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What is a Food Safety Management System?
A Food Safety Management System (FSMS) is a set of measures that a food business adheres to; it ensures the safety of the food which the staff prepares. Whilst the exact FSMS you employ as a food business is up to you, UK businesses have a legal requirement to implement one.
Your FSMS should be oriented around the principles of Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) procedures. HACCP is an internationally-recognised method of food hazard management; it involves pre-emptive, responsive and scheduled procedures to ensure safety.
Your FSMS should always be understandable and employable; staff should know the correct procedure for every category of hazardous incident. However, there are different kinds of measures:
- Responsive measures detail how one might act in the case of a sudden crisis, such as customers vomiting or contaminated food.
- Preemptive measures refer to actions you take to prevent a specific hazard.
- Scheduled measures are those which don’t target any particular hazard but are holistically good for kitchen/restaurant safety.
- Record-keeping measures take all of the above into account. For example, you should have a checklist for all of your employees’ daily pre-emptive actions, such as taking the bins out. You should also log any incidents in which you needed to take responsive measures.
Why do I need a Food Safety Management System?
- The dangers of cross-contamination – There are a wealth of potential causes of cross-contamination in a restaurant environment; these are, worryingly, very easy mistakes to make. Whilst the effects are often not too concerning, occasionally it can cause severe illness and even death. A sophisticated FSMS can reduce these issues, ensuring that easy mistakes are ironed out by good habits and routines.
- Your legal responsibility – As previously mentioned, you are legally required to ensure that any food you serve is safe to eat, via an FSMS. Furthermore, in the UK, you have a responsibility for the safety of your customers under the 1990 Food Safety Act.
- Your moral responsibility – In addition to this, you have a moral obligation to look after your customers’ health and interests. After all, when you open a restaurant, you’re entering the hospitality business; enjoyment and wellbeing of the customers should be high on your list of priorities.
- Environmental Health Inspections – When the EHO inevitably visits, you should be able to demonstrate that all of your staff have suitable food hygiene training. Although not mandatory, you should keep verifiable training certificates in your records.
Good record-keeping, alongside an appropriate FSMS, is vital to limit your liability and ensure the safety of your customers. We recommend the government’s Safer Food, Better Business pack for the specifics, as well as printable checklists and daily logs.