Food Safety Management For Processors

10 Core Programs Lie At the Foundation of Your Food Safety Management System

One of the worst nightmares of any food processor is a food recall. The only thing worse is a human illness or death due to their product. Regardless if a company is under federal regulations or not, there are 10 programs a company can use to control food hazards. These Prerequisite Programs (PRPs), coupled with Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) and Sanitation Standard Operating Procedures (SSOP), lie as a foundation for a company’s Food Safety Management System (FSMS) according to the National Sanitation Foundation International (NSF).

The 10 areas that companies should develop standard operating procedures for:

  1. Employee Health and Hygiene Program: Personal hygiene is one of the top-five food safety risk factors by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Hand washing, hair nets, employee break areas, rules related to illness, visitor guidelines and more are part of this program.
  2. Employee Training Program: Annual training should begin with the nature and composition of the food and run through processing, packaging, warehousing, delivery and transportation, facilities and equipment, employee expectations, employees’ culture, and more.
  3. Facilities Design and Equipment Maintenance Program:  Buildings and environments where food is handled and processed must be designed, constructed, and regularly evaluated in their ability to keep with sanitary principles and protect the food from contamination.
  4. Sanitation Program: Sanitation involves the processing environment and employee practices such as proper cleaning and sanitizing of the equipment.
  5. Chemical Usage and Safety Program: Training in use, correct labeling and storing, and emergency procedures can help control chemical contamination, damage and injury.
  6. Pest Control Program: Pest control in the processing and storage areas is important to control the introduction of pathogenic microorganisms, parasites, food contamination, and food borne illnesses.
  7. Receiving, Storage & Transport Program:  Developing standard practices for these areas are important to minimize the possibility of contamination, damage or other types of compromise to raw materials, packaging and finished products.
  8. Equipment Calibration: To ensure all equipment is accurate, a program should include identifying and documenting all equipment requiring calibration, documentation of calibration method and schedule, calibration standards, record identification and frequency, etc.
  9. Supplier Approval System: Choosing reliable raw material and packaging vendors that have safe food practices is crucial to the safety and quality of the finished product. Developing supplier approval protocols, evaluations, and testing are critical components of this system.
  10. Product Traceability and Recall: Every good processor should be able to trace back all raw materials, including food packaging, follow their products distribution, and have a proven way of getting their product back if necessary.

The 10 programs are explained in more detail in the NSF Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) Manager Training manual, version 4.0. For more information on this training, see a preview of their manual at http://www.nsf.org/training/educational_tools/preview_haccp.pdf.  In addition, you can visit the Federal Drug and Administration website for more information on Good Manufacturing Practices and Sanitation Standard Operating Procedures at http://www.fda.gov/Food/default.htm.

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