Succeeding in the food industry involves more than simply turning out tasty and attractive meals for your hungry customers. You also have to ensure that every food item that passes through your kitchen meets the standards for safety, hygiene and quality.

If you produce, handle, sell or ship consumables, you are required to have a food safety plan in place. New Zealand covers this in the Food Act of 2014.

What is a food safety plan?
There a set of rules that everyone in your organization must follow in order to ensure food safety. Irrespective of whether or not you maintain a clean or safe food production area, these rules must be followed.

A food safety plan is a document which covers all the activities that ensure that the food passing through your kitchen is safe for consumption.

A typical food safety plan covers

  • Food production
  • Handling
  • Packaging
  • Shipping
  • Staff health
  • Hygiene and training
  • Suppliers
  • Cleaning
  • Pest control
  • Waste management.

It also covers the monitoring of storage temperatures and refrigerators and their attendant logs.

To a business owner, this may mean simply more paperwork, however, this set of rules is the difference between the success or failure of your food business.

As a food business, you probably have some form of food safety plan without even realising it. Achieving the accepted level of food safety enables your food business to:

  • Reduce the risk of food poisoning
  • Obey the law
  • Protect the reputation of your business

Technology has largely eliminated the problems of meeting food safety compliance. You are able to create a fully automated food control plan via an app which will put all the information you need at your fingertips without you having to wade through dozens of forms and paper logs.

Why is food safety important?
Food-borne transmissions: The issue of food poisoning is one of the food business’s biggest concerns.

Did you know New Zealand has the highest rate of food poisoning in the developed world? In 2016, more than 7000 cases of Campylobacter were reported, and 50% were as a result of food-borne transmissions. These numbers underscore the importance of having a food safety plan in place.
If you have ever suffered from food poisoning, you know it can be extremely uncomfortable and painful. In some cases, it can even be fatal to young children and the elderly.
As a food business owner or restaurants, a proper food safety plan will outline the precautions you should take when preparing and storing certain foods. It ensures your food isn’t harmful for consumption. For example, the best temperature to keep meat to prevent bacteria.

Cross-contamination
Germs amongst other contaminants can cross-transfer from one food to another. They are also able to be transmitted between chemicals and humans.

For instance, bacteria transfers from poorly kept meat to other food products if proper care is not taken. In the same way, chemicals, cleaners and pesticides which are used to keep your workstation clean transfer to food products if the proper safety steps are not taken.

People who produce and handle these foods unknowingly transfer germs to the prepared meal. This is incredibly easy if you are ill or have small scratches on your hands, enabling germs to hide and cross contaminate food.
A food safety plan helps in the following ways Accountability
Have you ever had that feeling in the pit of your stomach when you know the health inspector will be arriving to inspect your premises? It happens when you don’t have a food safety plan.
Health inspectors like to know that your food business has a plan in place for food safety and hygiene. They want to see that your staff are well trained on how to properly handle food. They also want to know if the kitchen or production area is safe for food preparation.

Reduces waste
Ask any restaurant owner or food production facility manager what their biggest problem is. They will answer “waste”. Waste is what happens when food goes bad and becomes inedible.
Waste is one of the biggest problems to plague the food production industry, and is largely due to improper storage and preservation methods.
Your food safety plan will stipulate the proper procedures for ensuring that waste will be kept to a minimum.

Protect your business
If a customer accuses you of food poisoning you may end up in court in order to defend your business. This is where the records and logs generated by your safety plan will show your business is committed to food safety.

Improving your food safety compliance plan
Your food safety plan is what makes you compliant. It protects your business and customers, and everyone in your business should know it. It might not be what protects your business from all aspects of bad food management because accidents do happen, however, a food safety plan helps you and your staff to understand the risks of accidents and equips your business with the preventive skills required.
It is in your best interests to ensure that you have a food safety plan in place and all your operations are food safety compliant.

Ensure that your staff receive comprehensive training. They should understand their responsibility to keeping the workplace safe. This is an important aspect of running a food business.

Wrapping up
Data is a crucial element of your food control plan. In the past, food businesses recorded data on paper, today however, forward-thinking businesses are opting for a digital solution that streamlines their processes.

Author's Bio: 

Misty Jhones