In this article we will discuss the benefits of using a food safety consultant in a variety of food businesses ranging from homebased startups to large global food manufacturers with a catalogue of commodities. Each business type has their own set of obstacles to overcome to be successful; we will discuss how each can leverage the benefits of a food safety consultant.

Startup businesses

For thousands of people, the American dream is to make and sell food. Some are old family recipes that receive endless compliments over the years, and some are new and exciting products with a diverse flavor profile. Regardless, these typically start off as a home-based business, or make use of a startup commercial kitchen to fine tune the production process. This brave small business owner wears many hats. The roles they assume are often functions they have no experience with. This creates a steep learning curve for the business owner to adapt to. For example, the owner of the business may be responsible for leasing agreements, recipe formulation, product scalability while maintaining authenticity, supply-chain management, packaging design, branding, shelf-life studies, and labeling. Marketing their products can be even more of a challenge. The owner may engage in buyer meetings, social media marketing, attending farmers markets, developing an online store, building consumer interest, and promoting confidence in their product. While all these activities are necessary to achieve the dream, we have often found food safety is overlooked or not understood; yet a single food safety incident has potential to kill the business. When startup businesses engage Global Food Safety Consultants (GFSC), we support them by reviewing the foods formulation, business suppliers, production processes, equipment, storage, distribution, and other areas to secure a safe, quality, and authentic food product. A small startup business can leverage a food safety consultant to achieve corporate level food safety support without the burden of hiring an inhouse employee. The business owner can operate with peace of mind knowing that controls are in place to secure the safety of their food products. The businesses customers will thank them! GFSC has secure and strong partnerships with laboratories, labeling experts, packaging providers, growers, packers and copackers, pest management firms, and many more to assure your success in the food industry.

Small business

While still focusing on growth, a small business has overcome many of the startup obstacles. Typically, a small business has a small, dedicated team of staff members to handle essential business functions. In this business type, we often see a nominated staff member take on the responsibilities for food safety. It may be a team member from accounting, or human resources, but none the less, this is the person in charge of food safety. We understand at this point in your company’s growth, you cannot justify hiring an educated food safety expert with years of experience. Small businesses benefit from using a food safety consultant because they get an experienced food safety professional to help make business decisions. They do not have to rely on their delegated staff member to make difficult food safety decisions. These small businesses and their delegated staff feel comfortable during operation because a system is in place to secure the safety, quality, and authenticity of the food. The delegated team member can focus on the day-to-day activities while your food safety consultant secures the success of the food safety management system. Typically, businesses will opt. to engage a consultant to help drive the business in a way that makes sense. We generally recommend Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) certification to help pave the way for future business success.

Medium Business

No longer a startup or small business, a medium business typically has their own facility or facilities with a team of full-time employees manufacturing food products. With this business type, we generally interact with a full-time experienced food safety professional who often has an associate or assistant in the food safety or quality department. With day-to-day responsibilities consuming their time, they mostly use the services of an outsourced consultant for the following:

Quarterly and annual audits: An independent set of eyes overseeing production, policies and verification activities is truly valued, especially when an obstacle arises. Food Safety Consultants can offer solutions the business may not have considered to resolve anomalies. Our goal is to grant you peace of mind knowing you are always ready for a food safety inspection.
Quality Troubleshooting: If you are experiencing quality issues, our expert staff take away the guess work by conducting a formal root cause analysis to determine the true source of the issue, and put you on the path to corrective action.
Special projects: Whether you are purchasing new equipment, moving locations, or deciding to open an in-house laboratory, our experienced staff can participate as a guide to offer support, or we can do all the heavy lifting to deliver a completed project.
Training: We offer training programs to all levels of the organization on a variety of topics from Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) overview, current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMP), Foreign Supplier Verification Program (FSVP), and much more.

Large Business

Generally, large food businesses have a team of food safety and quality professionals on staff. It may be a blend of food safety and quality experts, or a team that has received training tailored to the company’s specific processes. A food safety or quality manager may be responsible for a single location or may be responsible for multiple locations. Their role should include compliance capacity, oversight of day-to-day activities, supplier management, conducting food safety audits, respond to buyer food safety questionnaires, special projects, and implementation of the company’s food safety strategy. A food safety or quality director may oversee the company wide success of the food safety program, set policy, and have responsibility for regulatory compliance, budget management, etc. With a fleet of food safety professionals on staff, why would this type of business need a consultant? Great question, we are often engaged by large food businesses for a variety of services. Several examples are outlined below.
Second party audits: An audit of your raw ingredients, packaging, labeling, or storage suppliers to assure food safety hazards are addressed for supply-chain control.
Secondary location inspections: Large businesses can have multiple locations to meet demand. Commonly, the food safety or quality professional is responsible for multiple locations, but due to workload or challenges in commuting, the secondary locations do not receive the same attention as the primary factory. This results in product inconsistencies from lack of employee training and absent oversight of food safety verification activities, manufacturing processes, and the quality management system. A simple solution is to outsource inspections, troubleshooting, training, or special projects to a food safety consultant.
Cleaning and sanitation programs: Effective cleaning and sanitation practices are critical to food safety and even more essential in a facility managing both allergen and allergen-free products. Our experienced staff partner with your team to write and implement Sanitation Standard Operating Procedures (SSOP) that make sense. The success of these programs can control pathogens, spoilage organisms, and promote a safe, clean workspace.
Special projects: In the age of FSMA, food producers are never done cultivating food safety. Food safety professionals are committed to continual improvement. A company may choose to leverage food safety consultants to help solidify their commitment to food safety. Special projects may include regulatory compliance with FSMA, allergen management, food defense, recalls and traceability, environmental monitoring, etc.

Whatever your business type, Global Food Safety Consultants is committed to securing product safety, quality, and authenticity. To learn more about us and our services, click here to schedule a free 30-minute consultation.