Step 1 - Document the Food Safety Policy
Your senior management needs to be involved in compiling the food safety policy. Writing down your intention to produce safe, legally compliant, authentic products that conform to customers specifications will demonstrate your intention.
What else should be included in your food safety policy?
Your policy should:
- Include your commitment to implementing a food safety culture strategy that will support the above objectives
- Describe how your company will ensure effective internal and external communication regarding food safety
- Include a commitment towards continual improvement of your food safety system
How long should a policy statement be?
There are no rules to the length, but the statement is normally not longer than a page.
What is meant by “authentic”?
Step 2: Sign the Food Safety Policy
Communicating the policy through various channels across the site will lay the foundation for your food safety programme.
How can Management Communicate the Food Safety Policy?
- Training staff on the policy during induction training or annual refresher training
- Displaying the policy in the appropriate languages on the notice boards
- Providing access to the policy on the company intranet
- Providing controlled hard copies in food safety files available to staff in meeting rooms
Step 4: Implement the Food Safety Policy
Writing it down is the easiest part, but actually doing it requires some money and sweat, so unless the commitment is actually visible in “the way you do things” in your food company, you are going to have a hard time convincing anyone, including your staff that you are actually serious about food safety.
How do you implement the food safety policy?
- Allocate the required financial and human resources to implement your food safety goals as well as the requirements of the food safety standard
- Compile an organisational chart or company organogram depicting the titles and names of staff responsible for the management, implementation and maintenance of food safety and quality. The reporting lines for all management on site should be clearly indicated.
- The production management team should be actively engaged in the implementation and management of food safety and quality
- Identify deputies for any of the management on the above organogram in the event of absence of any of the managers.
- Describe the roles and responsibilities for the management of food safety in more detailed Job Descriptions or procedures
- Train management, deputies for management, supervisors and all staff who have a role to play in food safety or quality, on food safety, HACCP and the requirements of the standard as appropriate to their role.
- Have the required technical expertise onboard, either internally or via access to a consultant to assist with the implementation and maintenance the requirements of the standard.
- Have copies of all the required food safety legislation, standards, guidelines, industry codes of practice, scientific and technical developments.
- Have mechanisms in place to stay up to date with any changes to the above through membership of an industry association, subscription to a service provider or regular review of governmental websites containing legislation (DoH, DAFF etc)
- Implement a confidential reporting or whistle-blowing system where staff can anonymously report on hazards or legal / company violations
- Ensure that your senior management attends the opening and closing meetings of the certification and surveillance audits
- Address non-conformances within the agreed timeframe
Step 5: Implement Performance Evalutation Measures
Examples of evaluation processes
- Collate and analyse measuring and monitoring data e.g laboratory results, temperature recordings, key quality indicators, production processes monitoring results, chlorine checks, pH results etc etc and act proactively when trends indicate potential problems and correct non-conformances within reasonable timeframes.
- Conduct daily hygiene and housekeeping inspections
- Implement an internal auditing programme to evaluate how well you are conforming against the requirements of the relevant food safety standard.
- Conduct weekly or monthly food Safety meetings where you review performance against these overall annual objectives or monthly targets in your food safety meetings – keep minutes of these meetings.
- Set clear measurable food safety culture goals for your company in your food safety culture strategy document and review and minute your performance against these objectives in your management review meeting.
- Conduct regular management review meetings (at least one per year), where senior management reviews progress performance against your overall objectives as well the performance against the relevant food safety standard (GFSI Intermediate, ISO 22000 or BRC).
Cover the required agenda items as stipulated by the relevant food safety standard – see clause 1.1.3 of the Global Standard for Food Safety vs 8 or Clause 9.3 of the ISO 22000:2018 standard for agenda requirements.
- The attendees should sign a register
- Keep minutes of the meetings
- Implement action plans resulting from the meetings within the required timeframe
Conclusion - Management Responsibility
Management must be actively engaged in the implementation and maintenance of food safety and quality. This requires an understanding of food safety and the relevant standards and legislation (e.g GFSI Intermediate, Global Standard for Food Safety / ISO 22000 or FSSC 22000), as well as a commitment to implementing and maintaining “values, attitudes and beliefs” that support and uphold the food safety and quality policy and objectives.
The higher the degree of commitment and involvement from senior management in the food safety programme the greater the likelihood of success of the food safety programme.