Restaurants need to constantly work hard to ensure that customers’ needs and concerns are being heard. Customers’ health and overall well-being must not be at risk. As people become more and more aware of the importance of health and wellness, information related to ingredients, nutritional value, and food safety play a huge role.
Food safety isn’t something that can be controlled in one single step. We need to put in an effort at every step of the food chain and processing to ensure it. This is where Food Safety Management Systems come into play.
A Food Safety Management System is a tool that is used to make sure that food safety is ensured in your restaurant premises. It is primarily a set of standards that your restaurant operations will have to meet. This set of standards has been established with the aim of directing as well as controlling aspects related to food safety.
If your restaurant has a certification for its Food Safety Management System, your customers can be assured that you are concerned about food safety. They don’t have to worry about the quality of your products and services, given that these already meet the requirements of the Food Safety Policy dictated by ISO 22000.
No matter how big or small your business is or what kind of food you deal with, it should function according to the norms laid down by ISO to provide consistent, safe products and services to customers.
Issuing Authority of the Food Safety Management System
ISO is the International Organization for Standardization. It develops and publishes International Standards. These standards are well known on a global level and are widely used across countries. With globalization, international trade has become an everyday phenomenon. Every single day, people consume products that have crossed multiple national boundaries. These products pass through various steps of production, processing, and delivery to ultimately reach the consumers. So, global standards are the best possible way to ensure the safety of food all across the world, according to prescribed requisites.
ISO also develops standards across various fields. This includes many sectors such as Occupational Health and Safety, Medical Devices, Social Responsibility, Road Safety and much more. These standards comprise of specifications, guidelines, and characteristics that must be used to make sure that all products, processes, and services are perfectly fit for their destined purpose.
However, it isn’t ISO itself that actually provides certification. This is done by an external certification body. All ISO does is produce standards related to certification processes that are then used by certification bodies.
ISO standards offer advantages to everyone who is part of the supply chain- all the way from manufacturers and regulators to retailers and consumers. This way, prospective customers don’t have to double-check the products and services offered to them. They also don’t have to worry about any possible hazards. They can rely on certifications and remain free from any worries.
The International Standard laid down by ISO 22000 for a Food Safety Management System is much needed among organizations that strive to ensure the safety of their consumers at the time of consumption, against any Food Safety Hazards.
To establish an effective Food Safety Management System, the ISO 22000 Standard is widely used across the world. ISO 22000:2018 enumerates the requirements for a food safety management system and your restaurant can get certified for it. It maps out what an organization needs to do to demonstrate its ability to control food safety hazards to ensure that the food produced is safe. This standard can be used by any organization regardless of its size or position in the food chain.
This international standard is one that lays down rules and requirements for organizations such as restaurants. The main objective at hand is to make sure that the food or beverages provided for consumption are safe and that they do not pose any kind of risk to consumers’ health.
The Food Safety Management System also uses HAACP or Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points so that overall quality is kept in check. This is a system of principles that helps food business operators look at how they handle food. It also introduces procedures to ensure that the food produced is safe to eat.
ISO 22000:2018 also takes into account certain elements involved in Good Manufacturing Processes (GMP). These are the practices required to conform to the basic set of guidelines recommended by agencies which control the authorization and licensing of the manufacturing and distribution of food and beverages. They provide a list of requirements that a manufacturer must meet, to assure that the food they sell are consistently high in quality, from batch to batch, for their intended use.
So, the role of ISO 22000:2018 is to clearly list the requirements that are needed for a food safety management system to ultimately be effective. This encompasses everything an organization needs to do consistently to have control over any food safety hazards that might pop up, and ensure consumer safety.
ISO 22000 also helps restaurants in putting a Food Safety Management System into place that adds to their overall performance. It improves their ability to provide sustainable and safe food articles. It also lowers the risk of any food safety problems. It has a strong link with the United Nations’ Codex Alimentarius or the Food Code, which is an internationally recognized series of standards and guidelines meant to develop food safety guidelines for governments of various countries.
Safe and sustainable food production is the prime objective. So in a restaurant, this would mean that food safety is ensured at every step of the way from the site of production to the point of consumption. All possible food-borne hazards should be prevented, eliminated and controlled. Restaurants must take adequate precautions.
Food Safety Management System Declaration
In India, the FSSAI or the Food Safety Standards Authority of India issues an FSSAI license. Any person or business that takes part in food manufacturing, food processing or distribution needs to have this license.
