As a food manufacturer or processor, you understand the importance of avoiding food contamination. Not only are there regulations in place promoting food safety and consumer protection, but there are also penalties, costly recalls, and your company’s overall reputation and business to consider.
However, there are ways to prevent food contamination, but if you are going about it correctly, it shouldn’t mean upending your operations or putting policies in place that drastically alter your processes. Simply put, there are ways to implement food safety plans that not only establish ways to prevent food contamination, but also do so in a way that works (and even streamlines) the way your business operates.
Here are some ways that you can develop a food safety plan and avoid food contamination.
Don’t Shy Away from What’s “Optional”
Many of the aspects of a solid food safety plan will be mandatory, but there are optional steps you can take to see where you stand, and to help you prepare. For instance, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Food Safety Plan Builder (FSPB) can help you establish exactly what food safety requirements are specific to your facility. This planning tool is worth not overlooking.
It is important to note that since this tool is optional, it does not suffice as a proper food safety plan. However, it does provide a helpful breakdown of what will be required. For instance, here are some examples of what the tool focuses on:
- Facility Information
- Preliminary Steps
- Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) & Prerequisite Programs
- Hazard Analysis & Preventive Controls Determination
- Process Preventive Controls
- Food Allergen Preventive Controls
- Sanitation Preventive Controls
- Supply-Chain Preventive Controls
- Recall Plan
- Reanalysis of Food Safety Plan
- Food Safety Plan Report
The Food Safety Plan Builder will help you build a food safety plan that is unique to you and your operation, and lay the groundwork for what is ahead.
Understand the Basics
Developing a food safety plan essentially means identifying potential hazards that could arise in your operations. From there, you will establish how those hazards can be mitigated, and implement safeguards against them. Some of these hazards are common to all aspects of food production businesses, but some might be unique to your operations.
Overall, these standards are good because they let you know exactly what you need to be considering, and what the penalties are for not complying. Additionally, these policies and procedures go beyond such safety protocols established by OSHA, for example, since food contamination has wider reaching concerns that impact the general public in addition to those working on site or involved in the process.
Such considerations mean that the food manufacturer as well as the contractor and construction company implementing the work need to be aware of (and adhere to) Current Good Manufacturing Practice, Hazard Analysis and Risk-Based Preventive Controls for Human Food. It is crucial to familiarize yourself with these standards, even though you might not have the technical experience or internal knowledge to execute these mandatory responsibilities.
There are additional guidelines that are to be followed and implemented as well, such as FDA inspections, and also self-policing practices that ensure you are constantly staying compliant and up to date, such as conducting self audits of your processes and procedures. Another common practice that a construction management company can help you with is ongoing risk assessments. These types of insights can not only ensure your practices are compliant with current safety regulations, but they also offer you peace of mind, enabling you to focus on the other aspects of the job.
Communication and Training
Creating a food safety plan based on the insights, knowledge, inspections and foresight of your team is not a one-step process. But it also is not the only aspect of the process. Avoiding food contamination is an ongoing effort that requires constant monitoring, adjustments, and as importantly, communication and awareness.
After all, what good is a food safety plan if your employees or partners aren’t aware of it? There are all sorts of ways to keep your workers in the know about food safety procedures, whether they are simply ongoing standards, or if there are updates or new considerations to the workflow to consider. Once again, when it comes to this type of ongoing effort, it is best to bring in the professionals.
The National Environmental Health Association (NEHA) is a national environmental health credentialing body dedicated to the promotion of environmental health protection initiatives. By signing up with this organization, you can provide your team members access to online courses, including classes for preparing for the prestigious Certified Professional – Food Safety (CP-FS) credential.
Additionally, there are government organizations (you have certainly heard of OSHA, for instance) that also provide awareness and training for employees when it comes to food safety and best practices to avoid food contamination.
And as mentioned before, these efforts put toward communicating and keeping your workers in the know are not a one time task. Similar to implementing ongoing risk assessments or processing audits, these training programs and information sharing programs should remain ongoing. For instance, consider what has occurred recently with the global pandemic. This situation disrupted every industry across the globe, and yet food manufacturers still had to find safe new methods for production and distribution. These types of unified efforts and safety protocols would not be possible without ongoing and open communication and training procedures.
Be Ready for Improvement
Know the basics, implement the food safety plan that makes sense for your processes, communicate effectively with your workers, and then constantly monitor your efforts to stay up to date and compliant. While that sums up a solid approach to avoiding food contamination, it is not where the efforts end. After all, you want to be able to improve these processes as time goes on.
By having an effective food safety plan in place, you will also have set yourself up to constantly improve. There are constant updates to regulations being implemented, but there are also technologies or softwares that are enabling improvements in food manufacturing all the time. Remain in the mindset that improvement is always on the horizon, and this will also keep you in the mindset that with each new technology or software or process comes additional safety considerations.
Work with the Professionals
Your business is unique, and you want your processing plant to operate in a way that makes sense to you. By calling in hygienic construction management professionals, you can focus on the job at hand, maintaining control of your operations and feeling confident about the safety procedures and mechanics that are in place.
Contact EAD today to get started on developing a food safety plan to avoid food contamination that makes sense for your business style, supports your operational goals, and keeps your facility and your workforce up to date, compliant, and successful.