When food is provided as a service, whether in a Michelin-Star restaurant or in a care facility, safety standards are assumed as an extension of the kitchen staff’s common sense. Businesses either take up the responsibility of structuring that common sense into food safety program or continue operating without one. The latter has complications as a food safety program allows your business to remain compliant to federal, local, and NSW health and food safety regulations and bylaws.
Not ensuring compliance with a proper food safety program will be in direct violation of these laws, Health inspector standards, and can end up costing the business both legally and financially.
You need a food safety program if you run a licensed food business that serves ready-to-eat foods, food not sold or served in its original packaging, or deals with hazardous foods such as raw and cooked meats, foods containing eggs or nuts, etc.
How to Build a Food Safety Program
The guidelines for building a food safety program align with standards set in the Food Standard 3.2.1 legislation. Every state and territory interprets the governing principles set in this legislation differently.
The Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point or HACCP system provide a more in-depth look at food safety standards by food supervisors in NSW. Combining the HACCP system principles and Standard 3.2.1, your program should include the following:
1. Identification of Food Hazards
To prevent exposing clients and customers to contaminants and hazards that may end up causing an illness or complaint, your program should highlight any and potential hazards. This action needs to be taken for all steps involved in the food prep process. This may include storage, preparation, cooking, heating/reheating, chilling, serving, transportation, etc.
The hazards should identify chemical, microbiological, and physical categories along with any site-specific or food-specific hazards. Be meticulous at this step as the Environmental Health Officer auditing your program will require evidence that all potential hazards have been noted.
2. Controlling the Hazards
Hazard control is an addendum to the first section, detailing how each hazard identified will be mitigated and controlled. From controlling cross-contamination to pest and chemical hazard control, the food safety plan should list the procedures involved.
Since you’ll be required to back up the proposed hazard control tactics in your program, your food safety supervisor should be looking at existing protocols laid out in Standard 3.2.2, peer-reviewed articles, scientific reports, codes of practice, etc.
3. Food Monitoring & Corrective Action
The food safety supervisor should also include monitoring procedures for each critical control point. The section should list who is responsible for observing, inspecting, and tracking each hazard.
For example, you can include that employee XYZ will be responsible for checking the temperature will be doing do three times during the day, noting it down in an excel sheet for record-keeping.
In case a breach occurs at any of these critical control points, the food safety supervisor should lay out corrective measures before an issue arises. The program should include investigation and an immediate action plan along with post-incident assessment and preventative measures.
4. Record Keeping
Maintaining accurate records is essential for ensuring efficient and safe operations. This includes records related to the processes identified in the program such as delivery checklists, temperature, pest inspection, staff training, and program review.
5. Program Review
Once the program has exhaustively reported and recorded each critical control point or hazard along with preventative control and corrective measures, the food safety supervisor should conduct a thorough review that validates everything in the program.
This is also the step where the supervisor should detail review activities taken place at the time. They should also highlight future review activities, the frequency at which they’ll be performed, and any potential incidents that may trigger them.
Ideally, the food safety supervisor should be reviewing and reassessing their food safety program once a year, making adjustments where necessary. Internal inspection and external auditing can be effective in this process.
To oversee the development and enforcement program, you also need someone with a food safety supervisor certificate NSW. They will leverage their food safety acumen to establish a program that mitigates the challenges and repercussions of not having one.
Their expertise and industry and legal understanding of food safety programs will allow you to fulfil the goal of the program i.e. ensuring customer safety and health.
Ian Webbe is the brain behind the Australian Institute of Accreditation, offering food safety expertise through nationally accredited courses. They have years of experience and burgeoning acumen that credits them authority in the field.