To apply for this license, you will have to submit an FSMS or Food Safety Management System declaration. Through this, you will primarily state that:
- Your restaurant has a plan for food safety that ensures all food articles are stored and cooked in hygienic and safe environments as laid down by FSSAI Rules and the FSSAI Act, 2006.
- Your business will set a food safety management system in place and get it certified by an Accredited Agency once the Agency is notified by the Food Authority.
- Your business meets all general sanitary and hygiene requirements that come under the Food Safety and Standards (Licensing and Registration of Food Business) Regulations, 2011.
The FSSAI Act clearly states that every food business operator in India needs to have a valid FSSAI registration if they’re involved in any food production or distribution-related processes. Even a petty food business operator who operates on a small scale needs to acquire this license.
While submitting as FSMS Declaration, you will have to follow these steps:
- When you submit your FSSAI application, make sure that you submit your FSMS Declaration. This declaration has to be printed on your restaurant’s letterhead and must be signed by the persons applying for the license, which is stated in the application. Once this is done, you can go ahead and upload your FSMS declaration on the FSSAI portal.
- Your FSMS Declaration will cover multiple aspects. You will have state the names of the owners or partners of the restaurant. Then, you will have to explicitly state the name of the company, along with its entire address in the state or Union Territory that you’ve opened or plan to open your restaurant in. Whether you’re applying for a new license, converting an existing license, modifying an old license or simply renewing an existing license, you will need to submit an FSMS Declaration.
- Next, you will have to mention the nature of your business. You’ll pick the option of ‘restaurant’, which is one of the broad categories that are an option to choose from.
- After these details have been covered, you will have to attest that your restaurant has a specific food safety plan set in place to ensure that all food and beverages satisfy the requirements mentioned in the FSS Act of 2006 and the rules and requirements it states. You will also attest that you plan to put a Food Safety Management System into place and get it certified in the future from an Accredited Agency.
- Finally, the declaration will have to be signed by the applicants with a stamp or a seal, along with their names, addresses, contact numbers and the date and place of the declaration being signed.
Benefits of having a Food Safety Management System
There are a lot of perks that come with a Food Safety Management System. So if you’re wondering why you need one at all, there are multiple benefits that come about with an effective Food Safety Management System:
- It plays an important role in identifying any hazards that might show up in the process of food preparation. This way, you can then plan on how to prevent these hazards.
- It ensures food safety at a global level. So if you’re looking to expand your business abroad as well, you wouldn’t have to worry about new safety requirements since you already follow a standard that is internationally accepted and not limited to your country.
- It is a great way to ensure that your food manufacturers and distributors also share the same goal of consumer safety and follow certain rules for it. You don’t have to cross-check the quality of the raw materials or ingredients you receive.
- You don’t have to go out of the way to meet legal or corporate requirements. Your certification does it for you. This will help you save a lot of time and money that you otherwise would have had to spend on legal advice or sketching out guidelines for food safety in your kitchen.
- Local or national food safety standards for retail might need you to acquire an ISO standard to prove that you do focus on consumer safety. With a certification, you don’t have to deal with the hassle of more legal terms or requirements.
- All raw materials, ingredients and food products are safe and hygienic. While this is great for the customers, it also protects chefs and workers or anyone who is involved in the preparation of food.
- If your customers know that you meet prescribed safety requirements, it reinforces their confidence in you as well as your products. This, in turn, improves your brand image and builds a strong lasting identity associated with your restaurant.
- Any possibility of getting afflicted with food-borne diseases is highly minimized. This benefits customers as well as personnel in the kitchen – anyone who is involved in the process of food preparation or food consumption.
- If your restaurant is known to meet international safety standards, this improves the image of your restaurant by leaps and bounds in the eyes of investors and prospective partners. All the stakeholders who work with you will see you as more reliable and secure if they’re aware that you implement world-class hazard controls in your restaurant.
To sum up, an efficient Food Safety Management System can help immensely to make your restaurant successful. Getting certified helps you in a lot of ways and ensures the well-being of many people involved with your restaurant. It keeps you from having to worry about multiple aspects such as expanding overseas, worrying about the quality of products you receive, health risks your personnel and customers might have to go through and much more.
With advancements being made in the food industry every now and then, it has become increasingly important to invest in a sound Food Safety Management System. A standard developed by the International Organization for Standardization can boost your operations and make running a restaurant much simpler.