How to get your head around Food Safety Management Systems

If you are starting a new food business you will need a Food Safety Management System (FSMS) in place to make sure your business is legal. (This is sometimes referred to as HACCP).

With the closure of many types of business in retail, restaurants, cafes and pubs, to name a few, due to the coronavirus restrictions. Many people are now starting businesses from their kitchen table or small production units to make some money and keep their heads above water.

If you are thinking or have started a catering business read my top tips on starting a new food catering business HERE. And advice on starting a food business from home published by the Food Standards Agency HERE.

Which Food Safety Management System should I choose?

In my previous blogs I have talked about putting together a food safety management system for caterers including  keeping your records up to date and reviewing your FSMS.

Small catering businesses

To recap I recommend that if you are small catering business you can use Safer Foods Better Business (SFBB). This is a readymade pack with safe methods and a diary that you complete to show what you are actually doing.

SFBB is suitable if you run a small food business such as a deli or café’ and is available to download for free from the Food Standards Agency website SFBB.   The SFBB pack is also available for retailers, care homes and for different cuisines.

There is also a new online package SFBB+ which is available via an app with a monthly subscription.

Small food manufacturers

If you are starting a small food manufacturing business you could use MyHACCP which is a free online tool developed by the Food Standards Agency. It will help you to build your own product based Food Safety Management System.

The seven principles of HACCP

Regardless of whether you have a service or product based food business you will need to have a food safety management system. This should be based on the seven HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point) principles:

  1. Conduct a Hazard Analysis- identify hazards and controls to stop them happening
  2. Identify the critical control points-the points in the production process where food safety is critical
  3. Establish critical limits-usually a time/temperature set in legislation/linked to best practice
  4. Monitor Critical control point- checks to ensure controls are working at these points
  5. Establish corrective action – what must happen if the critical limits are not met
  6. Verification-systems to check the HACCP is working
  7. Documentation – records for the HACCP system

This will ensure that you have a written record of the hazards in your food business which is required by law.

Alternatively you could have a Food Safety Management System written for your business. This will identify and control the specific  risks in your food production process.

What a FSMS for food production should include:

  • Staff with HACCP knowledge and training.
  • A detailed description of the food being made.
  • A flow chart showing the stages of food production.
  • The 7 principles of HACCP (see above) applied to each production step.
  • Pre-requisite programs to produce a safe environment for producing food. These should be based on good manufacturing practice e.g. cleaning, pest control, handwashing etc.
  • Standard operating procedures – to describe particular tasks used in the production of the food.
  • Operational Pre-requisite programs –  to control specific hazards or contamination in the food production process.

As part of this system you will also need to look at microbiological testing, packaging and labelling. Also allergens, product recall and traceability. You could also consider a risk evaluation tool,  quality management, organoleptic (taste/smell) testing and auditing. There is a lot to think about……………..!

Once your system is written and in place it must be reviewed regularly. This is important to do when any part of the production changes e.g. new packaging; or if you introduce new ingredients or products.

Contact me by clicking HERE if you need further advice or assistance with your current or new Food Safety Management System for your product or service based food business.




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