Top Pest Concerns for Food Processing
A look at the core pest challenges facing food processors
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Food business operators have the prime responsibility for food safety in law by ensuring materials and products supplied to them are safe and their processes and products are safe for the consumer. Food processors don’t just have to produce safe products, they have to be able to prove to the relevant authorities that their procedures, processes and facilities can ensure food safety and comply with legislation, through effective management, monitoring, action and documentation.
This has to start with commitment from top management, as required in ISO 22000, with a ‘fundamental statement of intent’:
Relevant measures must be put in place to ensure safety is maintained at all points in the production process. This involves achieving a series of ‘prerequisites’ that the company should establish, following established Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) and standard operating procedures (SOPs).
The US FDA has put more emphasis on prerequisite programs because these have been the source of most food safety hazards and product recalls in the US. Rentokil’s own research shows that the main reason for non-compliance with food safety standards is lack of attention to basic hygiene in the operating environment, including:
For each prerequisite there are eight steps in the process for ensuring hygiene and safety are maintained and any lessons learned are fed back into carrying out improvements.
Responsibility: assign a qualified person to be responsible for implementing the steps required;
Develop: develop the procedures for carrying out a programme, monitoring it, and taking corrective action;
Document: produce the documentation that describes the procedures, the tasks required to carry them out in detail, and forms used for monitoring;
Train: staff should be trained to carry out the procedures and tasks described in the documentation, including monitoring and documenting activities;
Implement: actual practices should follow the documented procedures;
Monitor and record: accurate monitoring and recording provides evidence that procedures are being followed;
Verification and audit: verification checks that when the system is running it is working as designed, documentation is being carried out properly and competencies are up to date. This is done through procedures such as validation of critical control points, calibration of equipment used for monitoring, sampling and testing. This should be done by trained personnel, whether they are internal staff or from an outside agency.
Review and update: top-level management should review each program at regular intervals to assess how well it is performing, develop protocols to improve processes, allocate sufficient resources to implement any changes and document the process.
The prerequisites below are based on the Codex Alimentarius and GFSI recommendations, which are followed by regulating and standards bodies worldwide.
The first requirement for food processing facilities is the location, design and construction of the facility. This gives a basic foundation for controlling external risks to food safety and improves the ability to maintain hygiene, store materials safely, and remove waste effectively.
The facility should be located to reduce the risk from:
The business should establish effective procedures and methods to prevent contamination of food through systems for cleaning of food production areas and equipment, pest control and waste management.
Many species of pest are attracted to the food and shelter present in food production facilities and can enter the food supply and production facilities at many points, contaminating surfaces, materials, equipment and food products. Pest control is maintained by:
Waste management is essential to prevent contamination, infection, harbourage of pests, and pollution. Provision for the safe handling of waste includes:
The food business shall ensure that all staff and visitors follow appropriate hygiene practices that ensure safety of food processing, including:
Transportation affects food products before and after the manufacturing process. Therefore measures should be implemented to ensure raw materials, ingredients, packaging, semi-processed and finished products are transported in conditions that protect them from contamination, damage and spoilage. These include:
Codex Alimentarius. General principles of food hygiene.
GFSI Global Markets Manufacturing Checklist.
FAO. Codex Alimentarius Food Hygiene Basic Texts. Fourth Edition. FAO, WHO, Rome 2009.
Stier RF. Prerequisite Programs Help Ensure Safety and Meet Auditor Scrutiny. Food Safety Magazine. December 2011/January 2012.
Yotty AM, et al. How Food Companies Can Modify Their Existing HACCP Plans into an All-Encompassing Food Safety Plan. Food Safety Magazine, December 2015/ January 2016.