Senior management commitment and involvement is a fundamental requirement for the successful development, implementation, and ongoing maintenance of the HACCP system. They have the authority and influence to make food safety a priority or not within the organisation. Senior management have a responsibility to know what is required to protect consumers and meet legal compliance. Many certification standards have a mandatory requirement for senior management to demonstrate commitment to food safety, including provision of sufficient resources, effective communication, reviewing performance, and driving continual improvements.
Expectations for food safety and performance starts at the top. Senior management can communicate these standards and demonstrate commitment through a clear written statement of support for the HACCP system. This can be a food safety policy statement signed at the highest level within the food safety management system or a declaration within the HACCP plan.
Senior management must demonstrate a willingness to allocate necessary resources required to develop, implement and maintain the HACCP system, including sufficient time, skilled people and money.
The development and maintenance of the HACCP system is a time-consuming process. Senior management must not impose unrealistic time constraints in expediting its completion. Unreasonably pressure place upon the HACCP team will invariably lead to mistakes. There may also be occasions where senior management must authorise adjustments in production schedules to permit shutdowns for essential cleaning and disinfection and maintenance.
The HACCP team will require competent members who understand the practical application of the HACCP system. Senior management will recruit a team leader to oversee the HACCP team and authorise required members to participate in the development and maintenance of the system. There may be insufficient expertise within the organisation to address certain aspects of the HACCP study. Senior management may need to authorise the appointment of appropriate external consultants.
Maintaining high standards of food safety can be expensive and incur unforeseen costs. Senior management have the authority and responsibility to ensure sufficient budgets are in place to support the HACCP system, especially prerequisite programmes. Their decisions can make a positive or negative impact on the effectiveness of the HACCP system.
Senior management can create accountability and drive continuous improvement by reviewing the HACCP system and acting accordingly. The frequency of the review may be driven by internal standards or external certification schemes. These meetings might evaluate resource requirements, audit reports, food safety incidents and other key performance indicators. Decisions by senior management must be timely to facilitate the development, implementation and/or maintenance of the HACCP system.