How can you prevent food safety risks in manufacturing?
Food safety is of paramount importance for food manufacturers. Not only is it a legal requirement for food manufacturers to ensure that their products are safe for consumption, but it is also essential for maintaining consumer trust and loyalty. When it comes to food composition, more than 55% of respondents expressed doubt in the data given by food manufacturers, which isn’t surprising when considering that the number of food recalls are also peaking.
Failure to meet safety standards can result in a range of negative consequences so it is vital for manufacturers to act now and begin to regain consumer confidence, appropriately managing food safety concerns.
In this blog post, we will discuss some of the food safety risks that manufacturers face and, more specifically, what can be done to mitigate them.
Contamination of raw materials
The quality of raw materials is critical to the safety of the final product. Raw materials that are contaminated with harmful bacteria, viruses, or chemicals can cause foodborne illnesses and other health problems.
Food manufacturers should have strict quality control measures in place to ensure that raw materials are safe and meet the required standards. Batch codes of each raw material used should be recorded, ideally in a robust food risk management system, along with time, shift, and date stamps. These detailed records and batch numbers help trace the product back to the start of the production process which can be critical in resolving time-sensitive incidents, like a recall for example.
Cross-contamination during processing
Cross-contamination can occur when bacteria or other contaminants are transferred from one surface or food product to another. This can happen during processing, handling, or packaging.
Food manufacturers should implement procedures to prevent cross-contamination, such as regularly cleaning and sanitising equipment and work surfaces, as well as separating raw and cooked products. Additionally, team members should receive thorough training and wear appropriate PPE to further reduce risks.
Similarly, cross-contamination of just one of the 14 food-allergens can cause severe allergic reactions in certain individuals. This happens when traces of said allergen accidentally find their way into a product. A blasé approach to allergen management, put bluntly, can be fatal.
Manufacturers must ensure that their products are labelled correctly, and potential sources of cross-contact are identified, so that the presence of any allergens can be clearly stated on the packaging. You should also have procedures in place to prevent allergen contamination in the first place, such as using separate production lines and equipment for allergen-containing products. This can be made simpler with the use of a digital risk management system, allowing you to set up automatic allergen alerts, decreasing your odds of having to recall a product by a staggering 25%.
Inadequate temperature control
Temperature control is not only important to retain the taste, texture, and overall quality of certain foods, but it is a critical step to prevent the growth of bacteria in food products and should not be overlooked. If food is not stored or cooked at the correct temperature, it can become a breeding ground for harmful bacteria such as salmonella and E. coli. WHO found that, each year, 420,000 people lose their life because of foodborne disease.
Food manufacturers must ensure that their products are stored, transported, and cooked at the appropriate temperatures, whilst regularly monitoring and auditing processes. When transporting goods, a clean and properly calibrated thermometer must be used, and the carriers must be routinely monitored to make sure the temperature stays constant.
Mislabelling and false claims
Food manufacturers have been under intense scrutiny in recent years for mislabelling and false claims. If a company were to make false claims about the nutritional value or ingredients of their products, not only would they be at risk of legal action, but the trust between consumer and brand would be in peril. What’s even more terrifying? Mislabelling can and likely will lead to severe allergic reactions, endangering lives.
There is no infallible system to prevent mislabelling. However, incorporating data validation to ensure dates are entered accurately and in the right format, and automating the labelling process to reduce the possibility of human error, could be beneficial investments.
How to improve food safety
Find out more about how streamlined supply chain management can ensure the highest level of food safety, with insight from experts.Read now
Best practices to manage food safety concerns
In addition to what has already been mentioned, here are a few other factors to consider to ensure your products are of the highest quality and customer welfare is safeguarded.
- Have strict employee hygiene standards
- Know your water sources
- Monitor your suppliers
- Use correct sanitisation methods
- Use metal detection
- Ensure thermometers are properly calibrated
- Regular pest control and prevention
- Regular inspections confirming your premise is sanitary and in working order
- Appropriate waste management systems
- Ensure staff have a high level of food safety education
Food safety risk management software for manufacturers
It is essential for food manufacturers to understand and mitigate the potential risks that come with producing food products. Ideagen Quality Management unifies all aspects of your food safety objectives into one convenient, user-friendly system, including but not limited to:
- Quality Management
- Risk Assessments
- Supplier Approval
- Supplier Chain Mapping
- Product Development
- Document and Knowledge Management
Harness the Power of Digital Transformation in the Food & Drink Sector
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