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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.

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.