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Shared Expectations

This week I came to realize how easily our objectives can conflict with one another and how easily Food Safety can be compromised, along with other brand reputation.

Every business should work with well-defined objectives that are measurable.

ISO 2200:2018 defines an objective as follows:

Objective – result to be achieved

An objective can be strategic, tactical, or operational.

Objectives can relate to different disciplines (such as financial, health and safety, and environmental goals) and can apply at different levels (such as strategic, organization-wide, project, product and process (3.36)).

An objective can be expressed in other ways, e.g. as an intended outcome, a purpose, an operational criterion, as a FSMS objective, or by the use of other words with similar meaning (e.g. aim, goal, or target).

In the context of FSMS, objectives are set by the organization, consistent with the food safety policy, to achieve specific results.

Section 6.2 then sets out requirements for these objectives

The organization shall establish objectives for the FSMS at relevant functions and levels.
The objectives of the FSMS shall:

a) be consistent with the food safety policy;
b) be measurable (if practicable);
c) take into account applicable food safety requirements, including statutory, regulatory and customer requirements;
d) be monitored and verified;
e) be communicated;
f) be maintained and updated as appropriate.

The organization shall retain documented information on the objectives for the FSMS.
When planning how to achieve its objectives for the FSMS, the organization shall determine:

a) what will be done;
b) what resources will be required;
c) who will be responsible;
d) when it will be completed;
e) how the results will be evaluated

While objectives of their own are great, we need to ensure they are aligned. Reducing the cost of cleaning chemicals can directly impact on ensuring no batches are contaminated with Listeria. If achieving objectives in linked to a monetary incentive, we can land up creating a perverse incentive for food safety. This could result in HTH being used in your plant as a sanitizer. As a team along with top management we need to review and confirm our food safety objectives and business objectives do not conflict. Then we should confirm each objective’s impact on each other. It is important to rather be realistic and win than idealistic and fail. It is inevitable that some objectives may receive more attention, more resources due to the business impact. That’s why there is continuous improvement. Rome wasn’t built in a day so rather plan for incremental improvement than setting a team member up for failure. 

Objectives must also be personalized to create effective engagement in the FSMS and enhance our culture.

While we collectively as a team may have the objective to maintain our FSSC 22000 certification, this “looks” different for each team member. For the production manager it may mean maintain the housekeeping and cleanliness of the plant in addition to ensuring all his/her staff are trained in the procedures for monitoring the CCP. For the warehouse manager it may mean checking the condition of the stock and ensuring we can trace forward. For the receiving department it means ensuring trucks and products are Inspected. For the Food Safety team leader it means working with the food safety team to review and update the FSMS and conducting effective internal audits. Don’t for one minute assume each team member knows their role or can even interpret the requirements of the standard to deduce their role. SPELL IT OUT and Use the KISS principle always. 

I realized again this week that ASSUMING team members think the same as you is bound to result in confusion and contention. And don’t forget the WHY activities are important and how not doing them will impact on the safety of the product. And do this without saying: “The auditor will look at this” ONCE. We do food safety because we value our customers safety NOT to pass audits. Don’t we?