Isn’t it just typical? A food safety and quality management system is in place with an established monitoring program. It has been subject to many inspections and audits, each of which has been successful. Everything is running like clockwork to avoid any product safety or quality issues that could result in complaints, product withdrawals or product recalls. And then something unexpected happens to disrupt all this careful planning.
by AIB International
Something like the coronavirus pandemic changes everything – not only overnight, but also from day-to-day. Unfortunately, this has made the hard work of ensuring food safety even more difficult than it regularly is. To address these changes and mitigate their impacts, a strong monitoring and inspection process is critical.
The Value of Monitoring
Risks of food safety and quality issues are present every hour of every day; the risk does not take time off or make allowances for pandemics. This makes monitoring in the food industry essential to ensure that food produced is both food-safe and suitable for consumption. Without monitoring, how can an operation possibly be confident in its processes or prove to any authorities or external auditors that compliance obligations are being met? An effective monitoring system can demonstrate that food safety hazards are under control, procedures have been correctly implemented and that the facility is adhering to food safety compliance requirements. Effective monitoring can also lead to better efficiencies, less waste and increased consumer confidence in the product.
As a first step, training food handlers in monitoring procedures is essential, ensuring that they serve as the frontline eyes and ears of the operation. Data can then serve as a real-time indication that a procedure as defined within the company’s food safety and quality program has been carried out as required. Monitoring is also a requirement in food safety legislation globally and an essential requirement of all GFSI recognized certification programs. The food safety status of food production cannot be supported in the absence of food safety monitoring.
Support the Team
During the pandemic, staffing disruption has been identified as a significant issue for many operations. Not only may production activities be disturbed, but also established monitoring systems could be disrupted. A regular staff member may have significant experience from doing the job for a considerable time. If they are either absent or necessarily deployed to other duties, another staff member will be required to deputize. This replacement will probably not have the same experience or knowledge.
How can you be assured that this deputy is performing the monitoring effectively and as required to the standard of your operation and the regular staffer? Even when monitoring is conducted electronically, if the task requires equipment to be used or manually recorded, there is a chance for error. If the assigned deputy has not been trained correctly before taking over these duties, the deputy may not know what to do in the event of a measurement being out of the required parameters, and the data recorded may be inaccurate.
By prioritizing the effective training of any person who performs a particular monitoring task for food safety and quality, they will know what is required and how to complete the task, but also the implications for the product if not completed correctly.
You can read the rest of this article in the March/April Issue of European Baker & Biscuit magazine, which you can access by clicking here.