It is essential to the viability of the HACCP system that there is top-level senior management commitment. Without this, the entire HACCP system can crumble within a food business. The majority of customer standards and certification standards including BRC, SQF, ISO22000 have mandatory requirements around senior management commitment. These requirements include the provision of adequate resources, the implementation of effective communication, a system for management review and mechanisms for continual improvement.
As a general rule, senior management are required to provide adequate human and financial resources to effectively implement, manage, maintain and improve the HACCP food safety and quality systems. When we talk about human resources, it means that there are enough people or staff to ensure the HACCP food safety system and quality system is correct and working as required. Financial resources can be measured not only through the employment of suitable staff but also through the training activities available for all staff, the maintenance of equipment, pest control and cleaning provisions.
The success of any food business is effective communication. The HACCP food safety system should include clear communication and reporting channels between senior management and those responsible for implementing and maintaining business systems. This may include supervisors, line staff, the quality assurance team and the HACCP team.
Every HACCP food safety system should be reviewed on a regular basis to demonstrate senior management commitment. This process should be driven by senior management and include (at a minimum) a review of food safety action plans, customer complaints, non-conforming product, resource requirements, process performance and any internal or external audit results. Food safety and quality objectives should also be measured and reviewed as part of this.
The review process should be undertaken at planned intervals but generally at least annually. All reviews should be documented in accordance with good record keeping and reporting practices.
It is important that the food business recognises that systems are continually changing therefore making continuous improvement a necessity. Senior management commitment can be demonstrated to continuous improvement through attendance and participation in key business meetings related to food safety, HACCP and quality. Outcomes from meetings are implemented and relevant changes are enforced throughout the food business as part of this process.
Auditing Management Commitment
There are many ways that your business can demonstrate management commitment during a certification audit. Reviewing the requirements of your certification standard is the best place to start. There normally is a separate section dedicated to management commitment however requirements may also be documented throughout the applicable certification standard as well. The food auditor will be assessing the involvement of senior management during the audit process in addition to their participation in the success of the HACCP food safety and quality system. The availability of records to support the review process should be a priority for any food business.