Small Scale Food Processor Association SSFPA


Selecting a Food Safety Consultant

Activities required for food safety planning may require you to hire an experienced consultant to perform an initial assessment of your facility and to write a Proposed Work Plan for developing your food safety systems. Later, the consultant may help you to perform some of these activities.

A Food Safety or HACCP consultant will bring the technical knowledge and expertise that facilitates the implementation of the Good Manufacturing Practices* (GMPs) and Hazard Analysis of Critical Control Points (HACCP) systems in your facility.

Role of the Consultant

A consultant provides assistance according to your requirements and your current situation. Some services that a consultant should be able to provide are as follows:

  • Initial assessment of your facility ('gap analysis'). This will determine your needs with respect to requirements for GMP/HACCP implementation.
  • Assistance creating a work plan for developing and implementing your food safety system
  • Development of written programs
  • Implementation of GMP/HACCP systems
  • Employee GMP/HACCP training to both management and staff members involved in your Food Safety System (e.g. personnel practices, sanitation, etc.)
  • Development of a record keeping system
  • Assistance with the preparation for auditing and certification (e.g. internal audit)
  • Maintenance of your GMP/HACCP system (follow-up after certification)
  • Technical knowledge transfer to your staff (e.g. HACCP coordinator)

*Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) are also known as Prerequisite Programs.

How do you find and select a consultant?

For a list of consultants as appears in the "A Step by Step BC HACCP Plan" Workshop Manual, click here. The following contacts from the manual may also be of interest to you as well:

Appendix 2 – Commercial Laboratories and Process Authorities
Appendix 4  – Sanitation and Chemical Suppliers
Appendix 5  – Laboratory Equipment and Process Control

Before you hire a consultant you should discuss your needs and evaluate his/her qualifications:

  • Technical knowledge in food processing and/or food production (e.g. diploma or degree in Food Science, Microbiology, qualifications as auditor, etc.)
  • Experience implementing Food Safety Systems (e.g. experience with written programs, conducting HACCP training courses, etc.)
  • Willingness to work on site identifying the needs of your facility. The consultant should be committed to spend significant amount of time learning the daily operations to ensure a well-designed system.
  • Interest of the consultant to maintain the system once implemented (e.g. would the consultant provide follow-up support, training?)
  • Work history and references of previous jobs and previous clients (e.g., have any of his/her previous clients received third party recognition/certification?)

Preparing the agreement between you and your consultant

Once the consultant is selected, some key issues should be addressed before a contract is drawn up and signed. Some of these issues include:

  • Development of the plan and the activities involved in the project
  • Duration of the project
  • Identification of milestones
  • Deliverables. In addition to GMP auditing and writing a Work Plan, this may include training sessions, meetings, and preparation of forms and written programs.
  • Cost of the project (e.g. cost per hour, total cost) and payment options
  • Confidentiality (e.g. process, recipes) and Liability (e.g. Insurance coverage)

Working towards the implementation of your Food Safety System

  • You need to understand and evaluate the programs developed by the consultant, by testing the procedures and documentation requirements.
  • The programs should be feasible, effective and specific to your plant.
  • Regulatory requirements should be met throughout the programs.
  • Proper training of the staff involved with your operation is required for a successful implementation.
  • Once the Food Safety System is implemented; the consultant should transfer the technical knowledge to your staff to maintain the program.

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