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Top 10 Reasons Why Your Business in Wales Needs A Food Safety Consultant

Food Safety is a Critical Aspect of Any Food Business

Consumers are more aware than ever about the impact of food on their health and well-being.   The importance of maintaining high food safety standards cannot be overstated.  In Wales, the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme is mandatory, which means that food businesses must display their rating in a clear position for customers to see.  The scheme relies on social pressure (customers voting with their feet) and the intrinsic motivation of the owner (feeling emotions such as shame after receiving a low score) to drive up performance (a low rating) without enforcement action.  Of course, this does not work for every business.  Some business owners say they do not care about receiving a low score (and this is a topic for another day). In this article, we outline 10 reasons why the services of a food safety consultant is likely to be sought (especially in Wales) and the benefits it can bring to the business.

 

1. To Undertake A Gap Analysis

Identifying and assessing gaps between current and expected food safety practices is a key reason why a food safety consultant is likely to be sought.  Perhaps you’ve received a visit from the local Health Inspector.  Have you been told that your business will be awarded a low food hygiene rating?  Has this taken you by surprise?  We hear it all the time ”I thought my business was compliant with the law”.  Nevertheless, a low food hygiene rating may have been the driver for you to decide to take action and seek expert support. 

How can a food safety consultant help you in this situation? Read on and I’ll explain. A food safety consultant may want to identify and assess the gaps in practice in your business.  This means looking around your premises to identify areas of the structure that do not meet legal requirements.  It also means an examination of cleanliness.  

In addition, the consultant will want to assess staff practice.  He/she will do this by observing  employees carrying out routine tasks and asking them questions.  After this, the consultant will want to review your food safety documentation, including examination of your HACCP Plan or Safer Food Better Business Pack.  Next will come an examination of your records. 

If your business is to meet current food safety standards, assessing where gaps exist is critical.  Undertaking a gap analysis is the starting point if you want to improve your Food Hygiene Rating or maintain a high score.  The consultant will see things that you cannot see.  

2. To Train & Educate Your Team in Food Safety

A food safety consultant may be sought to design a comprehensive training programme for your staff.  One that includes proper food handling procedures, hygienic practices, allergen management, and cross-contamination prevention.  

Consultants with experience and skills in teaching and learning will know how to make training sessions engaging and how to make knowledge stick.  A good consultant will focus on setting the right conditions, so that food safety rules can be embedded into work routines.  

It is not enough for your staff to have the right knowledge and skills.  If they do not put their training into practice, your business will have wasted valuable resources.  Moreover, if your staff are not implementing new knowledge into practice, this is likely to have a detrimental  effect on your Food Hygiene Rating, and may result in enforcement action being taken.

 

3. To Develop Your HACCP, Policies & Procedures 

A food safety consultant may be sought to develop and support your business to  implement a robust HACCP Plan tailored to your business.  Perhaps you’ve introduced new processes, such as dry ageing or vacuum packing, and these are not covered by your existing food safety documentation?  Or perhaps you’ve introduced a new menu, such as Steak Tartare? In doing so you may have inadvertently introduced new hazards into your business.  The consultant will review this, and prepare documentation to cover the new processes.  You may also need to have new monitoring forms prepared for you.  Or need written policies and procedures to cover those extra processes.

 

A clear and well-documented Food Safety Management System is essential.  Your staff need clear, consistent, easy to follow rules.  These rules need to be relevant to the tasks they are completing.  Because if staff do not feel that rules are relevant to their job, the rules are likely to be worked around, or even worse ignored.

4. To Perform Audits, Inspections & Give You A Birds Eye View

When you are busy working in your business, it is easy to get too close to things.  This means it can be difficult to monitor practice impartially or objectively. With a food safety consultant by your side, you’ll get an aerial view of your business.  

The consultant is likely to see problems that may have been invisible to you.  By performing regular audits and inspections the consultant will be able to identify non-compliance issues and potential risks before these become an issue.  Wouldn’t you prefer a food safety consultant to identify non-conformance issues before the Environmental Health Officer (EHO) does?   Unsure what to expect during an EHO inspection? Find out more here.  

5. To Verify Your HACCP Plan

A food safety consultant plays a crucial role in verifying your HACCP Plan.  This will give you insight into whether your food safety system is being implemented correctly, and to what extent.  

To achieve this, the consultant will want to examine your Food Safety Management System, including critical control points, monitoring procedures, and corrective actions. Not only this, but the consultant will want to examine your food safety records, observe your operations, and talk to staff about food safety practices.  After doing this, the consultant will be able to provide you with an objective assessment of the effectiveness of your existing HACCP system.  Only then can a plan be made to improve things.

