Setting Food Safety Objectives for SQF and beyond

Set SQF Food Safety Objectives

We’ve got lots of questions on how to set food safety objectives for SQF and food safety management systems. This blog shares quick guidance on setting food safety objectives –how to choose, get resources and stay accountable for your food safety objectives. It is important to note that we don’t set objectives because the SQF code says so. You should be setting food safety objectives that work for your organization.

This blog explains how we help our clients to determine their food safety objectives and things to do to keep track of their SQF food safety objectives.

Here are few items that you will need to set your SQF food safety objectives:

  1. Company mission and visions
  2. 2021 Food Safety Objectives
  3. Deviations or CAPA Trends
  4. Root Cause Analysis for your deviation trends
  5. Senior Management direction for 2022 -aims and goals
  6. Food Safety Culture -what have you done and what works for you?

Principles/ Concepts for Setting Objectives/ Goals

Alright, you have all the above. Let’s get started with the basics

  1. Motivation Theory
  2. Setting SMART Goals

Motivation Theory

Motivation theory refers to understanding why people do what they do. Let me ask you, why are you working in the food safety management system? What makes you excited to come to work? What projects interest you? What makes you lose interest?

Then, the next day, your manager told you that you are in charge of the tasks that you hated the most and it is a long-term project? What does that do to your motivation?

Of course, I am not saying that we can get all the best tasks on our plate. However, I wanted to focus on your feeling and motivations and bringing this into the context for you, now being the manager. You just made your employee lose their motivation.

In order to achieve anything, you must be motivated. There are ways to balance motivations and the tasks that we need to do. There are ways to build that common grounds that enable your staff to be motivated while meeting the food safety objectives.

It is very important to gain employee’s buy-in. This is when the motivation theory really comes into place. If you really want it, you will get it. Management commitment must reflect that. Management must be able to build momentum and follow-through, to motivate employees in achieving the common goals

There are also many external motivations such as monetary rewards, recognitions etc, that can be added as part of building and meeting food safety objectives. Considerations can be made to design winning food safety objectives for your team.


Setting SMART Goals

The reason why we bring the SMART goals into the equation is that it is the simplest goal-setting tool and it helps to guide you through your newly set objectives.

The goals must be

S -Specific

M- Measurable

A -Attainable

R -Realistic

T -Timely

It takes skills and time to formulate SMART goals to meet these components. SMART goals are one of the common things that we set with our staff and client, to ensure that we meet common goals and objectives together.

Example of SMART goals in a food safety context

Achieve a score of 90% for initial food safety certification in 6 months

Let’s look at if this goals “SMART” –

Specific -✓

This goal specifically looks at food safety certification. To be more specific, replace with the following that applies to you: SQF audit, BRC audit, HACCP audit or FSSC audit.

Measurable: ✓

90% score.

Attainable: ✓

Yes, it is not the highest score. It is a good aim to start with.

Realistic: ✓

Program development and implementation take time. 6 months provide adequate time to reach the goal.

Timely: ✓

We want to complete this within 6 months.

What other goals do you have?


Tips for Setting SQF Food Safety Objectives

  1. Consider your biggest challenges that impact your food safety + operations.
    1. Jot down all the challenges that you can think of.
    2. What have you done? List all and the reason why it works and didn’t work?
  2. Perform internal review to ensure it is properly closed -utilize your internal audit team and procedures.
    1. Exclude the QA Manager if possible.
  3. Shortlist 3 challenges and determine the $$$ impact on your operations.
    1. You can request your finance team to determine the monetary impact.
  4. Align’s company mission, visions and senior management directions with the above information.
    1. No matter what you do, always prioritize food safety and personnel safety.
    2. Other prioritization considerations may include the following (not in priority order): customer’s request, operations optimization and company vision and management’s direction may vary.
    3. Consider resources that you may need for these objectives
      1. List resources that you need
        1. Do you have an internal team that can run these programs?
          1. How about the capacity?
          2. Are they going to be able to handle the capacity? Or you will stress your team?
        2. Do you need external experts or consultants to help you meet or hold you accountable?
      2. What other resources that you need to make it work without burdening the system?
        1. It might be a good idea to consider hiring specifically for these objectives especially when you forecast a better return and expedited results for your clients, team and organization
  5. Incorporate motivational theory and SMART goals to set the food safety objectives.
  6. Post your food safety objectives on the employee’s notice board. These objectives should be publically known so everyone can help to achieve them.
  7. Remember to have a plan to review and assess the progress of the objectives.

Remember, with any objectives to work and last, you must bet on your personnel.

Example of food safety objectives

Here are a few examples of food safety objectives that you can adapt into your program:

Remember to incorporate your learning from SMART GOALS

  1. Reduce waste by ___% in 2022 through ______________________(indicate how)
  2. Respond to customer complaint within ___ hours (indicate how)
  3. Ensure all new employees working with opened food products are properly trained before the commencement of work (indicate how)
  4. Maintain x% score for our third-party certification audit in 2022
  5. To reduce customer complaints from ___ to ___ in 2022 (indicate how)
    Download this food safety objectives tracking sheet.

Strategy for Food Safety Objectives

Now, how do you really get into the gist of making sure that your objectives will be successful? The keywords are really motivations and leadership. We discuss this concept in detail in our special public Masterclass to help you and your team build your food safety objectives.

For an optimized and private setting, you may contact us and inquire about a team’s objectives setting. You wouldn’t regret your decision in having food safety objectives set in a group setting. In fact, that’s the best way you can share, engage and motivate your team.

Do you know a motivated team is more prone to produce lesser waste and works more efficiently?

Masterclass for Setting Food Safety Objectives

Join us in this two weeks Masterclass series -when you sign up, you get to choose between two sessions, that work for you or your team.

Date and Time Commitment:

Each class is about 1.5 hours.

Nov 2 and Nov 9, 2021 at 8:00 am PT (11:00 am ET, 11:00 pm Singapore/KUL time)

Nov 2 and Nov 9, 2021, at 6:00 pm PT (9:00 pm ET, 9 pm Singapore/KUL time)

Venue: Zoom link

Cost: CAD 100 or by donations (ends by Oct 15, 2021). All donations will be donated to the food bank.

Scholarship available: We understand that you may be recovering from COVID’s impact and if you are serious about attending the Masterclass, we can provide scholarship/ free access.

Capacity: 20

What you will get

  • Setting food safety objectives for 2022
  • Learn how to manage and achieve your food safety objectives
  • Certificate of Attendance
  • Participations and Interactions with other food industry members
  • Mystery gift for attendees that attend both events


*We are charging because we want to make sure that only those who are serious attend this Masterclass.

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