06 Oct 2022

In an ever-changing world, establishing and maintaining a food safety programme is not enough. Every organisation must strive for continual improvement to stay compliant, relevant, and successful

For most people, the idea of a food safety management system is all encompassing. It represents a comprehensive body of policies, procedures, and processes that when implemented and maintained creates an effective food safety programme. In reality, and most importantly in the eyes of regulators, it is much more than that.

Food safety systems don’t stop evolving as soon as they are implemented. They must continue to morph and change along with business growth and changing dynamics. If a food safety system is not continually evolving and improving to stay effective, it no longer serves the purpose of safeguarding the staff, customers, and consumers.

Six Tips to Improve Your Food Safety Management System

  1. Be prepared

    Aspiring to a mindset of ‘every day is audit day’ prioritises preparation and organisation. Being prepared means documents and records are effectively managed, practices and processes are well established and the food safety plans that are in place are representative of all units and aspects of production. Internal audits are a great way to assess the effectiveness of your food safety management system, identify gaps and resolve them before the audit with your chosen certification body.

  2. Learn and grow from your mistakes

    The results of an audit provide great insight for a proactive facility to progress. Non-conformances and the corrective actions that result from them are opportunities for resolving issues once and for all and putting preventive measures in place where required. A successful audit should not become a breeding ground for complacency. Continuous improvement is an expectation embedded from one audit to the next.

  3. Strive to exceed compliance expectations

    A subtle layer of ‘failure is not an option’ is a useful addition to the previously mentioned ‘every day is audit day’ mindset. Programs must be continuously tested, verified, validated, and challenged. Evidence in the form of documents, records, interviews, and observations, should be collected, collated and provided that objectively details proof of compliance above and beyond the expectations of an auditor.

  4. Embrace the data

    Taking charge of the data at your disposal is an empowering choice that helps you understand risks more deeply and identify improvements more strategically. By comparing and contrasting the data available – including customer complaints, hold logs, environmental results, internal audit scores, pre-operational inspections, and evaluation outcomes – we can put together a comprehensive picture of findings, trends, causes and outcomes. When data like this is embraced and recognised for the tool of discovery it can be, compliance becomes effortless and dare we say it – exciting.

  5. Build strong leadership and an empowered and enthusiastic team

    A perpetually compliant facility is fundamentally dependent on the people who are responsible for its food safety management system at every level. Teams are well trained in their specialty areas, knowledgeable, and accountable to each other for ongoing learning to effectively implement the plan. Leadership encourages and supports the team with an open-door policy and leads by example. Expectations are well managed and an understanding that food safety is everyone’s responsibility is inherent.

  6. Develop a thriving Food Safety Culture

    As defined by the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) food safety culture is the “shared values, beliefs and norms that affect mind-set and behaviour toward food safety in, across and throughout an organisation”. This definition reflects the essential nature of culture being dependent on a group rather than the individual, on values agreed upon and understood by all and a collective conscience towards the bigger picture. Food safety culture is an ever-evolving journey, and the commitment by all to achieve the shared goal is a crucial component of a successful food safety management system.