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Establishing a Corporate Vision for Food Safety Compliance

By: Mike Koeris on July 5th, 2017

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Establishing a Corporate Vision for Food Safety Compliance

Food Safety  |  Listeria Prevention and Control

As the entire domain of food safety transforms and FSMA deadlines elapse, corporate-level executives and brand managers must prioritize their companies’ compliance efforts or risk facing crippling impacts. From regulatory penalties and legal consequences to recalls and reputational damages, the stakes are high.

Food safety is one of the few, if not the only, events that can terminally damage a brand. Don’t believe me? Just look at Chipotle, Blue Bell and Peanut Butter of America.

What’s your strategy for preventing these potentially fatal brand consequences? Have you established a structured corporate vision for food safety excellence? Do you know how?

Visualizing and mapping out a plan for how your organization will fulfill the demands of food safety compliance is a fundamental aspect of protecting your business and your bottom line. Your corporate vision must comprehensively address the implementation of proactive food safety processes throughout the entire company.

If you’re unsure of how to build the proper roadmap -- one that supports food safety at each juncture of the manufacturing process, focuses on meeting all compliance mandates and helps preserve the integrity of your brand -- use the following tips to aid your efforts.

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Roadmap to Excellence 

1. Integrate from the Top Down

Formulating a corporate vision for food safety excellence should begin with the direct involvement of top-level leadership and management. How can the decision-makers of your organization make the appropriate choices to support compliance requirements if they aren’t immersed in the necessary food safety objectives and processes? How can they lead the rest of the company in this manner?

From the president, vice president and corporate food safety group to the plant managers and the corporate supply chain, risk management and government compliance are shared responsibilities. It takes widespread participation to make these efforts successful. If your corporate team is too far removed from the day-to-day activities that affect food safety compliance, and they don’t have the means to acquire critical information and insight, they are not equipped to lead the rest of the organization in the right direction.

At the core of every decision, action and plan regarding food safety compliance, there must be superior knowledge and awareness. Otherwise, the entire operation functions blindly and is at a great disadvantage in terms of meeting modern compliance standards. To furnish the C-suite with up-to-date and robust information for smart decision-making, it is essential to implement a food safety management solution that enables:

  • Oversight of the entire testing program
  • Tracking of all new and historical data
  • Creation of audit trails and reports
  • Easy access to documentation on corrective and preventive actions
  • Ability to view the whole plant, including every test point, at any level of detail
  • Clear visualization through color-coded floorplans, individual pictures and powerful reporting
  • Scheduling and monitoring of individual processes
  • Efficient communication of results and actions

2. Examine the Structure of Your Compliance Obligations

Before you can outline an appropriate plan for meeting your compliance obligations, you must first identify and fully understand these obligations, including areas of your organization that will be impacted and to what degree. Depending on the size and setup of your operation, the scope of this effort can be vast. Nonetheless, it is essential to defining a viable corporate vision that protects your business and your brand.

With the support of an internal compliance team or outside experts, you’ll need to assemble all relevant resources, including documentation on:

  • FSMA mandates and related government regulations
  • Industry practices
  • Legal liabilities
  • Geographical and market considerations
  • Operational frameworks

There’s a myriad of resources available from the FDA, which you should consult extensively. In addition, take advantage of dynamic compliance and control software that can help verify compliance with FSMA requirements and even present a virtual tour of your food safety plan with visualization tools, corrective action reports and trending analysis.

3. Focus on Standardizing and Streamlining Processes

The complexity of your operations is defined by a profusion of functions at every level of the organization and in each department company wide. With this level of intricacy and involvement, there is a major need for cohesion. Unless you can standardize your systems and processes across the business, your vision can’t effectively address your overarching compliance needs.

Of course, standardization requires two very important factors: strong communication and unhindered transparency. You’ll need to be able to:

  • Visualize your critical control points and any other preventive control points on an intuitive floor plan
  • Quickly identify locations and patterns within your food safety plan
  • Communicate quickly and effectively
  • Leverage automated notifications and alerts
  • Systematize the scheduling of preventative controls and testing
  • Easily access all EMP sampling data, testing results and corrective action records
  • Verify performance

Ultimately, you can’t keep up with shifting food safety demands and maintain an efficient operation unless you have streamlined, standardized processes in place. To implement a corporate vision that tightly integrates all departments, functions, schedules and data, automation will have to be a key component of your strategy.

Automation equips you to ensure that otherwise segmented elements stay connected and organized. Reliance on outdated, manual methods will hold you back and impede your ability to meet crucial compliance demands. Embracing standardization and streamlined functionality in your corporate vision will require you to adopt an effective means of automation.

4) Promote Continuous Improvement and Education

Without evaluating the implementation outcomes of your corporate vision, you won’t have the benefit of knowing whether it’s effectively meeting your food safety compliance requirements. Ongoing assessment is paramount to continuous improvement and the ability to fulfill your obligations. A vital facet of proper assessment is the ability to record and harness data. This is the most valuable way to improve your processes and minimize the risks and costs associated with outdated or ineffective methods.

Be sure to make routine data analysis a part of your corporate vision, and approach your data with insightful questions like:

  • How is the percentage of testing positives being affected by food safety compliance efforts?
  • Are target goals being achieved?
  • Is the frequency plan being adhered to?
  • Are remediations being carried out according to protocol?

To support your continuous improvement effort, it is also necessary to make ongoing compliance awareness and education a significant aspect of your corporate vision. Preparing your entire team to take on the major shift in mindset that’s required to meet FSMA rules and evolving food safety risks hinges on having a strong plan for education and training. Every individual in your organization should be prepared for and actively involved in the implementation of your corporate vision for food safety compliance.

Does your corporate vision entail an environmental monitoring program that’s fully equipped to meet FSMA regulations? Take this free quiz to find out now.

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