How to develop a food safety plan
Food business is quite sensitive. Even your slightest mistake can cost your customers their health and you can lose your business! To ensure safety of their customers, food establishments have to follow certain guidelines, like a food safety plan.
As per the US FDA, a food safety plan is a set of primary documents in a preventive controlsfood safety system to identify the food safety hazards , consequently minimizing the risk of foodborne illness or injury. It prescribes the measures and methods to be followed by the operators of the food establishments during manufacturing, processing , packing and holding food.
These guidelines ensure to reduce the risk of any food safety hazard . Food safety plans have to be in written.
Now, who develops food safety plans ? Well, there are preventive controls qualified individual (PCQI) to help you with developing a food safety plan. As per the FDA, a PCQI is a person with the education, training, or experience (or a combination of these) to develop and apply a food safety system .
With everything online these days, the US FDA has come with an e-tool Food Safety Plan Builder (FSPB) to help food establishment owners design their own food safety plans .
As per the US FDA, the Food Safety Plan Builder assists the users through the following-
1. Facility Information
2. Preliminary Steps
3. Good manufacturing practices and prerequisite programs
4. Hazard Analysis & Preventive Controls Determination
5. Process Preventive Controls
6. Food Allergen Preventive Controls
7. Sanitation Preventive Controls
8. Supply-Chain Preventive Controls
9. Recall Plan
10. Reanalysis of Food Safety Plan
11. Food Safety Plan Report
13. Recordkeeping Procedures
14. Important Contacts
15. Supporting Documents
What to include in your food safety plan
A food safety plan requires a set of documents. As per the United States Food And Drug Association (US FDA), the following documents are required-
1. Hazard Analysis
This is the very step of the Food Safety Plan. A hazard analysis of all food ingredients and manufacturing or process steps is conducted.
This helps to identify whether there is any possibility in a food manufacturing or food processing unit of hazard that requires preventive controls. These include natural occurring hazards as well as those done purposely. For instance adulteration of food for higher profit margins.
The hazard analysis has to be written even where there is no hazard that requires preventive control is identified.
In case, the hazard analysis identifies any hazard that needs preventive control in the unit, other documents are required-
a) Preventive Controls to ensure food manufactured or processed is safe for consumption-
Food allergen controls
Supply chain controls
Other controls depending on the nature of the food facility
b) Procedures for monitoring the implementation of these preventive controls depending on the nature of the preventive control and its usage in the food establishment.
c) Corrective action plan for the specific safety hazard
d) Verification procedure appropriate to the nature of the preventive control and its role in food safety system.
You’re cooking dinner and you realize that you forgot to thaw your chicken.
You’ve been making the same meal for weeks, but now your family is sick of it.
Make a plan of action
The Food Safety Plan, in a layman's language, basically includes
1. Identification of safety hazard
2. Preventive Control
3. Corrective actions
- The action plan starts with Hazard Analysis. Hazard Analysis in a HACCP plan (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points ) is slightly different from that in a Food Safety Plan. While in former, hazard analysis covers Biological, Physical and Chemical hazards, the latter identifies Chemical hazards include radiological hazards, economically motivated adulteration, as per the US FDA.
- Once the hazard is identified, the preventive controls are chalked out. The Food Safety Plan uses the risk-based HACCP principles to come up with the preventive controls.
- In an industry that deals with perishable food items, any non-compliance can lead to foodborne illness. Therefore, corrective actions become indispensable here. Corrective steps include immediate action to address variance or violation of critical control limits during an operation.
- Sometimes, a corrective action plan could be as simple as setting the right internal temperature while cooking chicken which is 165 degree Fahrenheit. In case this temperature goes down to 160 degree Fahrenheit, there is a chance that pathogens might survive, making chicken unfit for consumption.
- So, the corrective measure here would be to reprocess the chicken in gentle heat. In case, the corrective measure cannot be applied, the chicken should be disposed off.
Follow these three steps
The food safety plan might sound a bit technical, but can be of great help. Now let us tell you the three easy most steps to ensure healthy kitchen and food. They are-
Wash your hands before and after cooking
- As easy as it sounds, it is a pre-requisite and extremely impactful in assuring Food Safety
- Wash your hands when you enter your kitchen, to make sure outside germs do not infect your food.
- Similarly, wash hands after handling raw meat or poultry because raw meat is vulnerable to pathogens. Washing hands after chopping the raw meat can prevent cross-contamination of food.
- Greens like cabbage or lettuce are vulnerable to bacteria like Salmonella , so it's better to not only wash them thoroughly, but also wash your hands after chopping these veggies.
- It is better to use separate kitchen tools like knives and chopping boards for meat, poultry and greens to avoid cross-contamination, ensuring Food Safety
You’re not sure how to prevent foodborne illness.
You don’t know what the signs of foodborne illness are, you don’t know how to properly wash your hands, and you don’t know how to use a thermometer.
Cook food at the right temperature
Cooking and storage temperatures play an important role in ensuring Food Safety for consumers.
Cooking food at the right temperature helps kill pathogens, making it safe for consumption. Cooking temperature varies from food to food.
- Like for ground meat Minimum cooking temperature is 160F (71.1 C) while for seafood it is 145F (62.8C)
- The US FDA has listed the safe cooking temperatures and storage temperatures for different foods to ensure it is fit for consumption. Follow them for Food Safety .
Keep food properly refrigerated
- Refrigerating food at the right temperature is as important as cooking the food at the correct temperature for Food Safety . So, keep the refrigerator below 40 degree Fahrenheit as it slows down the bacterial growth.
- Do not overstuff your refrigerator for better air circulation.
- Also, do not leave food at room temperature for more than two hours. Refrigerate quickly to ensure Food Safety
- Wrap the food or keep it in covered containers before refrigerating
Foodborne illnesses are a serious problem that can affect anyone.
The best way to prevent foodborne illnesses from occurring is to become familiar with the potential risks and how to avoid them.