Food safety monitoring is essential to ensure that the food produced by the food industry is both safe and suitable for consumption. Without it, how do you prove to regulatory authorities and external auditors that compliance obligations are being met? Read on to find out what is food safety monitoring and how to set up a system in your food business.
What is food safety monitoring?
Food safety monitoring is the mechanism by which we regularly check to see that food safety hazards are under control, procedures are being correctly implemented and food safety compliance is followed.
This type of monitoring is deeply embedded in food safety legislation around the world. It is also a requirement of all GFSI recognized certification programmes, for example, SQF, BRC, FSSC 22000, IFS, Global GAP etc.
Without food safety monitoring, we would not be able to support the food safety status of our food production and supply.
Common monitoring activities
If you have a HACCP based food safety program implemented in your food business, you should be familiar with CCP monitoring or monitoring of critical limits. Food safety monitoring, in this context, seeks to ensure that potential hazards do not become uncontrolled and subsequently result in illness or injury to food consumers.
Another key area of food safety monitoring is for GMP programs or prerequisite programs. For example, if you have a policy that states allergenic materials are to be stored separately to non-allergenic materials, you would need to implement some type of check or observation to support compliance with this requirement.
The system of food safety monitoring
Food safety monitoring systems developed and implemented in your food business should include the following components:
- What – Describe what is going to be monitored.
- Where – Explain where the food safety monitoring will take place. This is usually a location or point in the food production process.
- How – Communicate how the monitoring is to be undertaken. Written procedures allow everyone involved in the food safety monitoring activity to complete the task the same way.
- When – Indicate when the monitoring is to take place. This is also known as the frequency. Examples include “at receival”, “hourly”, or “after cleaning”.
- Who – Designate a position or person who will be responsible for the food safety monitoring. It is also ideal to have deputies listed to complete the task if someone is away.
- Record – List the name of the monitoring form that needs to be completed by the person designated to complete the monitoring. Without records, you will not be able to prove or provide evidence that the food safety monitoring has taken place.
Training is essential
For any type of monitoring to be implemented correctly, training food handlers in monitoring procedures is essential. You can complete on-the-job practical instruction, group training or opt for online training. If you are interested in having your own online training portal for your food business – click here.
Documenting your system
I find the easiest way to document a monitoring system is to include a formatted table in association with the requirement that you need to monitor. This can be housed in one document (I use an excel spread sheet) for simplicity and control.
Share your experience
Do you have any insights on how you undertake food safety monitoring in your food business? Share your knowledge and experience with the HACCP Mentor community by leaving a comment below.