Maintaining a strong Food Safety and Quality program
What does it take to have and maintain a strong Food Safety and Quality program? Whether you are implementing one of the Global Food safety schemes or you already have a program in place you may find that commitment wanes from time to time. Perhaps employees aren't completing documentation as diligently as they once did or that extra clutter is entering the plant, making following GMPs more difficult. So what do you do?
Developing a strong food safety culture takes time and commitment from all levels within an organization. At times, especially when people get super busy, some of the things within your food safety program feel like too much... or not as important as getting the product out the door. But, these programs are even more critical when things get super busy. Because this is when the likelihood for error is even greater. And your BRAND is at stake.
There are 3 key criteria that need to always be maintained in order to ensure that you have a solid Food Safety Program.
- Senior Management support and commitment including Sr. Management review.
- Corrective and preventive action.
- Internal audit and reassessment of the HACCP systems.
Sr. Management review
Sr. Management support is critical to the success and maintenance of your food safety program. They must believe in the process fully in order for all employees to understand the importance and relevance of the program. When Sr. Management communicates directly with employees, the importance of food safety should be obvious in their words and actions. Holding Sr. Management review meetings where there is open discussion about the Food Safety objectives and KPIs helps to ensure that these are top-of-mind and are important throughout the entire year, not just at audit time. Some companies have open discussions with all employees about their commitment to food safety. Stressing how it takes everyone to ensure that food remains high quality, safe and meet legal standards.
Internal Audits & Reassessments
Internal audits, which could include the reassessment of the HACCP system, help to ensure that any changes within the program that may have occurred during the year will be caught. For instance, you may have needed to add a new product to your HACCP Plan, but missed identifying all of the hazards with an ingredient. By performing a HACCP system reassessment you would capture this and run it through the decision tree to see whether it impacts the critical control points. Or, upon review of your security program you find out that additional cameras were installed that you hadn't been made aware of. I can't stress the importance of internal audits at ensuring you maintain current against the standard. No matter how good you are, there will always be areas that you can find that can be improved. Internal audits ensure that best practices continue to be used and your customer has the reassurance that your program is working.
Corrective Action and Preventive Actions
Corrective and preventive actions cover off any day-to-day deviations that occur within your program. For instance, the oven stopped during the middle of cooking and then restarted which caused the critical time temperature combination to not be met. Reviewing what happened, performing a food safety assessment and determining appropriate preventive measures will help to ensure this type of issue doesn't happen a second time. By understanding the root cause, for example preventive maintenance wasn't done at a great enough frequency and the oven shut down, a person can ensure that they eliminate similar future issues. For this one, it was a simple change in the frequency. By trending these deviations, you may see patterns which indicate these issues have not yet been fully resolved. Therefore, additional analysis is required to remove these patterns. Corrective action / preventive action reports is an amazing and effective tool to use to detect patterns.
Through the use of corrective / preventive actions, internal audits, and by ensuring that you have ongoing support from your Senior Management team you will be able to maintain and improve your Food Safety and Quality program. FS&RD Consulting can assist you with the development and implementation of these programs, allowing you the ability to improve your program even more! Call or email melissastevenson@fsrdconsulting for your free quote.