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System Effectiveness

Why food companies are implementing "food safety systems"? No matter if that system is a HACCP program, a GFSI program or any other "food safety" scheme, the purpose is the same: "prevent, reduce or eliminate" food safety hazards. 
 
The only way that you can really accomplish this is by fully understanding the process on how to develop and implement the food safety scheme of your choice. 
 
The main factor, the most critical point to accomplish in the implementation of a food safety system, is to have evidence that the system is effective, that the controls in place (...and you can call them control measures or preventive controls, procedures or, any other name...) are actually preventing, reducing or eliminating identified hazards. Otherwise, you'll have a lot of documents and records with no relevant meaning. 
 
So, how do you accomplish your goal of developing and implementing an effective food safety system? For sure, it is not by just going to a HACCP class and/or taking a training specific for the standard you decided to implement. I'm a certified Adult Train-The-Trainer, a trainer for Seafood HACCP Alliance, a trainer for the International HACCP Alliance and SQF. I can say that, in most cases, my students leave the training room with a very good understanding of hazards and risks and control measures and critical limits, just to mention a few terms used during the trainings. Does that mean they know all the requirements of the Law, that they will be able to identify all hazards and determine which are significant and which are not, that they can develop the documentation with details of the goals of the procedures, responsible individuals (...and their training requirements), that they are capable of designing all records required to provide evidence that whatever is important in that procedure is being recorded and, how to validate and verify each procedure? 
 
You not only need to have a very strong background in HACCP methodology but, good understanding of the hazards associated with each ingredient, with the process, with people, etc. This knowledge is not gained by attending a training! It is gained by continuous education and years of practice. For example, the Codex Alimentarius states: "A qualified individual (with proper scientific background) must analyse the measurements to interpret correctly the data collected." In the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) in the US, a "qualified individual would be required to prepare the food safety plan, develop the hazard analysis, validate the preventive controls, review records and conduct a reanalysis of the food safety plan (or oversee these activities)."
 
If someone is looking to develop and implement a food safety system, it is wise to have someone with the necessary "qualifications" to guide the process and mostly, to help in the training of the employees and mostly those that will have food safety responsibilities.

The HACCP Team


What is the HACCP Team

Basically, anyone looking to implement a HACCP Program must first go through the five preliminary steps. For this discussion, we are going to talk about the HACCP Team.

The first step is to assemble a HACCP Team. The HACCP Team must be integrated by people that are knowledgeable of the process(es) performed and the product(s) manufactured. All members of the Team must be trained in the HACCP method, specially the HACCP Team Leader or HACCP Coordinator.

But why all members must understand the HACCP method?

When someone takes a training on HACCP, the basic information on how the HACCP method works and the definitions of hazards and risk are explained. The definition of a "Critical Control Point" (CCP), critical limit, what is a deviation?, corrective actions, verification and validation must be fully understood by the team members.

What happen when I'm auditing? I verify that the HACCP Coordinator/HACCP Team Leader has formal training and, that this training was examinable to determine basic understanding of the methodology. What is the expectative for the other team members? They must understand the HACCP method too! how can they cooperate in the development of the HACCP Program if they don't understand what is a hazard analysis, what is a hazard and which are its risks? All members of the HACCP Team must fully understand the basic concepts of the HACCP method!

Who else must have an understanding of the HACCP method? Monitors of CCPs and anyone responsible for verification of any area of the HACCP Program. What is your opinion about an employee that is a monitor of a CCP and does not know what is a deviation, does not know what is the critical limit or which are the parameters that are monitored and why?

Training on HACCP and verification of understanding of the training is of critical importance for the proper implementation of a HACCP Program.

What is your experience in assembling the HACCP Team?

 

Surveillance for Foodborne Disease Outbreaks

During 1998–2008, CDC received reports of 13,405 foodborne disease outbreaks, which resulted in 273,120 reported cases of illness, 9,109 hospitalizations, and 200 deaths.

Read more...

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