With more than 35 years experience in the food industry in roles such as kitchenhand, caterer, and auditor, Marjorie Harvey is somewhat of a food safety expert. The Auditor speaks to Harvey to learn how she has channeled her passion for the food industry into a successful food safety auditing and consulting career.
Harvey began her career in the food industry peeling potatoes in a local pub and then as a trade cook. She later went on to own a catering business, manage food services in aged care, and teach hospitality.
After witnessing unsanitary food handling practices and seeing reports of food poisoning outbreaks in the media, Harvey was inspired to improve food safety through designing food safety programs. Her interest in auditing soon followed.
“Food sites had no food handling policies, monitoring records, or food safety systems,” Harvey said. “I enrolled in university so I could learn more about the Food Act and food safety standards to become an accredited trainer and auditor.”
Harvey’s university studies included learning about HACCP, ISO standards, food technology, and auditing. Here, she gained the necessary skills to become the first female third-party food safety auditor for the Department of Human Services in Victoria, Australia. Harvey then went on to establish Australian Food Hygiene Services—an accredited company offering consulting, training, and auditing for the hospitality industry.
Working predominantly in the health care sector, Harvey’s role as director involves auditing, training, writing food safety programs, and consulting.
Throughout her career, Harvey has designed and implemented more than 800 food safety programs for hospitals, aged care facilities, child care sites, and Meals on Wheels. She continues to offer her services to restaurants, hotels, cafés, community services, government bodies, and prisons.
Harvey reflects on highlights of her career as including assisting the industry in all aspects of food safety management and compliance.
“It has been a privilege to work in areas that are high risk and to have the opportunity to assist clients with gaining compliance, and offering an opportunity for continual improvement if they request.”
However the job has its challenges—particularly in regards to travel and the demands of report writing. Getting a start in the industry also isn’t easy.
“From the start it was very challenging as no one had experienced an audit,” Harvey said. “But as time goes by it has become less challenging as most understand the requirements expected from an audit.
“It is also challenging to keep up with new equipment, changed food processes, and current trends.”
Harvey believes a lack of mentoring opportunities and incentives for seasoned auditors to assist new auditors are key issues in the profession, and suggests the following solution:
“Attending relevant industry conferences and auditor forums to ensure they keep abreast with the current requirements.”