If you are a domestic or foreign facility covered under the preventive controls rule, you must implement a food safety plan.  The rule on Preventive Controls for Human Food is mandated by the 2011 FDA Food Safety Modernization Act.  The food safety plans will help identify food safety hazards the require a preventative control and implement preventive controls to minimize or prevent hazards. Here are some helpful tips to provide a cleaner workflow for your staff and a cleaner environment for your consumers.

What is a food safety plan?A food safety plan consists of documents that provide an approach to identify hazards that need to be controlled to prevent the possibility of illness. The documents show proactive measures, which are enacted to minimize the risk of illness related to contamination. This continues ongoing evaluation of the policies, Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), and records.   

The food safety plan must include:The Product Description, Incoming Materials, and Process Flow, Risk Evaluation, Hazard Analysis, Critical Control Points (CCPs), Monitoring Procedures, Corrective Actions, Supplier Evaluation, Recall Plan, Verification Procedures, Supply Chain Control Program, and Preventive Controls. 

Why is it beneficial to have all these documents within a food safety plan?Having a product description can identify some food safety hazards in how to control them. It is important to understand the process flow of the facility because it shows from the receiving of ingredients to the distribution of your product to help identify cross contamination points. A Hazard Analysis is used to identify any known or potential biological chemical and physical hazards and determine if any of those hazards require a preventive control. If the hazard analysis identifies a hazard that requires a preventive control, you are required to develop and implement a control to significantly minimize or prevent the hazard. The preventive controls must be written in the food safety plan and include as appropriate procedures, monitoring, corrective actions, verification, records, and in some cases, validation. 

A food safety plan can outline preventive controls and associated requirements that could include process controls, food allergen controls, sanitation controls and supplier controls. It is important to remember that a hazard to your consumer is a hazard to your business.  

If you fail to prevent to eliminate the hazard at a critical control point, you will not be able to prevent or potential illness. In other words, having a food safety plan that states control points are critical to keep your food product and the consumers safe. Careful monitoring procedures help ensure that your process facility is operating safely and within critical limits at each critical control point. Implementing monitoring procedures from a food safety plan can assist your company in a practical and realistic way by identifying unsafe food quickly and record keeping. Knowing who, what, how, and when to check when monitoring is conducted, will keep your company be in an organized manner. 

If there happens to be a non-conformance that occurs, it is a must to be prepared by following within a food safety plan to take Corrective Action. By taking Corrective Actions, you can investigate the cause, put products on hold, continue the process until it is safe, and recording any non-conformance taken to prevent reoccurrence. 

It is important that your facility is following food safety fundamentals. HACCP Prerequisite programs are fundamental and to see if verification procedures are being applied. It also vital that your facility is structured by keeping records. Obtaining records demonstrates how well your food safety plan and that your product is being made safely. Overall, food safety plans are valuable to have because they create a clean environment and good manufacturing practices for your establishment to make sure everything is running smoothly.  

Are there resources?There are resources available to help facilities develop a food safety plan. ConnectFood is a great resource!  ConnectFood uses a software program that has food safety professionals that can help you develop a customized food safety plan for your facility. It is in compliance with the USDA, FDA, and local regulatory bodies. ConnectFood’s plans are up to date with the latest information and has a variety of plan templates already available from dairy, beverages, seafood, and protein products. Following a food safety plan is very essential towards a company to avoid outbreaks and to ensure regulatory compliance. 

A Note From ConnectFood CEO Matthew Botos: 

We manufacture food every day both globally and locally. Food safety plans are different for every facility. You can make the same product in two different locations and have two slightly different plans.  Each facility is responsible for bringing a team together, as discussed above, to identify potential hazards and put measures in place to protect consumers and the supply chain.  It is important to analyze not only the physical characteristics of your product but also who in your facility is responsible and are the employees trained. Companies must also look at their facilities and equipment for areas of potential contamination.  Management commitment along with good manufacturing practices and proper sanitation are foundations of strong impactful food safety plans.

About the Author:

Daniela Jugueta received a B.S. degree from SUNY Buffalo State College. She is currently pursuing a M.A.S. degree in Food Safety and Technology in the Food Science and Nutrition department, Illinois Institute of Technology. She is also an intern for ConnectFood as a Food Safety Specialist.