By Del Williams, technical writer
With the threat of contamination from harmful pathogens such as salmonella, listeria, and E coli a continual concern, food processors are seeking to protect not only the public but also their companies’ bottom lines from the massive costs, reputational damage, and greater regulatory scrutiny associated with recalls. The goal is a safe, clean, sanitised working environment.
Given the increasing number of outbreaks and recalls traced to post-processing contamination of foods, it is no surprise that the FSMA Preventive Controls Rule by the US FDA requires manufacturers to implement a food safety plan with the goal of preventing sanitation deficiencies. The rule covers sanitation practices for food-contact surfaces, preventing microbial and chemical cross-contamination, and monitoring potential environmental pathogens for critical equipment like conveyors.
As a result, quality assurance teams are paying more attention to the type and design of conveyance systems used to help meet food safety standards. This includes identifying potential harborage points where debris and pathogens can collect, as well as implementing best practices to save on costs to clean equipment, perform regular testing, and maintain the environment.
“Every day we are asked for recommendations about types and designs of conveyors,” said Justin Kerr, founder of Factor IV Solutions, a food safety consulting firm that has worked with food processors and harvesting operations throughout North America. “With conveyors, ideally there should be minimal harborage points, they should protect products from the environment, and be easy to clean.”
Kerr shared that Factor IV Solutions assists food processors to develop SSOPs (Sanitation Standard Operating Procedures) related to conveyors that include regular verification testing of food contact and non-food contact surfaces. However, given the risks of contamination, the potential for recalls, and the additional costs associated with regular cleaning and testing, it is advisable to select a conveyor that eliminates many of the potential risk factors.
The full article can be found here.