8 Facts About Directors of Food Safety and Quality

Do you have a favourite food brand?

A brand that is so big that it has multiple lines of products and there’s just no way that one facility could manufacture them all. Many food companies fall under this category with facilities across the world.

Brands work hard to be consistent so that every time you eat a product you get the same experience. However, this feat isn’t as easy. On top of staying consistent with quality they also need to stay on top of their food safety. That’s why companies look to one person to lead the charge. One’s with a strong vision and have the technical skills to pull it off.

Food Safety Manager’s work on the ground level leading the charge on facility level. However, the professionals who bring all their efforts together are known as Directors of Food Safety and Quality.

1. A Director of Food Safety and Quality directs the food safety of an organization

A Director of Food Safety and Quality is responsible for:

leading a company’s food safety, quality assurance and sanitation programs. Acting as the the highest level of management for the food safety department these directors help to ensure that all products sold through a company meet food safety, customer, and governmental compliance.

There are many moving to parts to effective food safety plans. However, it all starts with a vision accompanied with objectives. Directors set goals they would like to achieve during a certain period of time such as reducing customer complaints or updating all Standard Operating Procedure (SOPs) documents by the end of year. Once they know what they would like to achieve they shift to supporting food departments by constantly communicating with food safety managers.

Directors meet with all other upper management positions and talk about how things are going. Food Safety works closely with all departments so it’s important that they have birds eye view on company issues as they might affect their quality. Additionally, this includes discussing the needs and budgets of the department.

2. A Director of Food Safety and Quality are always looking to improve the food safety of their company

As more scientific research studies are conducted and new technologies become available there are more possibilities to improve food safety programs. For example, advances in automation could lead to improved sampling techniques that allow for faster testing times.

Directors of Food Safety and Quality are always on the lookout for these new opportunities. They research, identify and evaluate the best practices which they can incorporate into their food safety plans. This information could come in the form of conferences, reading scientific journals or even just conversations with other food safety professionals.

The key is that they are able to take technical knowledge and translate it into actionable steps which improve food safety systems. The goal is to make creating habits for workers that minimize food risks with minimum effort.

3. A Director of Food Safety and Quality has a background in the sciences

Understanding the mechanisms behind preventing food borne illnesses involves understanding the science behind them. That’s why it is common for these professionals to have degrees in biology, microbiology, food science, chemistry or another science related degree is needed. These courses provide foundational knowledge which will help in this role such as laboratory techniques, cell biology and chemical uses. Alternatively, some directors have college degrees in food science where course work is focused on application’s of knowledge to the food industries.

However, no matter what a directors background is they also need to have at least ten years experience in a managerial role at a food processing facility. Additionally, they are required to have relevant food safety certifications as required by their company such as HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points) and SQF (Safe Quality Foods). These certification can be acquired on the job and continually need to be updated as regulations change.

4. A Director of Food Safety and Quality acts as a liaison

Directors act a liaisons with multiple parties throughout their week. Firstly, they act as a liaison in their own company bringing up the concerns of their department to other in upper management and vise versa.

Secondly, they act a liaison with outside company’s and services. Food businesses rely on other businesses for ingredients, chemicals and other types of services. A key factor in determining whether they should work with one another is by their food safety programs. The director will act as the face of company discussing why they should purchase they products and services.

Thirdly, they will work as liaisons with regulatory bodies. When an incident occurs the regulatory body may be come involved. When this occurs the director will provide guidance through education, training, skills and experiences. Even an incident doesn’t occur they with liaison with regulatory bodies to ensure that their company is following all regulations.

5. A Director of Food Safety and Quality perform risk management assessments

Risk management is a structure which is used to identify, analyze and respond to any risks and opportunities. For example, cheese is a higher risk item then potato chips because it has to be refrigerated once produced. Directors are responsible for working with quality assurance departments and identifying safety risks inside of manufacturing plants.

With access to modern technologies directors can use data collected from manufacturing to base their decisions upon. Knowledge is power and it can provide insights for organizations where something wouldn’t be obviously otherwise.

Every risk has a financial amount attached to it. For example, purchasing a more advanced metal detector. Directors will assess what risks would be minimized by purchasing the new metal detector in relation to consumer health, financials and the priority compared to other food safety risks. Using this information they will determine if are able to use mathematics to determine that this this is most useful for their budget.

6. Directors of Food Safety create food safety training programs

Food safety is not common sense! It isn’t always as simple as taking some soap and water and washing a piece of equipment. There is a correct way to handle equipment, wash your hands and report when something is off.

Training is one of the most effective ways to address to and train people to be effective at dealing with food safety. Every manufacturing facility has this own unique “vibe” which. Directors of Food Safety and Quality work closely with managers to find a training style which is well suited to the facility.

Training includes training both quality staff and everyone in production. They work to empower employees to make good decisions when things seem off and help them build their skill set such as developing food safety plans and learning about new quality and food safety skill sets.

Training can include everything from doing Powerpoints, seminars, quizzes and mock-situations.

7. A Director of Food Safety and Quality set the tone of company food safety culture

You might have experienced it first hand. How your manager or teacher or acts will dictate how those they are watching over act. Directors set the tone for a company’s food safety culture.

Though what is food safety culture?

Food safety culture, within a food business, is about the values, attitudes, and beliefs of the people regarding food safety. Companies with good food safety culture are those where everyone puts food safety above all else.

Ingredients of a good food safety culture include:

  • Leadership – Having leaders committed to food safety
  • Communication– Clear expectations of what is expected of everyone
  • Accountability – Everyone is accountable for their actions from top to bottom
  • Planning– Action plans are created to develop and continue the improvement of food safety culture

If a Director fights hard for their choices and shows that they are committed to a good food safety culture then this trickles to those below they lead.

Having an a good food safety culture is arguably one of the most important things a company can have when it comes to food safety.

Another reason why they should develop a good food safety culture? Under the Food Safety Act and Food Safety and Hygiene Regulations in the United Kingdom, directors and senior managers can be fined and jailed for non-compliance with food safety regulations. People’s lives are on the line!

8. A Director of Food Safety and Quality has these set of skills

Being a Director of Food Safety and Quality requires a wide range of skills. However, there are a few which are more essential than others. Important account manager skills include:

  • Being decisive – Directors have the ultimate final say when it comes to the direction of food safety programs and trainings. In tough situations where hundreds of thousands of dollars are on the line directors need to make tough decisions that might not please everyone. They lean on their expertise and knowledge to lead the way.
  • Planning: As leaders directors need to have the ability to translate corporate business goals into will-defined performance plans. Planning isn’t just writing things down on a calendar but instead looking years down the line and figuring out the steps required to get there.
  • Leadership: Every manufacturing facility has their own “vibe” even if they are following the same set of food safety and quality standards. Directors understand how to manage and work with a variety of site cultures and working styles, establishing an environment of high-performance team work based on the requirements of the situation.

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