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Are You Ready for the New Era of Smarter Food Safety?

By | Blog, News

Watch how our client, Yakima Fruit & Cold Storage, incorporated the CERTUS System to modernize and elevate their environmental monitoring program.


 

Smarter Food Safety

 

On April 30, 2019, Acting FDA Commissioner Dr. Ned Sharpless and Deputy Commissioner for Food Policy and Response Frank Yiannas announced a new approach to food safety, one that recognizes and builds on the progress made in the past but looks towards what processes and tools will be needed for the future.

The agency is currently developing a Strategic Blueprint that will outline how FDA plans to leverage technology, and other tools, to create a more digital, traceable and safer food system. This work will build on the advances that are being made in the FDA’s implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) while advancing the use of technologies that are currently used in society and business sectors all around us.

Priority Areas of Smarter Food Safety

  • Tech-Enabled Traceability and Food borne Outbreak Response: Looking at technologies, data streams, and processes that will greatly reduce the time it takes to track and trace the origin of a contaminated food and respond to public health risks.
  • Smarter Tools and Approaches for Prevention: Enhancing the use of new knowledge from traceback, data streams and tools for rapidly analyzing data.  The ability to use new data analysis tools and predictive analytics will help FDA and stakeholders better identify and mitigate potential food safety risks and advance the preventive controls framework that FSMA established.
  • Adapting to New Business Models and Retail Food Safety Modernization: Advancing the safety of both new business models, such as e-commerce and home delivery of foods, and traditional business models, such as retail food establishments.
  • Food Safety Culture: Promoting and recognizing the role of food safety culture on farms and in facilities. This involves doing more to influence what employees and companies think about food safety and how they demonstrate a commitment to this work. Strengthening food safety cultures also extends to the home and FDA is working to educate consumers on safe food handling practices.

 

Pulled From, “New Era of Smarter Food Safety” – Full Source

 

“Today’s technology-focused world has morphed the way our society operates, creating a highly complex and globally interconnected landscape that is fundamentally changing the way foods move from farm to table. We’ve evolved from a system that sources foods from “around the corner” to “around the world” and are now redefining the “last mile” with the emergence of various direct-to-home food delivery models.”

– Acting Commissioner of Food and Drugs at the FDA, Norman E. “Ned” Sharpless MD & Deputy Commissioner for Food Policy and Response at the FDA, Frank Yiannas

 

How Can Your Company Prepare for the Future?

 

Establish a Vision

  • Step back and get senior management involved
  • Ask Questions:
    • How do you see your organization evolving and growing over the next 5 to 10 years?
    • Are your processes antiquated?
    • What is your customer and consumer looking for?
    • What teams do you have in place now and what teams do you need in place for the future?
    • What regulations adhere to your company?

Create a Blueprint

  • Incorporate your vision into a blueprint for success
  • Draft a blueprint on how systems and regulations will look
  • Include smarter tools for food safety and food safety culture
  • Educate everybody from maintenance to upper management
  • Utilize cross functional and collaborative teams
  • Think outside of the box – you don’t have to fit in the traditional molds for food safety

Take Advantage of New Tools & Technology

  • Harnessing New Tools & Technology can help in a variety of ways. It can,
    • Give confidence and empower employees
    • Eliminate excess paperwork
    • Create more transparency when reporting
    • Drastically speed up old and outdated processes
    • Provide more flexibility to team members
    • Allow more time to be focused on the other important aspects of your business

 

How an Emerging Fruit Producer Took the Power Into Their Own Hands

 

Yakima Fruit & Cold Storage from Wapato, WA recently made the transition to a simple, all-in-one, CERTUS Food Safety System. Yakima Fruit & Cold Storage has implemented the CERTUS System into their Environmental Monitoring Program and says it was one of the greatest decisions they have ever made. The road to a successful EMP must also include the important elements of collaboration, leadership, creativity and culture. We cannot enter into this journey alone, and to be successful, it’s equally important for food and technology companies to join in on this effort.

