Developing an Effective Management Review Process for SQF Compliance

In my experience within the industry, a notable challenge is the development and implementation of an effective Management Review Program, a mandatory element of the SQF Standard. A common obstacle is the vague and misaligned objectives relative to the broader ...

Management Review Process for SQF Compliance

In my experience within the industry, a notable challenge is the development and implementation of an effective Management Review Program, a mandatory element of the SQF Standard.

A common obstacle is the vague and misaligned objectives relative to the broader goals of the Management System. I find that many organizations grapple with identifying which objectives are relevant to their SQF Food Safety Management System, leading to a Management Review process that lacks clear focus and direction.

Additionally, a common shortfall that I have identified during my review of SQF Management Systems is the inadequate documentation of the Management Reviews. Proper documentation is not only essential for tracking progress and pinpointing improvement areas but also crucial for ensuring accountability and maintaining a historical record of decisions and actions.

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Another critical aspect often overlooked is the follow-up on action items from previous Management Review Meetings. This oversight can significantly impact the continuity and effectiveness of the Management System.

Moreover, the inconsistency in reviewing objectives is another prevalent issue. Regular and consistent evaluation of objectives is vital to ascertain their ongoing relevance and effectiveness. This inconsistency can impede continuous improvement and compromise the integrity and effectiveness of the Management System.

Addressing these challenges is vital for the successful development and implementation of a robust and efficient Management Review process.

This article will guide you through establishing a robust management review process that not only meets but exceeds the requirements of the SQF Ed.9 requirements.

As required by the SQF Standard, it is mandatory that “Senior Site Management conducts an annual review of the SQF Management System” (2.1.2.1) and that “the SQF Practitioner provides monthly updates to Senior Management on factors affecting the implementation and maintenance of the SQF System” (2.1.2.2)

In my experience the effectiveness of the Management Review process is reflected in the performance of the SQF Management System when aligning the Management Review frequency with the monthly updates required. Essentially, this means carrying out monthly Management Reviews that cover updates to the Management System, evaluation of the Food Safety Culture Plan, evaluation of food safety objectives, analysis of both internal and external audit findings, monitoring of Consumer Complaints (including indices and trends), performance of the Corrective and Preventive Action process, review of the Hazard Risk and management System (HACCP Plan), verification and validation activities, and follow up on actions from prior Management Review meetings.

This approach streamlines the process and ensures a proactive management style, addressing key elements of the SQF Management System monthly, rather than a yearly reactive response.

Creating organizational objectives, particularly in the realm of Food Safety, can be a challenging task. Many individuals, especially those new to their careers, often encounter difficulties in setting these objectives. In my Food Safety and Quality training classes, I emphasize the S.M.A.R.T objective technique, which guides companies in formulating objectives that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound.

A couple of examples of Food Safety Objectives could be:

Example 1: Increase completion of the Internal Audit Schedule by 25% by the end of the fiscal year.

This objective covers all areas of the S.M.A.R.T technique:

  1. Specific: Increase completion of the Internal Audit Schedule
  2. Measurable: Achieve a 25% increase in completion
  3. Attainable: The amount of time provided is sufficient to attain the goal
  4. Relevant: Internal Audits is part of the verification process used in the SQF Food Safety Management System (FSMS) to ensure effectiveness in controlling potential food safety incidents.
  5. Time-Bound: The goal must be reached by the end of the fiscal year. 

Example 2: Increase employee compliance with handwashing protocols to 100% as observed in random shift checks within the next 90 days.

This objective covers all areas of the S.M.A.R.T technique:

  1. Specific: Increase employee compliance with handwashing protocols
  2. Measurable: Achieve 100% compliance
  3. Attainable: The amount of time provided is sufficient to attain the goal
  4. Relevant: Proper hand hygiene is crucial to prevent food contamination 

Time-Bound: The goal must be reached within 90 days.

By applying the S.M.A.R.T framework, organizations can set clear, achievable, and impactful goals in food safety, fostering a culture of continuous improvement and compliance. 

Maintaining records of activities is an essential aspect of all programs under the SQF Food Safety Management System. Documenting Management Reviews is a straightforward process. It simply requires a controlled document that captures the key details of the meeting, including the date and time of the meeting, names of attendees, an agenda outlining the topics discussed, and the meeting minutes. 

Additionally, tracking the follow up actions can be effectively handling using the existing Corrective Action Preventive Action (CAPA) Program, with the progress of closure and verification being reviewed and discussed in subsequent Management Review meetings. 

In conclusion, the key to a successful Management Review process addresses common industry challenges by aligning food safety objectives with broader management goals, ensuring consistent and frequent reviews, maintaining proper documentation and diligently following up on action items. This holistic approach not only meets but exceeds the requirements of the SQF Standard, setting a high bar for food safety and quality in the industry.

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