Support: Help is on hand

Chris Barry, managing director of Achor Limited, provides a full consultancy service, developing HACCP plans, supporting systems and documents and training staff.

He said: "We do this on a co-operative basis with the company - they, in the end must have ownership and truly understand it in practice and for this reason we always aim for simplicity and practicality, embedding the system in current working practices where possible.

"We then provide ongoing support, with telephone and e-mail help always on hand and we will support them in the inspection process. Training can be face-to-face, over the internet, or using distance learning and telephone mentoring."

The Meat Managers course was developed with the Meat & Livestock Commission and the Royal Institute of Public Health to provide basic grounding in HACCP and its implementation in the meat industry. Achor developed a 'home study' version of this, enabling shop or company managers to develop their own HACCP using a guided learning process with support from an expert mentor over the telephone. This can be completed in six weeks.

Barry said people were often confused by the variation in demands of inspecting officers and his company has had to work with the officers to get it right, sometimes pointing out that officers have asked for things beyond the regulations and getting them to compromise.

He added another issue was the determination of actual Critical Control Points, he explained: "These should be few, but we have a legacy of poor systems with a legion of CCP's and very poor control of recording data."

Similarly, he said, there was often collection of data on cleaning, 'bacterial' counts etc that was never analysed and therefore an expensive 'white elephant'. He said the company developed simple analyses for people to get relevant information.

Achor also provides a course for managers called 'managing HACCP' in which the HACCP is looked at specifically for their plant.