So, you’re starting a business in the food industry. Congratulations!
You’ll probably already know that one of the first things you’ll need is a Food Control (or Food Safety) Plan. This plan involves documenting all the food safety practices that are required of you - the measuring of temperatures, pH levels, sanitation regimes, etc. It requires a lot of maintenance in order to be successful.
And you need to be successful in the carrying out of this plan to be successful in your business.
Step 1: Create a plan by following a template found online
Luckily the creation of the Food Control Plan is quite straightforward, if time consuming, as you’re provided with templates that are created to suit your personal business needs.
A simple google search should suffice: “Food control plan templates”. Or you can find them on www.mpi.govt.nz.
Step 2: Register your plan with your local council.
You will have to pay a fee to register your plan. Yes sir, you have to spend money to make money.
On top of the FCP you will also have to fill out a registration form and a scope of operations form, spelling out exactly what your business does.
Yes there are a lot of forms to fill out, but it’s all about keeping your customers and your business safe. It is definitely worth it.
Get checked by a verifier. They will come by to ensure you’re following safe practices and making safe food. If you have a new business, then this verification has to take place within 6 weeks of registering.
After going through the food plan, you will have seen that there are a lot of tasks you have to complete daily in order to maintain safe food practices. At this point it may be a little discouraging, as now you’re faced with the stressful task of filling out daily details of the food you cook, their temperature, the temperature of your refrigerator, the pH of certain foods, your cleaning, your staff illnesses - it all adds up into a fairly intimidating pile.
Your next step is facing the intimidating pile head-on and fulfill those tasks, because if you don’t maintain your food to a high standard the verifier’s checks increase in frequency. The verifier may come every 18 months, or they may come every 3 months, and unfortunately for you, you have to pay for these visits. If the visits are frequent, your payments are frequent.
Getting the plan in place and Maintaining Ongoing use
If you’re spending a lot of time in the day carrying out the steps involved in maintaining food safety, recording the data, and writing it down, you may get demotivated. In order to maintain motivation to instigate the plan and carry it out you’re going to need to make it as efficient as possible. Here’s how:
If your business has a team, then it is time to implement teamwork. Give each person in your team a daily role in maintaining food safety and recording it accurately. This breaks up the work and makes it less of a task.
Another idea is to give out food safety goals, and when those goals are met, provide rewards to your staff. That reward may be monetary, or it may be as simple as positive reinforcement. Studies have been done on the benefits of communication and positive feedback, and it has been found that the feedback can be more effective than financial reward. Be sure to thank your staff for fulfilling their roles to ensure use of the FCP is maintained.
An important aspect of following your food plan efficiently is having accurate, easy to use tools to make it an easy process. For example, for recording the temperature you can purchase a digital temperature data logger. Not only is it accurate, but it tracks the data for you, allowing you to leave it to its job and to refer to the data when you need it. You can also get humidity loggers, or loggers that do both temperature and humidity.
There are a large range of food safety tools at your disposal, with ‘tool’ being the operative word. Tools are useful, so make use of them.
Get onto completing that FCP now. If you have a good team and good tools, you’ll have no trouble implementing and maintaining the plan and keeping your food and customers safe. Once you’re on a roll in terms of efficiency you will have more time to make delicious (and safe) food