As I’m sure you are all aware, food safety is an important feature for any business operating within the food industry. Adhering to the necessary food safety standards and regulations can help prevent outbreaks of food-borne illnesses such as salmonella and mad cow disease.
There are a lot of factors which food processing businesses need to consider when ensuring food safety is adhered to. However, there are 10 ways in which you can ensure that food safety is applied to your business.
1. Pest Control
Pest control plays an important part in food safety. Troublesome insects such as cockroaches and flies can help spread diseases which can lead to the development of food-borne illnesses. Rodents also spread diseases as well as causing damage to building fixtures and machinery.
2. Waste Management
Providing the appropriate procedures for the removal and storage of waste helps to ensure proper food safety practices are followed.
The BRC Global Standard for Food Safety states and advises how waste management should be dealt with to meet the correct food safety regulations. They explain that:
“Waste disposal shall be managed in accordance with legal requirements and to prevent accumulation, risk of contamination and the attraction of pests.”
You can view the BRC Global Standard for Food Safety issue 7 here.
Establishing proper cleaning and disinfection programmes can ensure food safety is compiled. Ensuring the correct hygiene standards are met will help reduce the risk of a foodborne illness outbreak.
Properly disinfecting food preparation areas as well as cleaning machinery and utensils used within the food processing cycle will eliminate the microorganisms that cause food poisoning, ensuring the food products created aren’t contaminated.
Establishing proactive maintenance measures for food processing machinery ensures they run smoothly and properly, and contributes to the production of safe foods.
An article from the Food Safety Magazine states that a number of food-borne illness outbreaks can be linked to the failure of ensuring equipment is properly maintained under the correct sanitary conditions. They provide an example of a botulism outbreak in the early 1980’s which was caused by improperly performing can reformer machines.
Pests such as rats and mice can often affect the way in which machines perform, gnawing at the power cables and contaminating the components that have direct contact with the products.
5. Personal hygiene
Installing the correct facilities for staff to ensure proper personal hygiene is met contributes towards meeting food safety requirements.
Bacteria can easily be spread through biological and physical contamination. This can put foods at high risk of carrying food-borne diseases.
The Food Safety Authority of Ireland state that the 3 things need to be considered when ensuring proper hygiene practices are met:
- Hand Washing – Ensure effective hand washing techniques are followed.
- Hand Contact – Try to minimise direct hand contact with raw food.
- Disposable Gloves – Ensure gloves can be used safely and disposed of properly.
Learn more about personal hygiene and food safety in the FSAI’s Food Hygiene.
6. Environmental hygiene
Food processing facilities rely on the use of potentially dangerous chemicals for sanitation and pest control. Because of this attention has to be applied to reduce the risk of accidental environmental contamination during the food processing cycle.
Food safety practices need to be applied to ensure the chemicals used during the food production cycle do not contaminate the food products created.
7. Correct handling, storage & transport
On top of food production and preparation, food safety also has to be applied during handling, storage and transportation. A range of factors needs to be considered during these stages to ensure food products do not become contaminated. Temperature, hygiene, and cyber security are all factors which need to considering during these stages of the food supply chain.
The FSAI provide a guidance on the Sanitary Transportation of Food for all sectors of the food industry. It broadly discusses applicable recommendations for controls to prevent food safety problems during transportation.
8. Facilities location & Design
The design and location of a food processing facility need to be taken into account when ensuring food safety is met to the correct standards. Areas which are known to be pest “hot spots” as well as prone to pollution need to be avoided to reduce the risk of contamination.
The BRC Global Standard for Food Safety states:
“The production site shall be suitable size, location and construction, and be maintained to reduce the risk of contamination and facilitate the production of safe and legal finished products”
9. Machinery & production line design
The design of machinery used within food processing has to be taken into account to comply with food safety regulations. There is specific legislation in place to ensure certain criteria are met in regards to the design of machinery used in food processing to ensure all food handling is performed to a high standard of hygiene.
The 10 principles are:
- Cleanable to a microbiological level.
- Made of compatible materials.
- Accessible for inspection, maintenance, cleaning and sanitation.
- No product or liquid collection.
- Hollow areas hermetically sealed.
- No niches.
- Sanitary operational performance.
- Hygienic design of maintenance enclosures.
- Hygienic compatibility with other plant systems.
- Validate cleaning and sanitizing protocols.
Learn more about the 10 principles here.
10. Staff training
Educating staff on how to ensure the proper food safety requirements are followed will help reduce the risk of contamination.
Areas which staff should be trained about:
- Hand hygiene
- Food storage
- Food preparation
- Pest Control
The Food Safety Authority of Ireland provides guidance on training staff on food safety. This can be viewed here.