 

6. To Keep Your Business Up To Date With Regulatory Compliance

Specialist food safety consultants stay updated with the latest food safety and hygiene regulations and requirements. All food businesses find it hard to navigate through the regulatory landscape.  This is even more important now that the UK has moved out of the EU.  Regulations are rapidly changing.  

Larger companies are more likely to have the resources to employ one or more knowledgeable food safety experts on their team.  Smaller businesses can benefit from hiring a food safety consultant on an ad hoc or retainer basis.  Knowing that the business is staying up to date with legal requirements will allow you to relax (and sleep at night).  You’ll be able to focus on other areas of the business that require your attention.

7. To Improve Your Food Hygiene Rating

A good food safety consultant will work closely with you and your team to develop an improvement plan.  Areas of concern that were identified by the EHO during your last Local Authority inspection can be addressed . This includes practical steps to enhance existing food safety practices and behaviours.  A great consultant will also be able to help you embed new rules, and new habits and make them stick.  This is critical if you want to improve a low Food Hygiene Rating or maintain a high score (one that you feel proud of).

 

8. To Negotiate With The Enforcing Authorities

Sometimes, complaints of food poisoning or foreign objects in food happen.  This is where the expertise of a food safety consultant can really benefit your business. Some food consultants are able to liaise on your behalf with the EHO (Environmental Health Officer).  

good food safety consultant will speak the same language as the Enforcing Authorities.  They will gather relevant evidence, and prepare a comprehensive response in support of any alleged claims. Their experience and familiarity with the regulatory environment can assist in negotiating your position.  It means they may be able to mitigate the impact of any situation to protect your business reputation and your food hygiene rating.

9. To Identify Trends & Business Opportunities

By staying up-to-date with emerging industry trends, consumer preferences, and market demands, a good food consultant can identify new ways for your business to make money.  They will be able to offer suggestions for incorporating popular food trends, such as plant-based options, allergen-free products, or sustainable practices, into your business offerings. This proactive approach will help you as a busy business owner to stay ahead of the competition, attract a broader customer base, and tap into new revenue streams.

10. To Help You Utilise Available Support so that Your Business Can Grow & (if you want) Scale

Some food safety consultants possess additional skills, knowledge and experience, beyond their expertise in food safety compliance. Here are some examples of additional skills a food safety consultant might possess:

 

Business Development and Grant Awareness:  A knowledgable consultant may be well versed in Government grants, funding opportunities and initiatives to support your business. This may include apprenticeship programmes, and other ways to maximise financial assistance for your business. 

Sales and Marketing Acumen: Some food safety consultants may have expertise or experience in sales and marketing.  They may be able to provide valuable guidance on effective marketing strategies, branding and positioning.  Their insights can help you identify unique selling points, target the right audience, and develop impactful marketing campaigns to promote your food products or services.

 Business System Automation and Optimisation:  A consultant with knowledge of business systems and automation can assist in streamlining operational processes. They can suggest tools, technologies, or software solutions to automate tasks, improve efficiency, and enhance overall productivity. This can include digital record-keeping systems, inventory management software, or quality assurance systems.

Digital Skills and Online Presence:  Finding a food safety consultant with digital skills can greatly benefit your food business. It can help you establish a strong online presence. This includes search engine optimisation (SEO) techniques to improve your business visibility in online search results.  In doing so, you’ll attract more customers. 

Content Marketing Strategies:  A food safety consultant with digital skills can support your business by developing a content marketing strategy.  To compete in a noisy world, your business needs to create content to stay top of mind.  By leveraging digital channels, your consultant can help your business reach a wider audience, drive traffic to your website or sales pages, build your email list and ultimately increase customer engagement and conversions.

Meet Infinitas – Unlocking Unique Expertise 

At Infinitas, we go beyond traditional food safety consultancy.  We provide comprehensive services to empower small food businesses to grow and thrive. We are proud to offer insights and access to Welsh Government grants to support your business to employ staff.   We are passionate about developing digital skills (which hopefully will form part of Labour’s new Government policies).  The Welsh Government provides FREE workshops to get you started with digital skills.  You can download your copy here.  You need digital skills to help you market your small business. And to ensure your business survivesl (just think of Covid).  You need digital skills to choose the best cloud based software (systems to support your business), build an email list, and automate your business processes.  Whether you are interested in virtual reality or artificial intelligence technology to give your business an edge, we have the expertise.  

What sets us apart is our commitment to continual learning and staying at the forefront of industry trends.  We understand that compliance is just the beginning.  Our aim is not just to assist you in optimising your operations.  We want to help you enhance the online presence of your small food business, and support you to implement effective digital strategies to help your business scale.  We are not just a food safety consultancy—we are your partners in success, dedicated to helping your business reach new heights.