With the March 26 deadline looming, food processors across the province are currently scrambling to meet B.C.’s new food safety regulations. Under amendments made to B.C.’s Public Health Act in 2013, every food premise in the region will be required, by law, to develop, maintain, and follow a Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP)-based food safety and sanitation plan.
The implementation of the legislation has already been subject to delays. But even with the extra time to prepare, the vast majority of B.C.’s 5,500 food processors and manufacturers will likely fail to comply when the new regulations come into effect the end of March. Failure to do so will not only put consumers at risk of food poisoning and other safety hazards, but, with penalties ranging from fines to criminal proceedings, could also endanger businesses.
So with the clock ticking ahead of the March 26 deadline, how can you prepare for the implementation of B.C.’s new Food Premises regulations?
1) Get with the Plan for Food Safety Compliance
It may now be a legal requirement, but putting together a comprehensive food safety and sanitation plan is actually good news for businesses. From ingredients right through to storage and distribution, a HACCP plan can help companies control food safety throughout the entire supply chain.
The obvious benefit of a rigorous food safety plan is regulatory compliance and liability protection, but there are also a myriad of knock-on benefits for businesses. Traditional food safety systems often provide a reactive approach to food safety, but a HACCP plan is preventative, helping avoid issues before they even occur. Excellence in food safety can also help improve food quality standards, boost customer confidence, increase production yields, and ultimately save money – with companies reporting savings of between $60,000 and $150,000 per year.
2) Implement It
Food producers are faced with two main options when it comes to building a comprehensive HACCP food safety and sanitation plan. They can either employ outside consultants to conduct an analysis of their company and produce a plan to develop their food safety systems, implement their own systems using in-house resources, or utilize food safety technology for automated compliance.
The route you take will depend largely on the size and scale of your operation. Developing your own food safety system in-house is something most food facilities can’t afford, requiring staffing and resources to get up to standard and often still falling short of the latest resources and standards. An outside consultant can also be prohibitively expensive, often as much as hiring a full time employee. With the right technology, automated compliance is the better solution for facilities of all sizes, facilitating food safety excellence and education throughout the entire organization without placing all the burden on your staff or relying solely on external support that may change with time.
3) Allocate Resources
A successful food safety plan requires buy-in from every level of your organization, from the board room to the assembly lines. However some companies don’t have the manpower required to manage such a plan. That’s where technology comes in. Advances in technology is helping businesses automate their food safety plans with innovative new products, streamlining what was once a laborious process.
The latest food safety applications are making the creation, management and implementation of internationally-compliant food safety programs easier than ever before. Like every other part of our lives, this kind of technological advancement cuts out laborious pencil pushing, taking the hard work out of your HACCP food safety plan by automating processes across your entire organization and reducing the risk of human error with advanced features like allergen control. Whether it’s by replacing hard copy files with user-friendly cloud-based systems or providing mobile-access to information, these technologies are enabling food processors to manage an increasing range of risks more effectively and efficiently. It can even help teach your staff about food safety and your own HACCP program.
4) Planning for the Short and the Long Term
With the clock ticking, software also provides the quickest path for your business to meet the deadline for B.C.’s new Food Premises regulations. By replacing paper-based systems with electronic data, food safety technology helps you create an effective food safety program that is tailored to your products, processes, and business with maximum speed and efficiency. In addition to helping you to meet the March 26 deadline, food safety software can also benefit your business in the long term.
As time passes, your business will change and the needs of your food safety plan will need to change with it. Operations grow, processes adapt, and laws are changed; one of the benefits of using technology to implement and manage your food safety plan is that it can adapt and react with your company. This is especially true of businesses looking to expand their operations overseas where stringent food safety programs are now a requirement in markets like the United States.
Recent changes made under the Foreign Supplier Verification Program (FSVP) for example impose heightened food safety requirements on foreign suppliers, and the onus is now on businesses to open up their food safety programs to inspection. Technology can help to ensure that you are compliant, but it can also make it easier to share this information with parties south of the border. This functionality can also take the stress out of any audits that you may have now or in the future, allowing you to automatically produce appropriate documentation as well as offering instant access to logs and records. You can even give auditors access to review your documentation digitally ahead of the audit date.
5) Reap the Rewards
While the race is on to reach the legislative requirement by March 26, companies should see the impending deadline as an opportunity as well as an obligation. Alongside offering peace of mind and preventing issues before they arise, an effective food safety program can reduce waste, improve yield/productivity, increase consumer confidence, and even open your business up to new markets overseas. Establishing excellence in food safety can also help to protect your company in the long term, giving you the tools you need to not only meet the challenges faced by the industry today, but safeguard your operation against those it will face in the future.
So how do you ensure that you are ready for B.C.’s new food safety regulations? For many companies the first step is to stop viewing the process as a pain point for their business, and to start looking at it as an opportunity instead.
If you need help meeting the March 26 deadline, there’s still time! Contact our team for information on how software can help you to build your food safety plans.
Getting started with Icicle typically takes less than a week depending on the type of facility. Apply to join the Icicle community of food safety excellence now.