Have you reviewed your Food Safety Management System recently?

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What is a Food Safety Management System (FSMS)?

A FSMS  is a written record that shows what you actually do in your food business, it is sometimes referred to as HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points). It should include what can go wrong, what you can do about it, the standard you must achieve, what you should check and write down and what you need to do if it isn’t right.

The FSMS that you use must show how food is made safely in your business. Generic plans or templates are widely available e.g. Safer Foods Better Business SFBB   but you must fill in what you actually do in your business.

The alternative is to have a system tailor made and written just for your business so you will be able to control and check the food safety risks every day you are open.

Why it is important to have a FSMS?

In food safety law you must have one and you could have enforcement action taken against you if you don’t. It will also affect your Food Safety Rating if it is not relevant or up to date and you are included in the scheme.

What can go wrong that could cause food to be harmful to customers?

  • Biological – presence and growth of harmful bacteria in food and cross contamination of raw and ready to eat food
  • Chemical – contamination of food with cleaning chemicals, acrylamide etc.
  • Physical – contamination of food with foreign objects such as packaging, glass, metal etc.
  • Allergens – contamination of food with one of the 14 specified allergens.

Where did HACCP originate from and what is it?

HACCP was first developed in the 1960s as part of NASAs space food program to make sure that food for astronauts was safe to eat (globalfoodsafetyresource.com 2020.)

It is now used to develop food safety management systems for all food businesses and is based on the following:

  • Identifying what could go wrong (the hazards)
  • Identifying the most important points where things can go wrong (the critical control points – CCPs)
  • Setting critical limits at each CCP (e.g. cooking temperature/time)
  • Carrying out checks at CCPs to prevent problems occurring (monitoring).
  • Deciding what to do if something goes wrong (corrective action)
  • Proving that your HACCP Plan is working (verification)
  • Keeping records either online or in a paper diary of all of the above (documentation)

What is a HACCP flow chart?

This is a diagram that shows the steps that the food must go through in your business from delivery to service. It looks at the bacterial, chemical, physical and allergen risks at each stage in the production of food:

  • Delivery
  • Chilled Storage
  • Frozen Storage
  • Ambient Storage
  • Defrosting
  • Preparation
  • Cooking
  • Cooling/Freezing
  • Hot holding and service
  • Reheating (Main Kitchen only)
  • Cold Service

It is not usually necessary to make a separate flow chart and HACCP plan for each menu item. However it is a good idea to make a separate HACCP plan for high risk items, such as beef carpaccio or chicken liver pate, because the risks may be different.

An example of a HACCP plan for cooking raw chicken:

  • What can go wrong – growth of harmful bacteria in raw chicken e.g. salmonella or campylobacter
  • What can I do? – raw chicken must be cooked thoroughly to kill any harmful bacteria
  • What standard must I achieve? – cook to 75°C for at least 30 seconds or equivalent (This is called the critical limit and will either be written in legislation or codes of practice.)
  • How can I check?  – check the core temperature of the thickest part of the chicken joint using a calibrated and sanitized probe thermometer. Check time/temperature combinations.
  • What can I do if something goes wrong? – Cook the chicken for longer if it does not reach the critical limit; review cooking method and time, repair or replace faulty equipment, review staff training.

When should I review my FSMS?

Your FSMS should be reviewed regularly particularly when something in your business changes including your menu, how food is made etc.

For example during and after the Covid 19 lockdown many food businesses changed what they did, from sit down restaurants and cafes, to offering takeaway food or producing meals for local communities. See the relevant guidance by clicking on this link https://www.cieh.org/media/4070/covid-19-food-delivery-and-takeaway-guidance.pdf?version=2

If food is being delivered then contamination and temperature control during transport will have to be thought about and added into the existing FSMS.

The FSMS should never become another dusty file on the shelf or just be brought out for inspections because it is a working document. If used regularly can help you manage food safety in your business to make sure you can provide safe food for your customers.

Please contact me if you would like to have a chat about a review of your FSMS or if you need a re write or a new system for your business https://www.foodsafetylogic.co.uk/contact-us/