Food is, understandably, one of the strictest industries in terms of compliance with safety regulations. As a food processor, you are responsible for safeguarding the health of every customer who will eventually consume your products. Food processors are the front line against outbreaks of dangerous pathogens like E. coli and other foodborne organisms that can wreak havoc on human health.
Complying with the food safety standards in the United States can seem daunting, but most of the regulations are straightforward. Having a solid safety protocol in place will keep your food contaminant-free. If you are responsible for a food processing business as an owner or manager, here are some of the best ways to make sure you are meeting safety regulations.
Just like in homes, pests can find sanctuary in a food processing plant. It’s understandable—the building protects against the outdoor elements while your food processing business provides plenty of meals for a rat or other unwanted creatures. Pests cause messes, disrupt production, and carry a host of devastating diseases that could potentially make their way into the food you are processing for eventual sale in the marketplace. If you have a large enough infestation, solving the problem on your own may not be workable. Some pest control companies specialize in rooting out infestations in industrial or business settings. They can help eliminate the problem as well as recommending steps to stop it from coming back.
It goes without saying that foodborne illnesses thrive in dirty environments. You should develop a detailed cleaning policy for your employees, complete with a tracking system to make sure the necessary work is being done. This includes wiping down all stations that contact food regularly, cleaning any utensils used during the process before reusing them, and keeping debris from accumulating anywhere in the store that might serve as food for the pests mentioned previously.
Food processors are required by the FDA to label their products clearly regarding common allergens like soy, wheat, or tree nuts. For facilities dedicated to being free of a particular allergen—for example, a gluten-free facility—keeping your entire operation free of allergens is even more crucial. Allergen testing can help you ensure that there is no cross contamination that could dangerously impact someone’s health.
Separating Chemicals from Foods
Industrial chemicals are everywhere in food processing plants that use heavy machinery, from lubrication for the parts to cleaning products. Ensure that there is no deadly mixing of industrial chemicals with food products by creating a designated storage center for all chemicals that are clearly labeled and physically totally separate from any portion of your equipment that comes into contact with food.
Your products rarely go out right as they are produced. Generally, a lag time exists during which your food products must be stored somewhere in the facility. You should make sure that your food is stored in a sterile, temperature-controlled environment to guarantee both the food’s quality as well as its safety.
When you institute these safety measures, you are doing your part to keep the food that you produce for your customers healthy.
Anita is a freelance writer from Denver, CO. She studied at Colorado State University, and now writes articles about about health, business, family and finance. A mother of two, she enjoys traveling with her family whenever she isn’t writing.