– OPINION –

By Rebecca Guzy

Managing a food safety program in a small business means making critical decisions with limited resources. During this Food Safety Summit 2022 session, you’ll gather fundamental food safety insights and contacts to surround yourself with the training and resources needed to protect your business, customers, consumers, and brand. This session has been designed for quality assurance and food safety managers in small businesses with limited internal resources to perform all the roles necessary for a successful food safety program. Whether you’re starting a new food safety program for a growing small business or continually improving your current food safety program, there will be nuggets for you. The session will focus on three learning objectives: 1) How do you know what you don’t know? 2) Address resource and knowledge gaps in your food safety program; and 3) Step up your food safety game.

How do you know what you don’t know? For small operations, knowledge of the basic components of a food safety program may be limited. Small organizations are often built on assumptions, processes, and procedures that worked when the business started, less complex, or less subject to regulatory, consumer, or auditing scrutiny. The assumptions that worked in the past may not have been based on data or supported by solid science. An overview of the fundamental programs needed to ensure food safety – Sanitation SSOPs, Environmental Monitoring, Supplier Approval and Verification, HARPC/HACCP Development, Process Validation, etc. – will be presented along with resources to help develop robust programs.

Often, small organizations don’t realize they have a lack of resources until they deal with a regulator, auditor, or crisis. The second key learning objective, “Bridging the Gaps,” is intended as a thought-provoking insight into the resources and contacts needed to deal with these situations. Being a food safety professional in a small business requires you to have a broad base knowledge of many topics – sanitation chemicals, microbiology, food science, regulatory compliance, heat processing, statistics and many more. However, food safety professionals will often need expert support to make key decisions and get those decisions accepted by senior management and regulators. It is essential to have connections with technical experts and organizations as well as access to resources before you need them. Some of the resources covered will include professional organizations and their legal and technical experts, sanitation experts, treatment authorities, laboratories – microbiological and chemical/physical – and product inspection companies.

The final learning objective is “Up your game”, how to continuously learn and stay ahead of food safety challenges. Food safety is a large and evolving field with threats to business, brand, customers and consumers coming from many sources. A food professional in a small business must stay abreast of evolving issues in their industry and keep their management team up to date. Recommendations will be provided on how to stay abreast of critical issues affecting your business.

About the Author: Rebecca Guzy is Director of Food Safety and Research for Frick Quality Meats. She is scheduled to present “Food Safety for Small Operations – Wearing All Food Safety Hats at Once” at 4:15 p.m. Wednesday, May 11, during Food Safety Summit 2022 at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont. , HE . To register visit www.foodsafetysummit.com.

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