The Art of Getting Staff to Help with HACCP and Food Safety Program

Many food manufacturing facilities have challenges complying with food safety regulations. One way to ensure compliance with food safety regulations is to have an effective and working HACCP and food safety program. This blog will discuss food safety fundamentals, including creating and implementing a HACCP plan and getting employees on board so that you can have food operations focusing on building and maintaining the food safety culture.

1. Fundamentals of food safety –HACCP and Food Safety Program

The default questions that we often teach our staff to respond to a food safety auditor are what is GMP? and what are some examples of GMP programs?

It shows the fundamentals of a food safety program -the GMP or Good Manufacturing Practices. I often define GMP as the best collective practices in the food industry that can help prevent or mitigate food-borne illnesses.

GMP is the first layer of setting up good food safety practices. Examples of GMP are handwashing practices, receiving at 4 °C for cooler ingredients and -18 °C for frozen ingredients, cleaning and sanitation of equipment and many more.

Many of us have heard of HACCP. Sometimes, spelled HACCP as HAACP or HACPP unintentionally. We must understand the “behind the scene” within the HACCP process to understand HACCP. When you fully understand the fundamental of HACCP, then you will be able to get the concept of HACCP and spell HACCP correctly.

stands for “ Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point” and is a systematic approach designed to identify hazards and identify critical steps that we must take to minimize or mitigate identified hazards. We use hazard analysis to determine whether the steps are critical. We implement monitoring and verification procedures to control the hazards when we identify the critical steps.

A quick check for the HACCP plan:

Too many CCPs

If you have many Critical Control Points (CCP) in your food safety plan, then the person drafting the CCP is not doing a good job identifying the hazards. When you look at the old HACCP plan example, there are multiple Critical Control Points. Nowadays, we can control and reduce the amount of CCPs to focus on the necessary CCPs we need in our processes.

Instead, we can use our pre-requisites programs to manage non-critical processes and/or materials. In my early days of university, we call pre-requisite programs the building blocks for a HACCP plan. It is still true today. Our SFPM Consultants are trained to build our HACCP plan with minimal CCP points and focus on setting up building blocks (GMP and pre-requisite programs) for our clients.

Pre-requisite programs can be established using Standard Operating Procedures or forms or logs for record keeping. Download a copy of the SOP here to get started.

You must ensure a strong pre-requisite program to support your HACCP plan. Without a stable pre-requisite program, your HACCP plan will be unstable.

2. Building a Working Food Safety Program

We often joke in the food industry that our HACCP plan and procedures are collecting dust on the shelves. Yes, we work with piles of paperwork. HACCP plans and procedures must not be kept on the shelves and presented just for an audit.

HACCP plans and procedures should be living documents and processes. A strong food safety program helps reduce operational issues and wastage and protects food companies from potential lawsuits. Think of food insurance that continues to reinvest themselves but more, they also help generate loss revenue from product wastage or process deviations.

3. Basic Food Safety Training

It is also important to note that employee onboarding training is very important to ensure continuity and standardization of how your processes and food safety processes run smoothly and efficiently.

All production and packaging staff must undergo basic training, which informs him/her of their roles, GMP training and food safety processes, at minimum.

Do you need accredited HACCP training?

All employees working with CCPs must be trained to manage the critical point in the CCP. This particular training can be done without external resources.

You only need to be accredited with HACCP training if you are the HACCP Coordinator and SQF Practitioner. Your food safety teams, which typically include your operational teams, can be trained internally for HACCP and do not need to go through the 16 hours of training.

Worry about your HACCP training?

We have short training courses dedicated to your HACCP team -that go into the core of HACCP processes -inquire about our ready-to-use training program or build customized HACCP training for your team. I am a certified HACCP trainer that can help develop HACCP training programs at an affordable cost for you and your team.

Many benefits are associated with professionalizing your food safety efforts through employee education: improved product quality; enhanced customer trust; increased efficiency; reduced liability, and decreased environmental impact.

You can also set up regular training sessions or briefings tailored specifically for your workplace.

4. Modifying the food safety program to meet the needs of your business

I have heard of the horror stories of a consultant that hands you the binders for all the processes they developed and left the poor food businesses hanging around, wondering how to implement their HACCP programs. Unlike them, we focus on building programs that work. As such, we always recommend our clients ensure that their food safety programs work for them.

An inaccurate SOPs do very little to help your businesses. Modifying your SOPs helps you document the current processes and allow your employees to refer to the right procedures.

Here are a few tips to modify your SOPs:

  1. First, you must identify the users (and the stakeholders) of the SOPs. Once you have an idea of what you’re looking for, start by involving employees in early discussions so that they can provide feedback on their priorities and concerns. This way, everyone understands where each line item falls within the overall goal. You can also ask them to confirm the feasibility or accuracy of the processes. They must agree with the new procedures.
  2. There are no such things as this being the final version of the SOPs. If it doesn’t work, continue to modify them.
  3. Ensure that you communicate the changes and follow up to review the procedures.

5. Getting help from employees

We always say, “Your employees are the key to your food safety program”, Training and educating employees are very important to ensure that they know how to identify potential hazards and follow food safety procedures to help prevent food-borne illnesses. It is also important to note that open communications also allow you to get help from your employees.

Employee involvement should continue throughout every phase of the HACCP processes, including during an audit when corrective actions may be required. Involving employees in development stages helps them better understand how changes will impact their workflows while ensuring accuracy in regulatory compliance.

By contacting employees early, you communicate to them that their thoughts matter and gain respect. They will feel more at ease to share concerns with you.

There are several ways you can reach out to your employees and get them involved in your food safety program:

1. Training.

Ensure your employee training on proper food handling procedures is up-to-date and incorporates relevant content from national guidelines like Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP). This will ensure that everyone understands how to safely handle food in the food manufacturing facility.

2. Social media.

Posting information about your company’s commitment to food safety and encouraging questions or discussion around the topic is a great way to engage employees on an informal level while keeping them informed about critical updates related to their work area.

3. Employee surveys.

By conducting periodic feedback surveys with your staff members so you can better understand their opinions on the workplace environment, nutrition services offered, etc. This data can be used to make necessary improvements without too much interference from management overhead or micromanagement tendencies.

4. Communication channels.

Use all available communication channels – email, voicemail/auto attendant recordings, and social media posts – to communicate the importance of food safety to your production and packaging staff.

My staff still doesn’t listen. They don’t follow GMP -How to get help?

These are common challenges that we work with our clients to build rapport with and work with their staff to identify the actual reasons why they are not listening or not following GMP.

You earn your own rapport and, sometimes, by giving out your respect and openness to listen to their challenges. Our client staff love telling us stories when we walk around the plant for a special reason. We care about them!

Tried that and still have a challenge?? Give us a quick call at 236-513-2488, and we can help you work with your team to understand the best mitigation strategies. Book time with us here

Honouring Food Industry Employees

Many food industry staff work relentlessly to make food for us in a hot/ cold environment and often in a high-demand environment. When we think of food safety implementation, we cannot ignore our unsung heroes that work hard at the frontline. We must consider our production staff as part of our team and seek their thoughts and opinions. We must also do our best to set them up for success in implementing food safety procedures at each stage by providing training, resources and support. By doing so, we are encouraging our team to follow GMP or raise GMP issues.