Watch how Yakima Fruit & Cold Storage adopted the CERTUS System into their Environmental Monitor Program and made the simple, smart, and safe decision.

Watch on YouTube

 

Food Safety Best Practices – Part III (Buildings and Facilities)

By | Best Practices, Blog

The FDA has rigorous guidelines outlining how food manufacturers should manage their businesses. These rules cover everything from weeding the lawn to the kind of grouting and enamel to use on table surfaces. This concludes the short series of posts. CERTUS has taken you through some of the most relevant (and easily overlooked) parts of the “Current good manufacturing practices” (CGMP.)

Maintenance of Buildings and Facilities:

Your place of business dictates many things about how you run your company. Your business volume, product output, and even profitability are largely affected by your buildings and facilities. The FDA also asserts that the state and condition of your production space (and the area around it!) affect your businesses’ food safety.

Grounds:

  • The FDA requires that you properly store your outdoor equipment (lawn mowers, for example.) In addition to this, you are also expected to remove litter and debris in a timely manner, as well as keeping control of your grass and weeds.
  • You must adequately drain low areas, to prevent habitat for pathogens or pests.
  • Having systems in place for waste treatment.

Plant Construction:

 Any plants owned by your company must be large enough to allow for cleaning and sanitizing activities (especially after you have installed your machinery!)

  • Good lighting must be provided in all areas, but especially in places where food is examined, processed, or stored. Be sure to use safety-type light bulbs!
  • Provide quality ventilation, to keep odors and pollutants from contaminating your food.

Sanitary Requirements:

 General sanitary maintenance is expected to a reasonable level.

  • Be sure to check that the chemicals used to clean and sanitize are approved by the FDA. They include:
    • Those required to maintain clean and sanitary conditions;
    • Those necessary for use in laboratory testing procedures;
    • Those necessary for plant and equipment maintenance and operation
    • Those necessary for use in the plant’s operations.
  • It is expected that you are keeping up with current pest control procedures. NO pests are allowed to be in contact with your food at any point.
  • Hand washing facilities must be readily available in many areas of your facility

There are many specific guidelines provided by the FDA. This is not meant to be a comprehensive list, so we recommend you take a look at the full guide on the FDA’s website. Following these guidelines is an excellent first step towards food safety for your product and your business.

Food Safety Best Practices – Part II (Equipment and Utensils)

By | Best Practices, Blog

The FDA has rigorous guidelines outlining how food manufacturers should manage their businesses. These rules cover everything from weeding the lawn, to the kind of grouting and enamel to use on table surfaces. In this short series of posts, CERTUS is going to take you through some of the most relevant (and easily overlooked) parts of the “Current good manufacturing practices” (CGMP.)

Equipment and Utensils:

At the heart of your production plant, is your machinery and equipment. It’s what allows you to maintain your high standards, and it helps you maintain consistency across your product line. But if your equipment slips into disrepair, or if it isn’t properly maintained, your machinery can become a liability. The FDA has produced several guidelines for how to properly clean and manage this vital part of your company.

Initial Standards:

  • All equipment should be designed to be easily cleanable.
  • Each piece of machinery must be designed to avoid contamination from oil, metal fragments, fuel, or any other related bi-product.
  • Food-contact surfaces should be corrosion-resistant, and non-toxic.

Construction and Cleanliness:

 Seams on food-contact surfaces must be made so as to avoid the collection of contaminants. Large welds, for example, cannot be used.

  • Any equipment near the food (even if it is not in contact) must be easily cleanable.

Cold Storage and Measuring Devices:

  •  Any cold storage unit must have a thermometer, and an automatic control.
  • Any equipment which measures PH value (or any related measurement) must be well-maintained, and you must have enough of them to accurately measure those values, regardless of how much products you are creating.

There are many specific guidelines provided by the FDA. This is not meant to be a comprehensive list, so we recommend you take a look at the full guide on the FDA’s website. Following these guidelines is an excellent first step towards food safety for your product, and your business.

