You know exactly what your business needs are. Right now you need to find a Food Safety Consultant. They have to be experienced, highly effective and hold a successful track record. It’s an important decision, one you can’t afford to get wrong. You need someone who’ll ensure project success. So how do you go about finding the right person for the job?

I’ve worked as a Food Safety Consultant for over 20 years and throughout that time I’ve listened closely to my clients. They’ve taught me a thing or two along the way. Based on those insights I’m sharing my top tips for selecting a Food Safety Consultant. I hope it’ll make the process a little easier for you.

Questions? Email me at I’m happy to share insights and talk shop!

All the best – Elizabeth

1. Never Buy An HACCP Plan Off-The-Shelf
It won’t pass the audit.

2. Don’t Hire A Consultant Who Can’t Integrate With The Team
Remember you’ll run the HACCP system and you’ll need to defend it when asked by senior management, the authorities or your customers long after the Consultant banks your cheque. The process must involve the team.

3. Understand What A Food Safety Consultant Does
Generally, services provided include:

  • Initial needs assessment/gap analysis
  • Project/implementation work plan
  • Program documentation
  • HACCP system implementation
  • HACCP system training
  • A record keeping system
  • Audit preparation
  • System maintenance
  • Post-certification follow-ups
  • Staff knowledge transfer

4. Find And Shortlist Ten HACCP Accredited Providers
If they don’t have HACCP credentials, don’t use them.

  • Go to the industry body websites. They generally keep a directory of approved Consultants
  • Call an accredited business and ask for a recommendation
  • Search
  • Google it. You needn’t go beyond 3 or 4 result pages
  • Select a blend of ten small/med/large consultancies and a few independent Consultants.
  • Don’t assume large consultancies hold the recipe for success. Big firms can be a bit ‘cookie-cutter-ish’ so investigate others to ensure the right culture fit.
  • Staff should hold diploma/degree in Food Science, Microbiology or auditor credentials
  • Work portfolio should cover a broad variety of industry – and yours!

5. Create A Project Outline. Be Precise
The best way to be clear about your needs is to have it straight in your head & that of senior management.

  • Write a project brief:
    • Describe objectives, requirements, deliverables, expected format and scope
    • Define intended audience and the key concepts that must be understood
    • Establish milestones, reviews & deadlines
    • List industry, government standards or accreditations that must be observed
    • Define acceptance criteria
    • List your available resources
    • Define payment terms
  • Obtain key stakeholder input and buy-in. It’s easier to get people on the bus by involving them early then it is once the bus is in motion. A Consultant provides the toolset – it’s the commitment of management that ensures project success over the short and long term.

6. Don’t Waste Valuable Time Doing 10 Face-To-Face Meetings
Call your top ten list, obtain a name/contact email, email the project brief and set up a phone meeting. Use project brief as a discussion starter and make it clear that you want to have an intelligent discussion around their specific capabilities to meet project objectives.

7. Conduct Pre-assessment Over The Phone

  • Do they demonstrate a clear understanding of HACCP principles?
  • Can they identify the specific needs of your company?
  • Can they articulate the methodology they employ to meet requirements (e.g., onsite evaluation, meet with key reps, how do they assess current practices)?
  • Is their methodology flexible?
  • Have they previous work examples? Are they generic or specific to your industry? Look for industry experience specific to yours.
  • What type of follow-up support do they provide (do they conduct post-implementation site visits, what about training)?
  • Do they encourage management participation? And if so, what’s their style and approach?
  • Ask for work history & references. Call the references.

8. Shortlist 2 – 3 Consultants. Request a Tender.
Set up a face-to-face interviews. Ensure someone who understands the HACCP system and its intent attends the discussion. The key determining factors candidates should demonstrate include:

  • Can they develop a system that’s customised to your business needs?
  • Do they have technical knowledge and the ability to help identify hazards in your operation?
  • Do they have a clear understanding of the principles of implementing a HACCP system?
  • How service focused are they? Are they friendly, approachable … do they listen?
  • Are they willing to work onsite?

9. Select Candidate Who Best Meets Needs. Prepare An Agreement.
Key issues to address prior to contract signing are:

  • Development of the plan/activities involved
  • Duration of project
  • Identification of milestones
  • Deliverables
  • Cost
  • Confidentiality agreement

10. Okay. The Consultant Is Onboard, Project Is Underway.
Points to consider moving forward:

  • Understand and evaluate the program by throughly testing procedures & documentation requirements
  • Ensure the programs are feasible, effective and specific to your operation
  • Ensure regulatory requirements are met throughout project lifecycle
  • Ensure proper training of staff is facilitated to ensure implementation success
  • Ensure consultant conducts a transfer of knowledge to key staff to support program maintenance

Whew! Selection is a daunting task. GrowEQ operates with all of the above in mind. We’ve listened to our customers over the years and adapted our approach to suit their needs. We get it. Our 20 years of expertise lends itself to making your task less onerous, worrisome, seamless and successful. Plus we’ve never failed an audit and that’s because we take pride in what we do – and we back it with a guarantee of success. Call GrowEQ now.

Thanks for listening and good luck!