What to look for when selecting a Food Safety Consultant…
Taking on and developing a food safety system is a big task for any food business. More often than not it falls on the shoulders of one individual member of staff. Whether they have some qualifications or experience in food safety or more often no previous experience, it is a large project to implement and maintain for one person to steer. There could be more pressing reasons why you need outside help, such as, a negative visit from the local EHO, a customer is demanding that you have certain processes in place before they will trade with you, a product recall or simply by putting good food safety processes in place you are enhancing and protecting your brand.
Therefore, calling in a food safety consultant is a logical step. However, take some thought and time to make sure you get the right person to help you reap the rewards that a well designed and implemented food safety process can bring to your company. You need someone you can trust, that will help guide your business in the right direction without un-necessary confusing paperwork that just doesn’t fit your business. There is nothing to be gained by having a complicated system that is an off the shelf manual which you have had no involvement in the creation off, it won’t help improve your business or the bank balance. We have recently received a couple of enquiries from business’ that have found themselves in this dilemma. Having paid a company to provide them with a food safety system that is not tailored to them, is un-usable and proving costly as they are having to start from scratch again.
So how would go about finding a food safety consultant.
Do I know any food safety professionals from previous working experience? Yes? Did they do a good job at the time? Yes? Look them up then on Linked-In or the web. Get in touch. Problem solved in many ways. However, it is rarely as easy as this.
Okay what next? You have no or little experience of an outside consultant.
Firstly, ask contacts in your networking sector for any relevant contacts that they have used in the past. Just because they worked for a meat company helping them achieve SALSA accreditation does not mean they are suitable for you. Consider what certification you require and whether or not the consultant has experience in your sector. Another thought to consider is if the consultant is registered; are they an official SALSA mentor, registered with IFST etc.
If you are starting from scratch with a web search use terms like food safety consultant or SALSA accreditation or BRC accreditation or HACCP development. When a screen of results comes up I don’t know about you but I tend to ignore the adverts top and bottom and look at what is in the middle. To me the middle results are there because a company is active, with lots of clients looking at them… has not just taken the easy option and paid to be there. Next step is to call them, discuss your needs, see how they can help you and whether the certification or your goal in food safety your aiming for is the right one for the business. Personally I would also ask for a reference or two from similar clients to yourself that they have helped recently. Avoid anyone that say they can create a system without you having to do anything, as much as that sounds the easy option it won’t pay off in the long run. Remember you have to use this system and own it!
Set an initial date for a visit. For me on that visit I would want my food safety consultant to put together a report of where my business is at now in terms of its food safety systems against the standard the business is being aimed at and agree what and how is the next stage for me to reach my business goals.
A food safety consultant should get you to your business goals more easily now. So off you go…get a food safety consultant.
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