Food Safety Best Practices – Part I (Personnel)

By | Best Practices, Blog

The FDA has rigorous guidelines outlining how food manufacturers should manage their businesses. These rules cover everything from weeding the lawn to the kind of grouting and enamel to use on table surfaces. In this short series of posts, CERTUS is going to take you through some of the most relevant (and easily overlooked) parts of the “Current good manufacturing practices” (CGMP.)

Personnel Guidelines:

One of the most important parts of any business is the employee. Whether it’s the floor manager overseeing quality assurance activities, or the associate on the line working directly with your product: the FDA requires strict adherence to several policies and procedures for food safety.

Disease Control and Cleanliness:

  • Any employee with open wounds, lesions, or illness is expected to avoid contact with the food, even if this means being excused from work until the issue is resolved.
  • All workers in contact with your product must maintain good hygienic practices, including the washing of hands after an absence from the area in which food is being prepared or processed.
  • No associate can wear unnecessary jewelry which may come in contact with the product. If the jewelry cannot be reasonably removed, the employee must cover it with appropriate material.
  • Your business must provide your employees appropriate hair netting, caps, or similar hair restraints.
  • Additional protections may be required to prevent contamination from cosmetics, tobacco, or medicines applied to your employees’ skin.

Education, Training, and Supervision:

 Anyone in your employee who regularly oversees sanitation failures or food contamination must have education or experience which qualifies them to accurately examine said components of your food safety.

  • Food handlers must receive training in food handling techniques, including topics such as food-protection principles, and hygienic risks.
  • Any supervision of these instructions (or management) activities must be undertaken by competent personnel.

There are many specific guidelines provided by the FDA. This is not meant to be a comprehensive list, so we recommend you take a look at the full guide on the FDA’s website. Following these guidelines is an excellent first step towards food safety for your product and your business.

UK Laboratory Selects the Solus Pathogen Detection System over Vidas

By | Blog

UK Laboratory Selects the Solus Pathogen Detection System over Vidas

 

ALS Rotherham pathogen laboratory tests over half a million samples each year. Samples include raw and cooked meats and fish, dairy, chocolate and a number of ready-to-eat products. ALS Rotherham performed pathogen testing using six VIDAS units. But as industry demands increased, the laboratory needed to either purchase additional VIDAS units, or find an alternative solution all-together.

Throughput

VIDAS Solus
6 VIDAS units 3 Solus DS2 units
5 runs per day 3 runs per day
30 samples per run, per unit 186 samples per run, per unit
900 samples per day 1674 samples per day

 

Space

VIDAS Solus
Bench space for 6 VIDAS units and heat blocks 32.5 square feet Bench space for 3 Solus DS2 units and heat blocks 12.75 square feet
Refrigeration space for 1 week supply of test kits 22 cubic feet Refrigeration space for 1 week supply of test kits 1.4 cubic feet

 

Personnel

VIDAS Solus
Hand-pipetting 900 samples per day Automated pipetting
Training – N/A 1-2 days training with Solus representative on-site
Constant hands-on technician time Up to 90 minutes between runs for a technician to perform other tasks

 

ALS Rotherham made the move to Solus and is now processing nearly twice as many samples per day with lower associated costs. Fewer kit deliveries are required and refrigeration space has been reallocated to other stock. Technicians now have time to carry out other tasks during the work day and are less likely to suffer repetitive stress injuries.

Full Whitepaper

Safe Ingredients Check – Vetting Raw Materials

By | Blog

Focus your control efforts

The FDA recommends focusing your control efforts on the raw materials and ingredients that are most likely to contain pathogens like Listeria. In fact, they say that you should treat any raw (or vulnerable) materials as if they are carrying those pathogens.

Identify suspect materials

Factors that impact the potential for an ingredient to be a source of contamination include:

  • The nature of an ingredient, including intrinsic factors such as pH and water activity;
  • The manufacturing process for the ingredient;
  • Supplier approval programs, programs that follow the practices described in this guidance for control of L. monocytogenes, and verification programs.

