Setting food safety objectives (FSOs) can be difficult, especially with all of the different categorizations, definitions, and exemptions that may apply to your facility. With so many different regulations and rule subsections, it can be easy to miss a requirement or accidentally construct an insufficient food safety plan. Nonetheless, it is imperative that the proper procedures are implemented and practiced in order to keep your consumers safe and happy. What can you do to bring these two worlds together? Set food safety objectives with HACCP, of course. Here we’ve compiled a basic guide that will help you on your way to managing safety and compliance.
Why Are FSOs Important
Food safety objectives are “the goals … set around producing and providing safe and suitable food to your customers … the building principles that you can build your food safety implementation plans around.”
By maintaining good monitoring practices, food companies can see what tactics are working and where undesired results are occuring. This will aid in controlling critical limits and foreseeing what preventive action should be taken to keep from suffering any food contamination catastrophes. Additionally, precise and careful monitoring and recordkeeping will make it easier to show that your company has been in compliance with HACCP
How Do I Follow HACCP
Good HACCP plans should uphold two standards above all else:
- Attention to Detail – Proper care and equipment must be used to monitor data. This means having employees who will not be distracted and will stay on task, as well as using the right tools to take measurements and record data.
- Personnel Training – Employees should be thoroughly trained before operating equipment on their own. Employers should ensure that employees are familiar with the company’s FSOs and the standard operating procedures of the equipment they will be using.
Though the methods and means of monitoring may change depending on your product, these standards are non-negotiable for food safety. The HACCP plan should include information like the specific method used to take measurements, how often those measurements should be taken, and how the equipment used in measuring is to be maintained and calibrated.
“Monitoring critical limits won’t be the only task an employee has throughout the day, but if they get side tracked and don’t keep up with monitoring…it can cause a company to fall out of compliance with its HACCP plan, which can put them at risk for a recall.”
– Donna Schaffner, Independent HACCP consultant microbiologist and Associate Director of Food Safety, Quality Assurance and Training for Rutgers Food Innovation Center
A good way to help guide your food safety objectives is to set them according to the SMART acronym.
SMART Stands For:
Specific – The plan should be specific for your food business. Instead of trying to warp a general plan to fit your company’s needs, develop your own based on your business’ data to target the areas are in need of improvement.
Measurable – Make sure you can quantify the difference your plan is making. By having a solid numerical target or metric, you will be better able to see what is working and what isn’t.
Achievable – Set short-term, achievable goals that break down the steps to conquer a larger goal.
Realistic – Keeping in mind the Specific and Achievable parts of SMART, make a realistic goal that your company can work towards.
Timely – To help catalyze progress, set a deadline for your company to reach a certain goal or objective.
The SMART categories can help both employers and their employees to keep in mind the most important goals for their company, as well as how to achieve them. The goals can be company-wide or set for individual departments, and reports on company progress towards the SMART goals can be incorporated into weekly or monthly meetings. Here, communication is key in properly conveying the SMART objectives. Updates and objectives should be displayed and shared through bulletins, verbal discussion at staff meetings, and can even be used during personnel training to introduce department-specific objectives to the relevant employees.