Food processing safety and sanitation requirements are stringent, partly because the stakes are so high. Consumers and staff alike may be in danger due to ineffective safety and sanitary standards. Ensuring constant safety and sanitation is challenging; neglect may lead to liability, recalls, and substantial financial and reputational damage. Consider these frequent dangers to the plantation of processing equipment for food processing facilities and how you may minimize risk in food processing if you’re planning renovations or adjustments to your facility.
How can we reduce the risks in food processing?
Food processing at all levels needs thorough and effective sanitary processes. FSMA outlines sanitation requirements and recommendations for diverse sectors, enhancing food safety across industries. Because they utilize various types of equipment and operate with various foods, different facilities require distinct cleaning and sanitizing techniques. It can be difficult to find the proper method, and some hazards are particularly tough to avoid.
The following are the most prevalent food-processing sanitation hazards to avoid:
- Drains: Pathogens, particularly Listeria, are frequently found in drains. Research indicates that food processing facility drains may contain Listeria in 33 to 47 percent of cases. While cleaning, one should not disregard the tedious but necessary activity of cleaning drains.
- Cleaning debris: “Cleaning” refers to the removal of debris, whereas “sanitizing” means the destruction of pathogens. Sanitizing chemicals must make contact with the equipment surface to work, which necessitates the removal of debris first. Use proper tools like cleaning detergents and brushes to effectively remove dirt and materials in the job.
- Electronics: Electronics can increase the efficiency of food processing equipment, but they are also more difficult to clean. Use electronics that have the appropriate IP certifications or hermetic sealing to withstand high-pressure washing and sanitization.
- Vents: Because vents are difficult to reach, they are frequently neglected. Dust and germ accumulation threatens air and food safety, and may lead to explosions in powder-prone areas.
- Cleaning tools should be color-coded: Even though the tools are the same, cleaning tools used on floors or drains should be kept separate from cleaning tools used on equipment. 21 CFR 117 describes color coding as a useful method for distinguishing tools.
- Good Manufacturing Practices: Good manufacturing practices (GMP) is an important aspect of sanitation and food safety. Using the correct steel grade, eliminating breakable burrs or holes in welded connections, and employing a variety of other techniques can help avoid design defects.
Sanitation is necessary for the food processing industry to reduce risk and protect customers, but worker safety is equally crucial. These two frequently occur together. Inadequate worker safety hampers food safety standards. Adhering to OSHA rules and implementing extra safety measures reduces liability and risk. This list highlights some of the most common hazards faced by food processing employees.
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- Heights: If you have catwalks, and ladders, or your employees operate at heights at any time, adequate rails, traction stickers, and fall safety devices are essential. In 2016, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) amended these guidelines to adequately protect workers from falls.
- Slippery surfaces: In food processing factories, surfaces exposed to water, oil, blood, or other slippery substances can cause falls. To avoid slips, placemats over certain places and make sure they are cleaned correctly during sanitation operations.
- Dust: Dust, which appears to be innocuous, can be hazardous for a variety of reasons. Hence, dust inhalation puts employees’ health in danger, and food leftovers can attract bugs. Dust fires and explosions, on the other hand, are the most hazardous threats. Prevent destruction and harm by clearing vents, emptying bulk bags properly, and informing personnel about dust and powder explosion risks.
- Detachable Safeguards: Safeguards can occasionally interfere with workers’ tasks, therefore it’s tempting to remove them to make the job go quicker or simpler. Worker protections against blades and other moving parts, on the other hand, should not be detachable. Make it clear that safety comes first, and the protections should never be tampered with or deleted. If the work is challenging, assist staff in figuring out how to make it more efficient.
- Electrical Dangers: A certified electrician must exclusively handle modifications, installations, or repairs of electrical components due to the inherent danger in high-powered equipment. Furthermore, it is crucial to maintain the integrity of cables, especially those in contact with liquids, and to ensure that outlets are properly grounded, particularly in sandy soil.
- Harmful Cleaning Chemicals: Sanitizing requires hazardous chemicals; for enclosed spaces, chlorine dioxide gas is occasionally used for disinfection. This substance, on the other hand, is quite dangerous. Workers should know how to handle these substances. How to utilize protective equipment, and what happens if they get too close.
Another key feature of food safety is traceability, which is crucial for reducing risk in the food processing process. FSMA mandates effective traceability procedures, but they also allow food processors to mitigate the effects of contamination if it happens. An efficient traceability system must possess a number of characteristics.
- Accurate Labeling: Accurately labeling reveals the origin, journey, and consumption timeline of ingredients. This information is crucial for detecting and recalling contaminated materials or products, as well as minimizing the repercussions of a recall.
- Automated Systems: Automated systems ais in the exact dispensing of ingredients, not only reducing waste but also guaranteeing that the correct lots are used in the correct products.
- Integrating Software: Integrating software with your automated ingredient system will not only make labeling more accurate and easier but will also enhance your record-keeping in case of an audit.
- Testing: A simulated recall will demonstrate whether your traceability methods are successful. A simulated recall will reveal any flaws in your traceability chain, allowing you to address them. Your employees will be familiar with the processes if you need to conduct a recall.
You can avoid or limit the effect of potentially costly mistakes or difficulties in food processing by minimizing risks. As your company grows or updates equipment, safeguard against liability by implementing proper safety, cleanliness, and traceability processes.
Alaqua offers various processing equipment such as crystallizers, solvent recovery, distillation equipment, spray dryer, heat exchanger, and evaporator system worldwide for food, pharmaceutical, environmental, chemical, and power generation industries along with which we also offer equipment fabrication, troubleshooting, and other processing equipment services. Contact us today for further processing equipment queries and information!