Food safety monitoring for compliance

How to set food safety objectives

Food safety objectives are the goals that your food business sets around producing and providing safe and suitable food to your customers. They can be seen as the guiding principles that you can then build your food safety implementation plans around. Every policy that you develop for your food business should have an associated set of food safety (and quality) objectives.

Developing SMART objectives

Like any type of business objective, food safety objectives should be developed following the SMART acronym. SMART objectives are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely.  You can develop company-wide objectives or narrow down to individual departments within your food business. Whenever you write the food safety objectives for your food business always check that they cover these five aspects.

  • Specific for your food business. Use your business data and target to areas of improvement for your own business.
  • Measurable food safety objectives are just that – you should be able to determine compliance to your objective through some type of solid metric. This means that you need to associate actual targets to the objective. I always find that having numerical targets makes it easier to not only report on progress but to also motivate the food handling team towards achieving our goals.
  • Achievable. It is no good writing an objective that will never be achieved. Always start of small and in bite sized chunks. You are more likely to succeed this way.
  • Realistic objectives are closely aligned to making your food safety objectives achievable. They need to be realistic to your food business not someone else’s.
  • Timely objectives motivate us to achieve the outcome. All objectives should have a time limit otherwise nothing ever gets done. Time restrictions are a catalyst for goal achievement. Just remember that “tomorrow never comes”.

Communicating to your team

Once the food safety objectives have been developed make sure that they are communicated to all relevant staff. Communication can be as easy as displaying the food safety objectives on staff notice boards or published on internal intranets to verbal discussion at staff or tool-box meetings. You may want to also implement training to individual departments if you have also developed departmental objectives on top of business-wide objectives.

Examples of food safety objectives

Some examples of food safety objectives include:

  • To respond to customer complaints within x hours
  • To reduce the number of customer complaints by x% on previous year.
  • To maintain a minimum ‘G-rating’ for our third party certification audit.
  • To complete all verification activities within 5 days of the scheduled date.
  • To complete food safety induction training for new employees before job commencement.
  • To ensure that there is no listeria monocytogenes detected in any of x product.
  • To maintain a minimum of x% for all internal GMP audits.
  • To not have any food recalls during the 2018 year.

Just remember to make sure that they are relevant to your food business and you include reporting metrics to suit.

Reporting on Outcomes

The most common platform to report on the compliance of your food safety objectives is through the management review process. Get my Management Review Policy Template by clicking here. You can also provide reporting through weekly or monthly team meetings. Always make it clear what your objective is and the result to date. Data graphs are a great way to visually represent your progress and provide a trigger to fix or correct non-compliance before they escalate.

Mapping to Key Standards

If you are certified to a third party recognized standard there are requirements around developing food safety objectives. Some common references include:

  • ISO 22000-2005 – Clause 5.2 Food safety policy
  • SQF (Edition 7.2) – Clause 2.1.1 Management Policy
  • BRC (Issue 7) – Clause 1.1.2
  • PrimusGFS Standard (V2.1-2 Nov 2015) – Clause 1.1 Management System
  • IFS Food (V6 – April 2014) – Clause 1.1.2

Share your experience

Feel free to add to the examples listed in this HACCP Mentor post by leaving a comment below.


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