Food Safety Management System

Led by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) with the participation of the provincial and territorial governments, the Food Safety Recognition Program is a process of review, assessment, recognition and ongoing monitoring of the technical soundness and administrative effectiveness of on-farm and post-farm food safety systems developed and implemented by Canada's national organizations.

A food safety system is comprised of managerial and administrative structures and processes to facilitate food safety program's design and delivery, ongoing maintenance, evaluation and continual improvement. These structures and processes are detailed in the national organization's food safety program management system. This management system must be structured in a format to allow for the documentation of activities for audit purposes.

To gain recognition for its food safety program, the national organization is expected to meet or exceed the government requirements for the management system. To ascertain it meets government requirements, the management system and associated documentation is submitted to the CFIA for Pre-Recognition Stage One - Part Two (Technical Review of Management System and Associated Documentation). A gap analysis is performed to identify deficiencies. Satisfactory fulfillment of the requirements is verified through the third-party audits of Pre-Recognition Stage Two (Implementation and Third-Party Audit) and the implementation assessments of Pre-Recognition Stage Three of the recognition process.

Following attainment of recognition, ongoing monitoring by way of regularly scheduled ongoing assessments and triggered assessments will determine if the national producer organization's food safety management system is maintaining its administrative effectiveness.

The four-component food safety management system

An analogy of a food safety management system can be made with a four-drawer filing cabinet. This filing cabinet resides in the national organization's head office. Each drawer contains the procedures, records and other relevant documentation for the component's design and delivery, ongoing maintenance, evaluation, and continual improvement.

1. General Management Component

The General Management Component oversees the entire system. It chronicles the national organization's roles and responsibilities, policies and procedures regarding human and monetary resources; communication plans; preventive and corrective action plans; and evaluation and improvement mechanisms for the general management system as a whole.

Required elements of the general management component:

  1. Policy
  2. Objectives
  3. Plan
  4. Scope
  5. Organization, responsibility, and authority
  6. Provision of resources
  7. Documentation maintenance - review, approval, and revision (identification of changes)
  8. Management review
  9. Internal audit
  10. Corrective and preventive action
  11. Document and record control
  12. Outsourcing
  13. Conflict of interest and impartiality
  14. Confidentiality
  15. Training, education and communication
  16. Training, education and communication plans for the general management component

2. Technical Component

The Technical Component contains the plans and procedures for the range of activities required for the development, implementation, ongoing operation and management of the national organization's food safety program generic Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points model and commodity-specific producer manual. It covers such aspects as the design and delivery of the program; assembling a team of relevant experts; communication plans; contingency plans; producer and farm employee education; and evaluation and improvement mechanisms.

3. Conformance Component

The Conformance Component covers the procedures to assess individual producer conformity to the requirements of the commodity-specific producer manual. The procedures include producer requests for on-farm or post-farm audit initiation and audit-readiness assessments; auditor assignment and scheduling; performing the audit; producer-conformity assessment reporting; issuing of documents of conformance to the producer; and evaluation and improvement mechanisms.

4. Auditor-Training Component

The Auditor-Training Component focuses on the education of food safety auditors. The training material for this component is organized into a general module and commodity-specific module.

The general module covers, but is not limited to, basic audit principles; Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points principles; information on and purpose of initial assessment audits, interim audits and re-assessment audits; confidentiality; conflict of interest and impartiality issues; and corrective and preventive action procedures.

The commodity-specific module covers, but is not limited to, the intent of the food safety program; determining producer conformance to the food safety program; reporting the audit findings; evaluation of responses to corrective action requests; audit evaluation; and issuing of documents of conformance to the producer.

Documentation for the auditor-training component includes course objectives, content and materials; examination and grading methods; training schedules; course evaluation and improvement mechanisms.

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