In addition to these, any ingredients not properly treated for L. monocytogenes also poses a significant risk in your supply chain. Listed below are some of the most common treatment methods. If your raw materials have not undergone any of these steps, consider a change in your food safety strategy.

  • Aseptically processed and packaged;
  • Retorted (e.g., canned);
  • Ethylene oxide treated or irradiated in the package;
  • Pasteurized (or equivalent treatment) in the package;
  • Other approved lethal technologies (in the package)

Again, in the absence of adequate information about the risk presented by a particular ingredient, we recommend that you assume that the ingredient could be contaminated with L. monocytogenes.

Containing the risk

One of the best ways to prevent contamination is to identify all of the raw materials which could potentially be a host for L. Monocytogenes and treat them with a listericidal control measure. The best time to apply such treatments is while the ingredient is raw, or at the in-process stage during mixture.

The FDA also recommends establishing treatment protocols with your suppliers; this can serve as another step to prevent outbreaks and contamination. While spot checks are a great part of everyday quality assurance, they (on their own) do not serve as an adequate replacement for a hands-on approach. Onsight audits, periodic inspections, and developing procedures for vetting and selecting suppliers are a better (and safer) way to ensure food safety.

In fact, according to new FDA standards, as of September 2017, most large food manufacturers are expected to develop these kinds of supply-chain measures. For more information, consult the FDA’s PCHF guidelines.

Crafting a Recall Plan

By | Blog

When Prevention isn’t Enough, a Carefully Crafted Recall Plan Goes into Effect

Your food safety plan should include a recall plan for each food with a hazard requiring a preventive control. According to the FDA, you must establish a written recall plan which must include procedures that describe the steps to be taken, and assign responsibility for taking those steps.

Notify the Buyer

Notify the direct consignees of the food being recalled, including how to return or dispose of the affected food.

Go Public

Notify the public about any hazard presented by the food when appropriate to protect public health.

Verify

Conduct effectiveness checks to verify that the recall is carried out.

Dispose

Appropriately dispose of recalled food. Possible disposal methods include:

Reprocessing

Reworking

Diverting to a use that does not present a safety concern

Destroying the food

For more information about recall plans, read the Federal Code of Regulations.

Taking a Look at Preventive Controls

By | Blog

Preventive Controls are a Necessary Component of Your Food Safety Plan

When developing your food safety plan, you must specify controls to ensure that identified hazards will be minimized or prevented. Preventive controls may include controls for processes, food allergens, and sanitation, as well as supply-chain safety, and a recall plan. The types of preventive controls you use will depend on the facility and the food:

Process Controls

Process controls are the procedures, practices, and processes to ensure the control of operations such as heat processing, acidifying, irradiating, and refrigerating foods.

Food Allergen Controls

Food allergen controls are the procedures for ensuring protection of food from allergen cross-contact (preventing the unintentional incorporation of an allergen in a food) — including during storage, handling, and use — and correctly labeling the finished food if it contains any of the eight major food allergens:

Milk

Eggs

Fish

Crustacean shellfish

Tree nuts

Peanuts

Wheat

Soybeans

Sanitation Controls

Sanitation controls are the procedures to ensure the facility’s sanitation practices are adequate to significantly minimize or prevent hazards such as environmental pathogens, biological hazards due to employee handling, and food allergen hazards. Sanitation controls must address:

Cleanliness of food-contact surfaces, including food-contact surfaces of utensils and equipment

Prevention of allergen cross-contact

Cross-contamination from insanitary objects

Cross-contamination from personnel to food, food packaging material, and other food-contact surfaces;

Cross-contamination from raw product to processed product

Note that sanitation controls do not include all sanitation procedures used in the facility, only those that are used to control hazards.

Supply Chain Controls

Supply-chain controls are activities taken to verify that suppliers that are controlling hazards are doing so effectively.

