Is your food safety policy ready for 2017?


february 2017, Jeroen Sleenhoff

Is your food safety policy for 2017 ready yet? You haven’t just drafted this policy because you’re obliged to according to the norm, have you? The food safety policy for 2017 should be filled with well-considered, ambitious and realistic objectives. I have made a list of tips that will come in handy when drafting the food safety policy.

Think like a strategist

Stop with nonsense objectives. Think like a strategist and have a vision for the future regarding the food safety of your company. Take the five food safety trends into account that will dominate 2017:

  1. Just a single GFSI-certificate on the wall won’t be enough.
  2. The future of food safety is digital.
  3. Specialists are the new QA-managers.
  4. Consumers demand better food safety. Ignoring this wish is detrimental for the company image.
  5. Private labels continue to grow, especially online!
Not the QA-manager’s party

I see more and more companies making clear policy choices in the area of food safety, quality, service, communication, and sustainability. I expect that companies that dare to take such a stance in 2017 will be the most successful. The food safety policy is also no longer only the responsibility of the QA-manager, but will become important for the strategic path of the whole company. So, pull the director out of his chair and have him contribute too.

What you need

Where do you want to be in a year? What do you need to reach these goals? Are these goals realistic and ambitious? These are questions that need answering in order to determine the direction for the coming year. Involve a third party to think along. I’ve been allowed to do this many times in my past as a consultant with KTBA. I have incorporated surprising insights into the policy of food corporations. Brainstorm sessions are important.

Company culture? Certainly…

A policy is something you make together. Make sure that your policy is in line with the company culture and verify this with every situation, decision, objective or method of working. This ensures that the policy is supported by the whole organisation.

Catchy slogans

I don’t need to tell a QA-manager that objectives need to be drawn up SMART. Always keep these objectives short and tangible. What is your company’s vision and mission? Does the food safety policy fit onto the strategic plan? I have seen many examples from practice that contradicted themselves. Avoid this.

Measurement is the key to knowledge

If a policy has been clearly prepared, then plans will follow to make the policy a reality. If you can compare the results with your company policy throughout the year, you will increase the chance of success!

Plans are often surpassed by everyday affairs. Such as client that need attention, consumer complaints, upcoming audits or maintenance of the quality system. Having a clear goal in mind is therefore essential in order to actually reach company objectives. Just as important is to know where you are, so that you can make adjustments in time. So, it is very important to make sure that you have an understanding of both the results as in the performance level you should be at. This way you can see if you are on schedule. Computerising your quality system, for example by using dashboards, can be very useful in doing so.

The moral of the story

Don’t simply write a policy, but make it a part of the company’s vision, mission, culture and strategic plan. Involve the management, personnel and sparring partners in drafting your plan. There’s no room for mediocracy in the marketplace. Measure your results and compare them to the company objectives, then you’ll know if you’re still on track throughout the year.


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