Facility versus Product Food Safety Certification

Posted: Tuesday, February 3, 2015 by Allie Gallant

If You’re Not Facility-Focused, You Miss Out

Is your food safety management system facility-focused? If it isn’t, you’re missing a huge opportunity to protect your business and your consumers from risk.

If you look at any aspect of life, it’s usually better to prevent risk rather than waiting for calamity to strike and then trying to fix it.

If you have a leaky pipe you can scramble to put buckets under the stream of water, but eventually the damage will take its toll. It’s a much better idea to locate the source of the leak and patch it.

If you drive a car it’s better to invest in regular tune ups, rather than waiting until you’ve got a blown gasket on the road.

And if you work in the food industry, it’s better to take an active approach to controlling risks like bacteria and allergens instead of waiting until you have a food recall on your hands and scrambling to identify and destroy the dangerous products.

This is the difference between facility-based certification and product-based certification. The former is preventative. The latter is reactive. And like anything in life, prevention is the key.

What is Facility-Based Food Safety Certification?

So why exactly is facility certification widely recognized as superior to product certification? The main reason is that facility certification is holistic; it manages every aspect of your operation. A product-based approach only looks at one small element of the larger system. Testing of products is imperfect. Variables such as sample size, analytical error (meaning false positives or negatives, a possibility even with more advanced testing), and a lack of root cause analysis are all pitfalls that limit your ability to manage risk. Modern food safety management systems (FSMS) emphasize prevention, root cause analysis and employee engagement, all of which are missing with the product approach.

Facility certification gives you:

– a clearer picture of risks,

– better control of risks,

– the ability to prevent problems and continually improve,

– more protection against recalls and the resulting damage to your brand, and

– staff engagement at every level in the organization.

In short, facility certification puts you on the cutting edge of food safety management. Not to mention that it’s a must if you want to become certified to a standard recognized by the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI), a big asset in the competitive global market place.

If you’re certified to a Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) standard, a standard recognized by GFSI, or a program designed to be complimentary to GFSI, you can be assured your FSMS is facility-based. If you’re not there yet, some key things to champion in your operation include:

– sanitation and hygiene (good manufacturing and good handling practices),

– employee food safety training (both in the classroom and on the floor),

– management leadership in driving a food safety culture (especially leading by example),

– food laboratory testing (including monitoring, data collection and long-term trend analysis),

– facility audits, and

– traceability and supply chain management.

HACCP and GFSI are the foundation and starting point for a facility-based FSMS and encompass these traits and more. If you’re not already certified to a HACCP-based or a GFSI standard, consider it.

The bottom line is that a facility-based FSMS is more successful at controlling risks than product-based systems. Review your operation to make sure you’re taking a facility approach, and protect your business and your consumers from risks to food.


About the Author

Allie Gallant is a freelance writer and blogger.


Interested in more articles like this? Visit GFSR’s web site today!

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