Are you a US food importer or a manufacturer exporting food to the United States? Do you need FSVP to bring foreign goods into the United States? Did your customers or broker request HACCP, SQF, FSVP or HARPC?
All these confusing acronyms refer to food safety regulations and other manufacturing standards that are now mandatory or in great demand in the food industry. You may need a food safety consultant to help you navigate the laws, regulations or standards pertaining to food so that you know how to meet a specific set of requirements.
How can a Food Safety Consultant help me?
The role of the food safety consultant is primarily to help you gain knowledge and set clear goals and timelines and to act as a facilitator, trainer and motivator. Knowledge of food science and quality management is critical in the development and maintenance of a food safety program. Implementation of a food safety system based on a global food safety scheme such as SQF, requires project management skills. HACCP may be easier to put in place but resources (human, time and financial) and good time management are a necessity, especially for a business which is seeking certification. Working with a professional who wants you to succeed is very important. A good food safety consultant can guide you to reach your milestones and goals.
Depending on the size of your business, the consultant may be able to provide formal training or act as a food safety resource to your technical staff. Activities conducted by food safety consultants include performing assessments of your business against food safety requirements. The food safety professional can also actively take part in the monitoring and verification of your written food safety system. Some consultants will participate in the writing of procedures, food safety plans and corrective actions. Currently in demand are consultants with PCQI (Preventive Control Qualified Individual) credentials who can sign off on the development and maintenance of food safety plans based on FDA requirements. They can also develop, under FSMA and on behalf of US food importers, “Foreign Supplier Verification Programs” or FSVP programs.
What to look for in a Food Safety Consultant?
When hiring a consultant, look for a professional with knowledge of your industry and with the necessary experience and credentials. Experts may have trained as food scientists, food technologists, or microbiologists, may have further training in food law, or may hold food safety designations (see resources below). A good understanding of regulatory aspects and food safety trends is also critical.
You need to work with your consultant.
Lastly, it is important to remember that the food safety consultant cannot achieve compliance or certification for a client. The collaboration with a food safety expert will result in a positive outcome if there is a commitment to provide resources and to meet project milestones. In some cases, it may be necessary for the client to hire technical staff or an administrative assistant to oversee record-keeping requirements and system implementation details. Failure to hire an in-house food safety coordinator may halt a system’s implementation, compromising the facility’s goal of obtaining certification status. When such recognition is required for export or to sell to large retail stores, it may pay to hire the right food safety consultant to do things right the first time.
Do you have any questions regarding current food regulations? Contact Sirocco.
Food Safety Resources
- HACCP – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hazard_analysis_and_critical_control_points
- HARPC – https://www.fda.gov/food/guidanceregulation/fsma/ucm334115.htm
- FSVP – https://www.fda.gov/food/guidanceregulation/fsma/ucm361902.htm
- FSPCA – https://www.ifsh.iit.edu/fspca
- SQF scheme – https://www.sqfi.com/
- ASQ – CHA designation https://asq.org/cert/resource/pdf/certification/inserts/CHA%20Insert.pdf
- CCHP designation – http://certifiedhaccpprofessional.com/about-cchp/