Is Your FSMS System Smoking?

BY Janice Giddy

I like drawing the analogy between a car engine and a food safety management system. When I open up the bonnet of my car it is normally in the event of an emergency. I am embarrassed to say that I have been driving my car for many years and when the car did not want to start after visiting a client in a rural area, quite far from home the other day, I felt a wave of panic because I actually battled to open the bonnet. I fumbled and almost broke a fingernail but it just stayed clammed shut. It was almost as if the engine wanted to remain concealed from my fuzzy inferior mechanical scrutiny. I could almost hear the engine say “yeah right…” as the bonnet clammed tightly shut and I tried to lift it. It is such a revealing moment and very humbling, since I, the driver, normally in control of the car was now completely at a loss and was forced to actually look at the heart of the vehicle for the first time even though we had been together for  more than eight years. I can confirm that it’s a terrible feeling to peer helplessly at a car engine when you don’t have a clue what you are looking for.


Car engine can be seen as similar to a FSMS (Food Safety Management System). Whilst the main need for a good car engine would be to drive from A to Point B as quickly and as safely as possible, the main driving force of a Food Safety Management System is to ensure that food products meet customers’ food safety and quality requirements. The various engine components are all vital to the smooth running of the engine as each component has a unique role to play in the engine’s operation. Similarly each prerequisite programme or GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice) within the FSMS contributes towards achieving the desired objective which is safe quality products which comply with customer and legal requirements. Each PRP depends on the other and is interconnected to provide an integrated network of preventive measures. The engine works efficiently because each individual component works efficiently.


With the analogy to the car engine, clearly I am not a car mechanic, and am therefore not qualified to fiddle with a car engine. Just lifting the bonnet and staring at the car engine gave me heart palpitations and was a far as I was qualified to go. However it became imperative to have the car serviced by a qualified vehicle mechanic who tested the engine and by process of elimination was able to identify and speedily correct the problem area whilst also checking for any new potential problem areas.


A trained mechanic knows what to look for and is in tune with the engine. Similarly a trained food safety team will also be able to identify and correct problem areas by systematic process of elimination and root cause analysis and to also identify any potential problem areas.


If you are the owner or manager of your food business it will be beneficial to your business to acknowledge the tremendous value of your food safety team. Recognize how vital each and every member is in ensuring that your Food Safety Management engine operates efficiently so that you can focus on driving the business, checking the readings on the dashboard, making informed timeous decisions and ensuring that you are achieving the main business objective, namely; meeting customers’ quality and food safety requirements whilst making a profit. Without this objective as your focus you will end up with a smoking car engine in the heart of the Karoo… and THAT, I do not wish upon any of our readers.

 August 27, 2014
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Food Safety
Janice Giddy

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