Assembling and training the HACCP team is the first step in developing the HACCP plan. This approach creates a working environment where ideas are challenged from different viewpoints, and justified decisions are guided by those with the best knowledge and experience. Working in a team also creates access to expertise, develops synergy between different departments and fosters wider ownership of the HACCP plan.
The first task of the HACCP team is to define the scope and terms of reference of the HACCP plan and decide which processes, products and hazards will be included. This is followed by the development and implementation of the HACCP plan. The HACCP team will also be responsible for its continual maintenance, such as verification and review.
The team should be kept at a manageable size appropriate to the nature and complexity of the operation, typically 3-6 persons. This group of individuals must collectively have enough technical and operational knowledge to address different stages of the HACCP plan and its continual maintenance.
Core members of the team will be drawn from relevant departments within the business, including technical, quality assurance, engineering, production, hygiene etc. Specialists may be occasionally required to provide the HACCP team with additional expertise on specific aspects, such as microbiology, packaging and GFSI certification standards. The combined expertise of the HACCP team must include the following:
- competency in identifying the nature and manifestation of hazards relevant to onsite raw materials, operational processes and finished product, and effective control measures;
- understand the extrinsic and intrinsic characteristics of the finished product, and potential for consumer abuse and unintended use;
- technical knowledge of how equipment functions, its capabilities to achieve process parameters and critical limits, and known or possible faults;
- practical experience of the process flow for raw materials, packaging and finished product from receipt of goods to dispatch or distribution;
- expertise in how legal compliance, customer requirements and certification standards affect the HACCP plan and its supporting prerequisite programmes;
understand the technical and practical aspects of implementing and maintaining the HACCP system, especially validation and verification activities.
There is also an administrative element to the HACCP system to ensure the process is implemented in a logical manner, appropriately maintained and the HACCP study/plan and team discussions are adequately documented and recorded. Those responsible for administrative tasks will need to demonstrate effective verbal and written communication skills, project management techniques, logical evaluation of data, solve problems through root cause analysis, decision making skills and competency in using different computer programmes (e.g. excel and word).
The HACCP Team Leader
Senior management will normally appoint the HACCP team leader. This person is usually the technical manager, who will have expertise in the practical application of the HACCP system.
The HACCP team leader has a key role in supporting the HACCP plan and developing an effective HACCP team. This person is ultimately responsible for the successful implementation, on-going maintenance and continuous improvement of the HACCP and the Food Safety Management systems. The HACCP team leader inspires and directs the team to achieve its function. This role requires effective leadership and management skills to establish, select, motivate, engage and coordinate the HACCP team.
Educating and Training the HACCP Team
Education and training are important factors in creating and maintaining an effective HACCP team. The HACCP team leader will usually conduct a skills gap analysis to the determine level of training required for individuals and different roles within the team. They are likely to require initial training, especially for those new to the HACCP system, and ongoing training to maintain competency. The minimum requirement for initial training is a practical understanding of HACCP commensurate with the HACCP team role. Core members of the team would be expected to hold a level 3 qualification in HACCP and the HACCP Team Leader a level 4 qualification. Additional training may be necessary to develop new skills to support administrative and maintenance functions such as project management, auditing, conflict resolution, etc. Audit standards may also require refresher training for members of the team whose certificates have expired.
Get qualified now!
Percipio Training offer a wide range of accredited HACCP courses at levels 2-4. We can deliver any of these courses onsite at your premises. Alternatively, enrol onto one our open courses in Central Milton Keynes or London.