By Isaac Fletcher, contributing writer, Food Online
With FSMA’s final deadlines looming on the horizon, there is no better time than right now for food and beverage manufacturers to enhance plant safety and protect against high costs incurred by food safety issues.
The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) has encouraged many food and beverage manufacturers to take a close look at processing practices to ensure that all parts of their operation will live up to new, stringent regulations. Additionally, with recall after recall making the news, food companies are working from the ground up to ensure that losses from recalls are minimized and consumer safety is a top priority.
Recalls mean not only potential danger to consumers, but a negative impact on the company’s reputation, wasted product, and a deterioration of earnings and stock prices. Cleaning up the mess left behind from a recall is costly, and with shaken trust, many consumers may migrate to a competitor’s product, resulting in more long-term revenue loss. Accordingly, food and beverage manufacturers need to know what can be done to mitigate against food-safety related losses. A large part of that comes down to sanitary design best practices, which will ensure products are safe for consumers and recalls can be avoided.
The following briefly outlines sanitary design best practices for food and beverage manufacturers:
Separate Zones For Raw And Cooked Products
A critical aspect of sanitary design is the separation of raw products from those that are cooked and ready-to-eat. Separate zones help to protect against cross-contamination and eliminate a variety of related safety risks. To fully ensure raw and cooked separation, manufacturers should also establish separate zones — locker rooms, cafeterias, support areas, etc… — to segregate employees who handle raw products from those handling cooked foods.
Related: Podcast — Food Contamination Risk Factors To Consider
Control Of Processing Environment
Processing plants should be designed with well-defined purposes for each room in mind. This needs to be done so rooms can be engineered to provide appropriate temperatures for their designated processing tasks. Additionally, processing plants need to be equipped with methods to automatically regulate moisture and humidity to curb the growth of bacteria and lower the risk of food spoilage.
Cleaning And Maintenance
When choosing materials for constructing a food or beverage plant, manufacturers should consider not only durability, but cleanability as well. A facility that is built to be durable, but cannot be easily and adequately cleaned will result in unnecessary costs in the long run. An important cleanability factor to take into account is the ability to withstand high-temperature cleaning and hold up against harsh chemicals. Design should also allow for ample space around equipment to ensure that all areas can be easily accessed for easy cleaning and maintenance.