Complete Guide to Food Safety Management Systems
If you’re in charge of a food business, it’s your legal duty to have a food safety management system in place. This is to keep your customers and your staff safe from foodborne illness.
But how do you get a food safety management system and what should it cover? How do you know if your current system is doing a good job of covering all the bases? Don’t wait until something goes wrong to find out!
This is your complete guide to food safety management systems – what they are, why you need them, and how to choose a system that really benefits your business.
Use any of the links below to navigate to specific information around food safety management systems:
What is food safety?
The aim of food safety is to protect people from foodborne illnesses. It means making sure you always have safe systems and behaviours in place for handling, preparing and storing food.
People can be made ill from food if it is contaminated by these types of things:
- Biological – Living things are by far the biggest cause of food-borne illness because they can be passed on so easily, and often invisibly. Biological hazards include bacteria, viruses and parasites.
- Physical – Also called ‘foreign bodies’, physical objects in your food could include hair, fingernails, pieces of plastic or glass. These objects might also transfer harmful bacteria into the food.
- Chemical – Common kitchen chemicals can be found in cleaning and pest-control products. Food can also be exposed to chemicals like pesticides and fertilizers before it reaches kitchens.
What is food safety management?
Food safety management is about making sure your business is doing all the right things to protect people from foodborne illness.
If you run a food business in the UK, you must have a food safety management plan that’s based on the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP). The HACCP helps you to identify food safety risks in your business and to make sure you have procedures in place to reduce those risks.
When your restaurant has a food safety audit, the Environmental Health Officer (EHO) will check that you’re managing food safety in line with HACCP. This affects the food hygiene rating that your business will be given.
What is a food safety management system and why is it important?
A food safety management system is a set of policies, actions and procedures for achieving food safety. It helps everyone in your business to understand food safety hazards and how best to control them. The system must be documented somewhere – digitally or on paper – so it can be seen and understood by your employees and by EHOs.
The law says that your food safety management system must be based on the principles of HACCP. But the details you include and the way you operate it is up to you.
When developing a food safety management system, you need to consider every single stage of the food handling process: from the point of source, to when it’s served, and everything in between.
What are the benefits of food safety management software?
Food business owners must keep documents to prove they have a food management system in place. Inspectors will need to see this evidence during a food safety inspection. Your documents can be paper based, but this won’t be as convenient or reliable as using software for food safety management. If it’s online, it’s always on!
Here’s the top 5 benefits of food safety management software:
- Synchronise your checks and systems – Some software will automatically log temperature readings from food and appliances via wifi. Instant alerts will let you know if a temperature slips in the wrong direction.
- Manage your compliance calendar – There’s so many events, schedules and hygiene checklists that staff must follow to stay compliant. Software brings them all together to make it easier to keep track of everything.
- Easy access to compliance records – Paperwork can easily go for a walkabout. Software will keep all your compliance records in a safe, central, online location that you can access anytime and from any place.
- Track ‘who, what and when’ – When incidents are reported, you must be able to track the events leading up to it and account for everything – especially if an EHO comes to investigate.
- Manage allergens effectively – It’s crucial that your processes for handling allergens are water-tight and fully up to speed with the law. Software will help you keep track of all ingredients used, and make it much easier to print allergen labels.
What is the best food management software?
When choosing food management software, think about how it will meet the needs of your business and the way your teams work.
Asking the right questions will help you to shortlist and compare different software solutions before you make a commitment:
- How many sites does your business have? – Food management software makes it much easier to manage multiple sites from a single location. Choose software with a central management dashboard so you get full visibility without the need to visit individual sites.
- How big is your team – Your staff will want something that saves them time, is easy to use and simple to access. The bigger your teams, the harder it will be to manage everything using paper based systems.
- What’s the size of your kitchen? – Bigger kitchens mean more footwork when it comes to monitoring temperatures and keeping things hygienic. Choose software that will automate as much of these checks as possible.
- What type of food does your business serve? – Some types of food may be more prone to carrying certain types of bacteria and need to be handled in very specific ways. Make your software can handle complex food safety systems in a really simple way.
Do I need a certificate in food safety management?
If you manage a food business, you have a legal responsibility to make sure that employees are trained in food safety and hygiene. That training must be appropriate to the level of their role and the tasks they perform.
There’s no legal requirement for managers to be certified in food safety. But it is the best way to prove that you understand the law, that you know how to self-audit your business for food safety hazards, and that you understand how to provide your teams with the right training.
Navitas recommends the Level 3 Managing Food Safety certification course for food managers and supervisors. It’s CPD accredited, and recognised across the catering industry.
What happens if I don’t manage food safety properly?
If your business doesn’t manage food safety properly, then customers and employees are at risk of harm. This could result in fines, closure, or even a custodial sentence in the worst cases.
Even if you escape a slap on the wrist from the EHO, customers will vote with their feet if bad hygiene gives them a bad experience. That’s a reputation you definitely don’t want to have!
Navitas Food Safety Management Software
Navitas makes 5* food safety simple with easy to use management software. It gives you full control over food safety standards from supplier to plate, better visibility and a complete system for managing HACCP checklists. It even logs temperature readings automatically via wifi when used with our digital hardware. Whatever the shape and size of your food business, Navitas is a great fit. See for yourself with a free demonstration.