Part 1:

Ensuring food safety every day, every production lot is a huge responsibility for food processors.  This article is the first in a four-part series looking at achieving food safety by design.  Here we describe people capability considerations to achieve food safety.

People Capability to Achieve Food Safety by Design

Implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) has added an important regulatory compliance requirement for processors to have written food safety plans in place to ensure food safety by design.  Hiring the right number of people with the right skills and training is important to execute the food safety plan.

Food Safety and Quality Team

Food safety members typically have degrees in a science field and/or a quality engineering background.  They need to understand the chemical, biological and physical hazards that can potentially contaminate foods and the preventive controls for those hazards.  Additional certification in Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) is also desirable.  FSMA comes with many new food safety administrative requirements, so plants need to ensure proper food safety and quality staffing for the workload.

The Preventive Controls Qualified Individual (PCQI)

FSMA requires a qualified individual related to preventive controls for human foods.  The most straight-forward way to ensure this is to have at least one member of your plant attend a PCQI course.  Persons filling this role are commonly members of the food safety and quality team.  Many companies find it best to have multiple PCQI certified individuals at each plant.

Operations and R&D also need to be properly staffed and trained

FSMA provides an opportunity to reassess staffing and training for operations to manage and adhere to good manufacturing practices, preventive maintenance schedules and preventive controls in supply, production and distribution.  Watch out for cost savings or productivity initiatives that target staffing in these areas in this time of increased regulatory requirements and scrutiny.

What about R&D?  Product Development team members typically formulate products and specify ingredients.  They need to be trained to understand formulation impacts on food safety as well as supplier and production capability to ensure safe foods by design.

Next in this series we will look at the importance of a strong food safety culture. Future topics will include systems and documentation as well as the facilities and equipment infrastructure needed to achieve food safety by design.