Five food safety questions to ask

By Andrew Thomson, Director, Think ST Solutions
Monday, 12 September, 2022

Five food safety questions to ask

Food safety management requires monitoring and supervision at a senior corporate level. If you are leading a food service operation at a hospital, aged care facility or leading a catering operation, then you would be familiar with the need to have a Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP)-based food safety management system and a solid understanding of food law requirements. As you may already be aware, you are ultimately responsible for food safety management — whether you provide an in-house or a contracted out service.

The organisational systems should be supported with the appropriate policies and procedures as part of a risk-based approach to food safety management. Food safety management requires commitment from management, including the chief executive officer. This commitment should be visible and active with a food safety management policy. Your senior managers should be a reliable source of food safety information for you and your customers; keep the trust of food regulators and accreditation assessors; earn the confidence of clients; and be a catalyst to improve food safety across the organisation.

Food handling staff and management need to be accountable for implementing the food safety policies and procedures, and should seek continuous improvement in these areas.

Food safety management is an area of operational risk which is often overlooked, resulting from inadequate or failed internal processes, people and systems or from external events. Failure to appropriately manage operational risk can expose organisations to significant losses.

An effective monitoring and reporting process is essential for adequately managing operational risk. There should be timely reporting of key information to senior management and the board of directors to support proactive management of risks.

As a chief executive:

  • How do you assure yourself the food safety management system has been fully implemented across the organisation?
  • Have all food safety risks been identified, assessed and appropriate mitigation strategies put in place? How are you informed of this?
  • What reporting processes are in place to inform you of the results (and actions taken) from internal and external audits and comprehensive senior management reviews to ensure the food safety management system is fit for purpose?
  • How are you assured that the identification of the root cause of non-conformities is effectively addressed and has been endorsed by senior management?
  • Have you received internal management reports on the effectiveness or return on investment with food safety training?

Like any risk management process, implementing a robust food safety management system and follow-through requires the effort of a team to be successful. Food safety management is a fundamental part of an organisation’s risk management strategy.

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