January 16, 2019

An FSMS Is the Strongest Predictor of Food Safety Compliance

Written by Garret Weigel | Food Safety, HACCP

With each passing year of the 21st century, the restaurant cold chain continues to grow in new directions. Compared to 20 years ago, It’s less linear (similar to a chain) and more branching (resembling a tree). Plus, there are more touchpoints and more individual players involved. One significant reason for these developments is changing consumer tastes, in both food and service.

 

With the rise of the organic movement, customers want fresh, local ingredients which means more farms to deal with, new transportation routes to cover, and greater care needed to keep perishable foods in the right temperature zones. Simultaneously, the consumer desire for greater convenience has blossomed into a novel variety of takeout, eat-in and delivery options – everything from kiosks and self-service to Grubhub and meal kits.

 

The consequence of all this innovation is, of course, that food safety is more important than ever before. Any restaurant that uses romaine lettuce knows this all too well. But there’s nothing to fear. What’s needed is better vigilance.

 

Fortunately, there are proven tools available that help restaurant management take better control of food safety protocols. In this post, we look at one such tool, an FSMS, or food safety management system. An FSMS can not only help ensure safety compliance, but also improve the quality of your product, and therefore increase customer confidence and satisfaction, and ultimately profits.

 

What is a Food Safety Management System (FSMS)?

An FSMS is a network of three components working together to ensure that food doesn’t cause unfavorable human health effects:

  • Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP)
  • Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP)
  • Management System

 

According to the FDA, an effective FSMS should include the following elements:

  • Standard procedures for performing critical operations
  • Monitoring and recordkeeping capabilities
  • Equipment and facility maintenance
  • Manager and employee training
  • Certified food protection managers
  • Employee health policy for restricting or excluding ill employees
  • Ongoing quality control and assurance

 

Watch our webinar to learn about a newly released study on foodborne illness  conducted by the FDA, and how food safety management systems are key to keeping  customers safe.

 

Advantages of an FSMS

The benefits of investing in an FSMS far exceed any costs to implement one. These include:

  • Continuous prevention of foodborne illness and related public relations disasters
  • Food safety compliance during routine inspections
  • Improved inventory control
  • Reduction in product loss
  • More consistency in product preparation and improved product quality
  • Increased employee understanding and involvement in food safety
  • More effective communication and collaboration with industry regulators

 

And of course, an FSMS will undoubtedly save you time and money.

 

If you need any further convincing about the value of an FSMS, check out the results of a recent FDA Retail Food Risk Factor study. In a nutshell, the main finding of the study was that restaurants with a well-developed FSMS had less than half as many risk factors and food safety practices out of compliance than restaurants lacking an FSMS. In fact, an inadequate FSMS was the strongest predictor of compliance oversights for both fast-food and full-service restaurants.

 

Implementing an FSMS

All this talk about standards, compliance, and protocols might sound overwhelming if you’re new to food safety management. Implementing an FSMS need not be daunting if you break the process down into 7 easy steps. Here’s a brief outline of what’s involved:

  1. Prepare an organizational strategy based on customer requirements to generate food safety policies and objectives.
  2. Identify the resources needed to implement and maintain the FSMS, including personnel, infrastructure, training, and any changes necessary to your work environment.
  3. Appoint a food safety team leader and a multi-disciplinary food safety team to implement and manage the FSMS.
  4. Model the FSMS on hazard analysis and critical control points (HACCP) principles to chart all potential food safety hazards at every crucial component of operations.
  5. Train key personnel to ensure they understand the FSMS and HACCP standards.
  6. Communicate to all employees the importance of their roles and responsibilities in ensuring food safety.
  7. Incorporate the FSMS into the overall management activities of the organization.

 

Perhaps the most important rule for establishing a successful FSMS is the buy-in from senior management and their commitment to developing, implementing, maintaining and improving the system. True, an effective FSMS will require an investment of time, money, and effort. Yet the knowledge that your organization has made the best effort to meet all food safety standards and regulations to protect the health of your customers is priceless.

 

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Topics: Food Safety HACCP

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