If you work with food, you’ll already know that you need a stringent Food Control Plan (FCP). This is because you have a responsibility to keep the people who consume your food products safe. But FCPs come with lots of obligations depending on what food industry you’re in which can be a nightmare to stay across, especially if you have lots of employees or a high staff turnover.
The fact of the matter is, though, FCPs are an essential part of the food industry. If you work with food, you (probably) have to have an FCP (some businesses have exemptions). Food safety management is an essential part of food production, so it’s essential that your business implements a foolproof way of staying across all of your legal expectations.
The Ins & Outs of a Food Control Plan
The Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) defines a Food Control Plan (FCP) as a written strategy that outlines what steps a food business needs to take to ensure anyone who consumes their food goods will remain safe. An FCP helps you identify potential risks and to show how they're being managed. It means customers will know your food is safe, and it can help you create a successful food business.
Guide to Creating Your Food Control Plan
MPI understands that while most businesses differentiate themselves from each other, many are inherently similar in function and offering. That’s why they offer FCP templates for some food business genres. A template Food Control Plan is a pre-evaluated plan for managing food safety. If your business activities are covered by one of the available templates, you can use this rather than creating your own custom plan. See if your business qualifies for a food control plan template here.
Manufacturers of high-risk food might not be so lucky. According to MPI, such food businesses need to develop a custom food control plan and register it to meet the requirements of the Food Act 2014. If other businesses who technically fit into a template FCP but they want to personalise their food safety management, they can also create a custom Food Control Plan.
In your custom FCP, you must identify the food safety risks involved in what you do and outline how you will manage them if and when they pop-up. Here’s the process:
- Develop your FCP, customising it to suit your unique businesses’ needs
- Have it evaluated by MPI
- Register it with MPI - and renew your registration every year
- Get checked by a verifier or auditor
- Follow your FCP to make food that’s safe for consumption
MPI has a wide range of information to help you create your own custom food control plan including some food control plan samples and food control plan examples - read the details here.
How to Implement Your FCP
Once you’ve got an approved and registered FCP, what’s the best way to implement it? First things first, make sure everyone in your team knows what the plan is and understands what’s expected of them to ensure you comply with legislation. If your staff require additional training, make it available for them.
Many food businesses use paperwork or spreadsheets to manage their FCP obligations. You might have a folder dedicated to daily tasks and another committed to monitoring fridge temperatures (and so on). If this is the system you follow, ensure you have a good process in place. It’s important to get your FCP right, but there can be a lot of room for human error associated with paperwork.
If you’re looking for a way to save time, hassle and paper consumption, implementing and managing your FCP electronically might be the answer for you. Safe Food Pro is an app that helps you manage your FCP by storing food safety documents, worksheets and food safety reports - anything food safety-related, really - in the Cloud.It’ll send you regular reports too so you can spend less time working on your business and more time working in your business. Because you can access it from anywhere at any time, you can always stay on top of your food safety management responsibilities, and you can add multiple users to the platform to empower your staff to stay up with the play too.
How Are You Tracking?
If you’re in the business of food, you hopefully understand your responsibilities when it comes to ensuring your consumers don’t get sick. Interested to see how your food business is tracking when it comes to food safety management? Take Safe Food Pro’s free food safety IQ test today to see if you’re hitting the mark or if you need some work to come up to speed. Remember, the more responsible your food safety processes, the safer your customers will be and the more successful your business will become. Makes perfect sense, really.
Do you struggle with managing your Food Safety Plan? Tell us about the challenges you face in the comments below.