BlogCOVID-19 ResourceFood SafetyCrisis Management Plan

July 1, 2020by Felicia Loo

DrinksCrisis Management Plan, as its name, indicated is only being used when there is a crisis. Thus, it is not as commonly reviewed, as compared to when we are facing COVID-19. We can say coronavirus has taken a toll on the importance of food businesses to have crisis management and being able to run through crisis management procedures when you need them the most. A crisis management plan has two purposes:

  1. Consumer protection -to ensure food produced are safe.
  2. An easy and systematic way to navigate through the crisis with steps, primary contacts and responsibilities defined.

Many food businesses are certified with food safety certification recognized by Global Food Safety Initiatives (GFSI), and crisis management is one of the critical elements of the food safety management system. How is COVID-19 fall into place for crisis management?

In this article, we compared the requirements for crisis management for four primary certification programs, FSSC 22000:2018 Version 5 (Clause 8.4 and 9.9), SQF Version 8.1(Clause 2.1.5), BRC Issue 8 (Clause 3.11) and IFS Food Version 6.1 (Clause 5.9).

Table 1 summarizes the similarities and differences for crisis management requirements for the following scheme: FSSC 22000 Version 5, SQF Version 8.1, BRC Issue 8 and IFS Food Version 6.1.

All the certification schemes focused on the situation that can harm or cause food safety risks to the consumer and associate requirements for recall and traceability programs to ensure all products that are affected can be recovered from the market.

Table 1 Summary of the similarities and differences for crisis management requirements for the following scheme: FSSC 22000 Version 5, SQF Version 8.1, BRC Issue 8 and IFS Food Version 6.1.​

Crisis Management Comparison
Crisis Management Comparison

Our recommendations:
Regardless of the certification scheme that you are following, it is important to be able to

  1. Include Product Recall and Withdrawal as part of the consideration for Crisis Management.
  2. Run the crisis management program, especially after office hours.
  3. Have two teams: the Crisis Management Team and Recall Team.
    1. The crisis management team focus on handling crisis -risk identification and assessments
    1. The recall team focuses on handling product recall and ensuring that the reconciliation of the affected materials and products are adequately performed.
  4. Run mock crisis management at least once annually and mock recall at least twice annually.
  5. Mock crisis management should be reviewed for effectiveness, and any identified opportunities for improvement shall be included as part of an annual review of the Crisis Management Program.

Have you run a mock crisis on the current COVID-19? If not, this is a good time to train your crisis management team on crisis management and be sure that you know how to handle COVID-19 incidents such as employees reporting positive COVID-19 cases or employees who have been in contact with individuals with positive COVID-19. Although there are no specific risks associated with the transmission of COVID-9 through food, the virus may still be transmitted through cross-contamination of contaminated surfaces.

All of us have a role to play in maintaining food safety and community safety. A well-prepared company that knows what to do can do it fast and effectively, and hopefully, minimize the safety risk and spread of COVID-19.

by Felicia Loo

Felicia Loo, CFS, is a Certified Food Scientist and registered SQF Consultant. Graduated from the University of British Columbia with a BSc. Food Science along with a minor in Commerce, she is keen to help small and medium food business thrive in their food safety management system (i.e. meeting Return of Investment for investment on food safety program). She has worked with numerous food businesses, including natural health products, bakeries and desserts, fruit juices production, fresh produce, confectionery and many more to develop customized and improved food safety programs. She has worked with different food safety and regulatory schemes such as SQF, ISO 22000, Primus GFS, Organic, Kosher and Health Canada (Natural Health Product).