Between consumer demand for higher product quality and mandatory food safety plans, all processors are becoming more focused on food safety. Limiting exposure to product recalls and protecting brand integrity is crucial in the age of social media, when all it takes is one small problem to seriously tarnish a brand’s reputation.
In this edition of the Service Advisor, we’ll be highlighting common challenges processors face as they execute their plans driven by the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), as well as other initiatives, and exploring possible solutions.
Tips for Implementing FSMA Safety Plans
FSMA safety plans aren’t intended to be one-time, set-it-and-forget-it programs. They’re working documents that are meant to drive processors to continuously enhance safety by monitoring and improving critical control points. Companies must develop a “seek and destroy” mentality as their plans are set into motion. Otherwise, they risk getting dinged by the FDA during inspections and/or triggering a recall.
Here are some common challenges processors are facing as they implement their food safety plans:
1. Convincing senior management to stay proactive
Although FSMA safety plans are legally required, disconnected leadership sometimes struggles to understand the importance of continuously improving food safety in plants, especially when it costs time and money. Start by educating everyone at the top so they understand what’s mandatory by law. Remind them that although being proactive about fixing potential issues can be expensive, it’s less expensive than the cost of a recall.
2. Continuously training workers
Employee turnover is high in food processing plants, especially when the work is seasonal, so training is often a continual focus. Make safety plans clear and short, so they’re easy for workers to understand, and provide mandatory training for new employees so everyone understands the rules. Also, FSMA requires that a “Preventive Controls Qualified Individual” (PCQI) is on staff at all times. This is someone who has completed the required training or who has the industry experience necessary to design and implement a food safety program.
3. Keeping and utilizing adequate data records
Simply collecting data isn’t enough. Be sure to continuously utilize processing data to discover trends that may illustrate potential issues, and hold employees accountable for mistakes that may cause food safety issues. Data can also be used to monitor incoming raw materials and alert processors of potential problems with their suppliers. Archive the data gathered to protect your company during FDA inspections.
How Key Can Help Improve Food Safety
Even outside of mandatory plans driven by FSMA and HACCP, we’re seeing companies taking food safety far beyond the regulatory requirements. At Key, we understand that protecting consumers and brand reputation is ultimately the most important job of all processing equipment, which is why our solutions put a premium on hygiene, ease of cleaning and food safety.
To meet various sanitation requirements and budgets, we offer a range of vibratory conveyors, which are inherently more sanitary than belt conveyors because they have few moving parts and a bed surface that’s easy to clean. For processors with the highest requirements, we design conveyors that feature ground and polished welds within the product contact zone as well as on areas within the “drip, drain and or draw zones,” which minimize the risk the product area could become contaminated with a pathogen.
Our VERYX digital sorters also play a crucial role in food safety for processors worldwide. By removing foreign material (FM) and product defects, VERYX enhances product quality while virtually eliminating false rejects to maximize yield. Its optional ‘Information Analytics’ software allows processors to harness data to identify trends, such as uncovering potential issues with raw material suppliers and much more. Its optional FMAlert software captures and saves digital images of FM and immediately alerts operators during critical detection events to help control FM, speed response to FM events, recognize trends and improve documentation to protect food safety.
We are always here to help! Contact us to learn how Key equipment can improve food safety in your processing facility.