Managing food safety is critical for any organisation working with food, but just what is a food safety management system and how should you be implementing one?
A food safety management system (FSMS) is a controlled process for managing food safety to ensure that all food that is produced is up to quality standards and safe to consume. This takes into account each and every step from taking deliveries of supplies to shipping out the finished products- which means there must be a defined process for every activity and function. In addition, an FSMS should follow the principles of HACCP and it is each individual organisations’ responsibility to form procedures based on this. A FSMS is required by law in order to comply with food safety regulations.
What is HACCP?
Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) is a set of principles which involve analysing all possible risks relating to food safety and putting controls in place to mitigate them. It should form the basis of all food safety management systems.
Let’s say you’ve developed a line of chocolate chip cookies based on an old family recipe and you’ve launched a company in order to mass produce them. One of the key things you’ll need to do is to create your own food safety management system which follows the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) principles.
There are seven principles you’ll need to consider:
- Identify all potential hazards- for example, the handling of raw ingredients
- Determine the critical control points (CCPs) for each potential hazard- this could be something like a control for checking all fresh ingredients are in date
- Establish critical limits- for example the minimum and maximum refrigeration temperature of chilled ingredients
- Implement procedures for monitoring CCPs- this could be a daily checklist to ensure that the dates of these ingredients have been checked
- Establish corrective actions for CCPs- this is a plan in case something goes wrong with your CCP- for example, having a digital checklist to ensure it cannot get lost or damaged
- Verification procedures- a way of checking that all of your steps so far are working
- Keep records- you’ll need to implement a record keeping system which incorporates all necessary hazards, CCPs, procedures and verification. This could be done using a digital quality management system for ease of use.
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Why is a food safety management system important?
An FSMS is a requirement for manufacturers working with food so that they can evidence they are compliant with food safety legislation and are producing products which are safe to consume. It’s a requirement for the following regulations and laws:
- ISO 22000
- BRC Global Standard
- The Food Safety Act 1990 (UK)
It also provides food manufacturers with the assurance that everything is being managed effectively and safely, including staff and suppliers, and that every possible risk has been thought through and planned for. So, if we return to the example of bringing your chocolate chip cookies to market, it gives you that central place to manage every aspect of creating them. This could include:
- Sourcing suitable packaging
- Highlighting allergens or possible exposure to allergens
- The sourcing of quality ingredients
- Ensuring the method is broken down into exact steps to produce a consistent result each time
- Details of your suppliers credentials and relevant health and safety checks
These are just some of the things you might need to apply the HACCP principles to. The procedures that you put in place will vary from one business to the next, and will be dependent on the type, size and scale of your organisation.
The benefits of a digital food safety management system
Given the scale of the number of CCPs, procedures and records you will need to have, having a digital solution to hold and manage all this will allow you to maintain it in the simplest possible way. It provides secure and easy access to essential documentation, even when you’re on the move; a central place to raise corrective actions or other issues and real-time reporting. This is particularly useful and essential for companies operating in multiple locations, or at a global scale.
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