a major priority at every level of Raffinerie Tirlemontoise. It is fully applied to all the processes and in all the departments. Because we believe in only the best quality. Whether for the beets we use, or the sugar we produce.
From the field to the sugar factory
The first stage in the quality assurance process is the sowing of the beets by our growers. The experienced agronomists of Raffinerie Tirlemontoise advise the growers about which variety to choose, the right sowing conditions, the growth of the beets and the use of fertilisers and pesticides. Because they have been working so closely together for years, Raffinerie Tirlemontoise can guarantee that the growers comply with all the regulations and legislations. The outcome is a qualitative sugar beet.
The IRBAB, a non-profit association that works hard towards improving beet quality (Institut Royal Belge pour l'Amélioration de la Betterave ASBL), also makes a substantial contribution to this. This institute certifies the new varieties. The growers may only use beet seed that was certified by this body.
As soon as the beets arrive in the factories, various parameters are checked. Only beets that fulfil the highest quality requirements are accepted and then processed into sugar, molasses and animal feed (mainly pulp).
Quality control throughout the production process
Lab analyses are conducted at every stage of the production process for purposes of process follow-up and quality control. The Central Laboratory for Sugar Technology uses monitoring plans to schedule these analyses. This allows us to obtain the same high product standard in all our plants. The lab is led by a sugar technologist, who has years of experience in the industry and is even a member of ICUMSA (International Commission for Uniform Methods of Sugar Analysis). He helps develop and optimise new analysis methods.
We also have specialised laboratories in the plants where our specialities (fondants, pearl sugar, candy sugar and so on) are produced that ensure that the highest quality requirements are also met here.
In addition to this, Raffinerie Tirlemontoise also has a central lab (CRDS – Central Research & Development Service), which specialises in research and development. Here very specific analyses, such as HPLC and GCMS, are conducted on request. They are also in charge of the microbiological monitoring of our products.
Central quality control
The central quality department in Tienen, which works closely with our parent company Südzucker, controls the quality system. The aim is to apply the same standards across borders. The system consists of procedures, instructions and policy statements which have an impact on the food safety of the finished products and which relate to quality throughout the organisation.
Every year certification audits, IFS Food (International Featured Standards Food) or BRC (British Retail Consortium) for food, and GMP (Good Manufacturing Practices) for animal feed, are conducted. The Federal Agency for the Safety of the Food Chain also conducts a validation audit in all our plants.
Our quality system is based on a norm (IFS/BRC/GMP) as well as on European and national legislation, including the HACCP principles (Hazard Analysis & Critical Control Points).
Support to the various departments
Obviously the various production departments work closely together. We strive to continuously improve our processes by identifying opportunities for improvement during the internal audits and by regularly raising awareness among our production workers and providing training.
The central quality service provides support to the sales department to achieve maximum customer satisfaction. They work together developing specifications, deal with specific customer requests and process complaints.
The purchasing department takes into account the many quality and food safety requirements. As a result there is a continuous interaction between the purchasing department and the quality department, for the approval and assessment of suppliers and for dealing with complaints about suppliers.
At Raffinerie Tirlemontoise quality is a major priority. From the beet to the finished product. That is why we work with a top-class quality control system which is continuously improved.