Recall Plan

A recall plan is necessary for any food with a hazard requiring a preventive control. It must be written and must include steps to take (and who is responsible for taking them) to

Notify your direct customers

Notify the public, if necessary

Check the effectiveness of the recall

Dispose of the food appropriately.

For more information on Preventive Controls, read the FDA Regulation: Current Good Manufacturing Practice, Hazard Analysis, and Risk-Based Preventive Controls for Human Food

Prevent Contamination in your Food Processing Plant

By | Blog

Supervisors and Personnel Share Responsibility for Keeping Plant Free from Contamination

To limit the potential for contamination, plant management should take all reasonable measures and precautions to ensure that personnel who are involved in food processing are healthy and conduct adequate hygiene and cleanliness.

Disease Control

If a supervisor observes any person appearing to have an illness, open lesion, boils, sores, infected wounds, or any other abnormal source of microbial contamination and there is a reasonable possibility of contaminating food, food-contact surfaces, or food-packaging materials, the supervisor shall exclude this person from any operations which may be expected to result in such contamination until the condition is corrected. Additionally, personnel should be instructed to report such health conditions to their supervisors.

Cleanliness

All persons working in direct contact with food, food-contact surfaces, and food-packaging materials shall conform to hygienic practices while on duty to the extent necessary to protect against contamination of food. The methods for maintaining cleanliness include, but are not limited to:

Clothing

Wear outer garments suitable to the operation in a manner that protects against the contamination of food, food-contact surfaces, or food-packaging materials.

Hygiene

Maintain adequate personal cleanliness.

Hand Washing

Wash hands thoroughly (and sanitize if necessary) in an adequate hand-washing facility:

Before starting work

After each absence from the work-station

At any other time when the hands may have become soiled or contaminated

Accessories

Remove all unsecured jewelry and other objects that might fall into food, equipment, or containers, and remove hand jewelry that cannot be adequately sanitized during periods in which food is manipulated by hand. If such hand jewelry cannot be removed, it may be covered by material which can be maintained in an intact, clean, and sanitary condition and which effectively protects against the contamination by these objects of the food, food-contact surfaces, or food-packaging materials.

Gloves

Maintain gloves, if they are used in food handling, in an intact, clean, and sanitary condition. The gloves should be of an impermeable material.

Hair

Wear, where appropriate, in an effective manner, hair nets, headbands, caps, beard covers, or other effective hair restraints.

Personal Belongings

Store clothing or other personal belongings in areas other than where food is exposed or where equipment or utensils are washed.

Behaviors

Confine the following to areas other than where food may be exposed or where equipment or utensils are washed:

Eating food

Chewing gum

Drinking beverages

Using tobacco.

Additional Precautions

Taking any other necessary precautions to protect against contamination of food, food-contact surfaces, or food-packaging materials with microorganisms or foreign substances including, but not limited to:

Perspiration

Hair

Cosmetics

Tobacco

Chemicals

Medicines applied to the skin

 

For more information view the Current Good Manufacturing Practice in Manufacturing, Packing or Holding Human Food. 

 

The FDA Offers a Step-by-Step Guide to Build Your Food Safety Plan

By | Blog

Consolidated Resources and Step-by-Step Guidance to Develop a Personalized Food Safety Plan

Building your food safety plan can be a daunting task. The FDA provides a plan builder and other resources to help owners and operators of food facilities develop a personalized food defense plans for their facilities.

The Food Defense Plan Builder is a user-friendly software program that harnesses existing FDA tools, guidance, and resources for food defense into one single application.

The Food Defense Plan Builder guides the user through the following sections:

  • Company Information
  • Broad Mitigation Strategies
  • Vulnerability Assessment
  • Focused Mitigation Strategies
  • Emergency Contacts
  • Action Plan
  • Supporting Documents

Ready to get started?

Food Defense Plan Builder

Learn More | Download Now | View System Requirements

Training Videos

Watch Now

Workshops

Check out what’s available

Need more? Visit the FDA website for more information and resources.