What is Food Safety Management System?
Going into a restaurant, or even while buying that newly launched instant meal, what do you think a consumer is thinking? Perhaps, it would be to check how hygienic the place is, and how well the food is prepared and presented. In the case of a packaged meal, it is quite likely for a customer to turn around the packet and check the nutritional quotient of the ingredients used.
The world that we inhabit right now is increasingly becoming conscious of what we eat and where we eat that from. People with considerable influence have been persistently persuading the masses to stick to diets that are healthy, nutritious, hygienic and more importantly mentions the source of procurement. Insistence is being made on products that are quality conscious. And, this is exactly where the Food Safety Management System (FSMS) comes into play.
Food Safety Management System follows a set of procedures to determine the steps taken by food business operators to ensure quality control and compliance with international standards and regulations set by the state and/or federal government. The purpose of the system is to prevent any health hazards in customers/consumers because of the food products being sold. The extensive process comprises a formal review that begins with food selection and goes on to review the preparation and preservation methods, and the display.
With a series of specifications and procedures, food safety management systems ensure that the final product that reaches the consumers is safe to eat and won't have health hazards. It's a multi-fold process that requires verifications, documentation and expert reviews at every stage.
As per the guidelines set out by ISO 22000 for food safety management systems, it could be broadly broken down into four segments as follows-
1. Interactive communication- As per the ISO 22000 standards, communication is the key to ascertain that the food is safe from farm to fork. Effective communication recognises potential food safety hazards and ensures that any threat or contamination to food is controlled in time with all protocols intact.
2. System management- A structured and well-defined management is crucial to make sure that a Food Safety Management System is executed properly in any company. That helps in following the procedures of the Food Safety Management System for the benefit of the company, any other party involved, as well as the consumers.
3. Prerequisite programs- The prerequisite programs (PRPs) have a set of programs for contract service providers, vendor approval, allergen management, etc. Each program is extremely important and needs experts or trained individuals/teams to ensure food safety, food hygiene.
4. HACCP principles- A set of seven principles, HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) is a systematic approach to identify, evaluate, and control food safety hazards.
To achieve food safety, each of these element is equally important. It is also important to ensure that trained professionals are overseeing the processing systems of food safety.
Do you need food safety management system?
The Food Safety Management System isn't just one of the basic legal requirements to be in the food industry, but one of the most important ones as well. It is, in fact, one of the most helpful systems in the food industry that warrants safe practices within organizations. The right and effective Food Safety System lets you control and manage food safety and any risk associated to it in your business.
Moreover, a restaurant with a FSMS certification has an advantage to build trust and guarantee safe and hygienic food to customers. Knowing that a business is certified and meets the requirements of the Food Safety Policy as laid out by ISO 22000, customers don't have to worry about the quality of the products.
In the 2006 book, Emerging Foodborne Pathogens, researchers L.G.M.Gorris, J.Bassett J.and M.Membre, noted that the concept of a food safety objective and related targets were proposed to articulate more output oriented targets in an effort by governments to strengthen the link between operational food safety management and the public health goals. "The increased attention for risk-based food control and the advances of mathematical and information technologies have fostered the development of the key quantitative tools that enable the assessment of the impact of foodborne microbial hazards on the health of the population, to evaluate possible interventions to reduce undue risks and to provide clearer guidance for industry," they note in one section of the book.
When you know that the link between food and public health is intricately connected and is a critical control point for a food business, the need for a FSM system becomes even more important. Food that is safe to eat will limit outbreaks of foodborne illnesses.
Moreover, having a FSM system ensures a better market and business growth for a food operator. Other benefits of having an efficient FSM system ensures-
- Lesser food product recalls or returns.
- A trustworthy relationship with customers.
- Makes it easier to get an ISO 22000 certification.
- Compliance with food laws.
Food safety is a critical concern.
Foodborne illness can be prevented with proper planning and adherence to the Food Safety System Management.
