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Risk Management Tips for Food Industry Professionals

All industries have risk, but food industry professionals must manage it with particular vigilance for the health and safety of their customers. When managing your risk, acknowledge that you’ll never completely eradicate it. But if you can minimize problems, you’ll make your products safer for consumers and lower your possible liability. With safer products and a safer workplace, both your employees and customers will invest their trust in you.

1. Keep Employee Training Updated

Train all employees on safe food handling procedures. But don’t let the intake training be the last your employees undergo. Hold regular training sessions to remind veteran employees about the food safety rules that can easily be forgotten with time. Training employees and keeping them updated on food safety not only makes their work safer but also more efficient.

Also maintain worker safety training. This is critical if workers change positions regularly. Ideally, all workers will know the safety procedures for every position. This lets you move them around the facility as needed without having to train them first. As with food safety, conduct regular workshops to keep safety training updated for all workers.

2. Check Ingredients and Labeling

Food allergies are serious for your business. If you don’t disclose allergens in your products, you could be liable for legal backlash. Even though 2014 saw the passage of the U.S. Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act, or FALCPA, many food industry companies still have not complied.

If you do not have all your allergens labeled, change the labels on your products. And always check your ingredient labels for your products whenever you change the recipes, too. This improves the accuracy of your labels.

3. Create a Plan in Case of Supply Disruption

The food industry is based on the fluctuating nature of supplies and transport. Droughts, road closures or trucker strikes could severely curtail your supply. In a survey of U.K. food industry professionals, 73 percent used fixed-price contracts to get over the trouble caused by supply disruption while 71 percent established close relationships with their suppliers. Create a backup plan in case your supply is reduced or absent due to unforeseen circumstances.

4. Protect Against Cyberattacks

With increasingly connected devices in smart factories, cyberattacks become even more pressing an issue. Only 10 percent of companies carry coverage for cyber-liability even though 60 percent have experienced at least one data breach over a two-year span. Invest in industry-grade security software. Also, ask your IT personnel to keep your system up-to-date. Carrying liability insurance in case of a cyberattack will also protect you financially.

5. Check Equipment

Keep your equipment maintained to avoid breakdowns. This is especially important with your storage equipment. If a refrigeration or freezer unit fails, you could lose thousands of dollars or more of product. Consider installing backup generators to keep your chillers running if your facility experiences a power outage.

Food-borne contaminants are also a real threat in food processing facilities, but in some cases chemical or probiotic additives can help prevent pathogen-friendly conditions. To double your protection, consider insurance to cover events that cause product loss or spoilage.

6. Increase Safety in Your Facility

Facility safety protects you from paying workers’ compensation because your employees will be safer on the job. Don’t just adhere to OSHA standards, either — you should surpass them. This will protect your workers from slips and falls that can result in costly injuries for them and for you. They lose work time and you lose money in compensation.

In terms of your work environment, keep hazardous areas clearly marked to prohibit non-trained personnel from entering. Always maintain dry, clean floors to prevent slips and consider increasing your training intervals so workers know the safety procedures to follow.

7. Communicate Your Plan

Don’t just create a plan to protect your business from risk. Communicate your plan to your insurer, to your employees and to your suppliers. With good communication, you’ll be able to implement your plan faster and your facility will operate more efficiently with everyone on the same page. Protecting your business from risk starts with telling those whose jobs are affected by your plan what their roles are.

Keys to Risk Management

Pay close attention to seemingly trivial things to decrease your chances of problems arising. Lower risk means higher trust in your product and eventually better profits. It’s always in your interests to focus on lowering risk in your food industry facility. You’ll reap the benefits of increased profits and better efficiency with a safer plant that offers better products that your customers can trust.


Megan Ray Nichols 
STEM Writer & Blogger


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