Are you a HACCP Lone Ranger?
As a Food Safety Team Leader you can sometimes feel alone in an organization, and that you are the only person in your organization that really cares about Food Safety. It can feel as if you are on a survival island, cut off from the rest of the organization. You can feel as if the world is on your shoulders and can this can leave you feeling pretty stressed and demotivated. Let’s look at some of the reasons why this happens and what you can do to get it right.
When you started compiling your system, did you do it as a team? According to Clause 5.5 of the ISO 22000 standard, top management should appoint a team leader who has the responsibility and authority to perform the following functions:
- Manage a food safety team and organize it’s work
- To ensure relevant training and education of the food safety team members
- To ensure that the food safety management system is established, implemented, maintained and updated
- To report to the organization’s top management on the effectiveness and suitability of the food safety management system
The Food Safety Team Leader is therefore required to have a huge amount of support from Top Management in order to achieve the objective of having an effective Food Safety Management System. The Food Safety Team Leader should therefore have an open communication channel to Top Management to regularly report on the progress of the FSMS. This communication should not wait until a Management Review Meeting, but should take place much more frequently so that Top Management has an accurate picture of how the company is performing pertaining to its food safety objectives. Rather than keeping all of the information to yourself, which will be the reason why you could start to feel isolated later on, make the information available for all of Top Management to access. Communication is key in a FSMS.
Here are number of suggestions as to how you can communicate on progress to Top Management:
1. Set up an intranet which Top Management can access to view the performance data when- ever they wish. Data may include the following graphs:
- Procedures / work instructions compiled per department vs due date
- Number of customer complaints per category per month
- Number of corrective actions / non-conformances / audit findings and progress against due date for close-out
- Training conducted vs training planned per department
- Micro / analytical test results per batch
2. Have a monthly meeting with the Food safety Team where you discuss the implementation progress. Plan and schedule the meetings in advance and make use of an agenda to ensure that all important components are addressed. Keep it short and ensure that items are allocated to responsible persons with due dates per item. Minute the meeting and send the minutes to everyone including Top Management. Save the minutes on the intranet
3. The Team must also use this platform to communicate any potential changes which could have an impact on the FSMS, (see clause 5.6.2 of the ISO 22000 standard for a more detailed list of the changes that should be communicated), some of these will include; New products, raw materials, production systems equipment, new suppliers etc
4. Ensure that the team are trained on Food Safety as well as to how to conduct internal audits and involve the team in the auditing process
5. Schedule a bimonthly meeting with Top Management to discuss progress and to bring their attention to any important items.
Remember that as Food Safety Team Leader you will need to be able to develop the following abilities:
- Manage the Food Safety Team
- Project manage (system implementation)
- Compilation of documents and organization of information
- Communication at all levels in the organisation
- Sharing of the performance of the FSMS across all departments
If you stick to the above you should not end up in a situation where you feel isolated from the rest of the organization. Give it a try, you have nothing to lose. Good luck and let us know how it goes!