Tips and tricks for your food safety management system
Before implementing the FSMS, Food Business Operators (FBO) need to understand the importance of having a safety culture and that takes into cognizance the key elements of Food Safety. Follow the five-step rule-
- Define the process, understand the scope and objectives
- Identify the risks
- Set up a disaster plan or hazard control plan
- Monitor performance and follow prerequisite programmes
- Measure the effectiveness of the FSMS by documenting everything
Define your process
This is the most fundamental need before implementing FSMS is to define your process and understand why Food Safety is needed. A Food Business Operator (FBO) needs to introspect on a couple of pressing questions that is important for safety management-
- What is the process you have implemented for Inventory Management?
- Is the team of staff in your business following Safe Food Management protocols?
- Are you aware of the key people involved in assuring the safety of your Restaurant Inventory?
- Have you been observing the food safety hazards that are going unchecked in your outlet?
- Understand if safe food practices are being followed.
- If protocols to avoid cross contamination during regular pest control are being followed to maintain a proper food hygiene.
- Understand the most common complaints of customers.
- Know if your products have been a cause for any food-borne illness.
- Make a list of the top priorities that need immediate attention.
Identify the risks
Primarily, there are four major food safety hazards-
- Biological- Contamination of food by microorganisms found in air, food, water, animals, as well as the human body.
- Chemical- These hazards are substances that are usually found naturally in food or develop during the food processing.
- Physical- Physical risks are mostly the presence of outside elements like hair, plastic, etc.
- Allergens- This is the most dangerous risk of all because it is mostly unidentified. Usually, it's a human body's immune response to certain proteins present in a food product.
To mitigate each of these risks, a FBO needs to understand the causes that are leading to these risks. A FSM System can identify each of these risks in time and address the issues, in turn dramatically reducing the potential of a foodborne illness.
Food safety is a concern for all businesses, no matter what type of food they sell.
You can’t get away from the idea that you need to be safe in your food handling practices.
Set up a disaster plan
For any FBO, it is imperative to understand any suspected disaster and establish disaster management systems to control them. A potential emergency or an accident can impact food safety severely. A disaster management plan effectively illustrates the methods that can help in planning for, and acting during emergencies or accidents.
The FSMS Emergency Preparedness Response Responsibilities includes-
1. Developing the Emergency Response Plan.
2. Identifying potential food safety risks.
3. Delegating trained supervisors in respective departments to deal with risks.
4. Imparting safety training to each employee in the food chain process to understand and tackle emergency situations.
In the beginning before implementing a FSM System, the size and structure of the organization, and the operational environment have to be taken into account. Once that is out of the way, monitoring the performance of a safety system becomes an easier process. Some of the key elements that needs to be considered to monitor a FSMS's performance includes-
- Mandatory reporting of risks, hazards and accidents.
- Voluntary reporting of any potential hazards.
- Regular safety audits and inspections.
- Automated data generation that records day-to-day performance, analyzes Excel Inventory and manages potential risk situations.
- Day-to-day monitoring of service delivery.
Documenting is the key to understanding any potential threat to food safety in your company. A regular documentation of risks or hazards systematically collates facts and figures. It helps in evaluating acting on any interrelated element that can be causing a food hazard. Corrective actions can be determined. It also makes it easier to coordinate with relevant departments and provide them with well etched out documentation when necessary.
Conclusion to Food Safety System Management
A program like the Food Safety Management System for your business reassures your customers about food safety regulations being followed. They don't have to worry about the quality of products and services being delivered. Implementing the Food Safety Management System ensures the following-
- Food Safety Management System ensures an Inventory Management that is safe and hygienic.
- With the help of trained professionals, like food inspectors, etc, FSMS makes sure that the food is suitable for the general public.
- Given that most compliance protocols dictated by ISO 22000 are already met, FSMS helps getting an ISO 22000 certificate easier for a food business.
- Non-compliance with food safety guidelines can result in legal repercussions, a loss in profitability, and a ruined reputation. By implementing FSMS, all these risks can be mitigated.
Your food safety process is not working.
You’re not sure what the problem is, but you know it’s there.