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. Maintaining high safety and sanitation standards is a continuous and sometimes difficult effort, yet failing to do so may result in liability, recalls, and significant financial and public image losses. 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 Food Processing Risks Be Reduced?
Food processing at all levels needs thorough and effective sanitary processes. The Food Safety and Modernization Act (FSMA), for example, provides forth sanitation requirements and recommendations for a variety of sectors and verticals. 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. According to research, Listeria may be found in 33 to 47 percent of food processing facility drains. Cleaning drains is a tedious but necessary activity that should not be disregarded while cleaning.
- 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. It’s crucial to have the correct instruments for the job, such as cleaning detergents to loosen materials and brushes to scrape or brush dirt away.
- 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. This causes dust and germs to accumulate, posing a threat to both air quality and food safety, as well as the potential of dust explosions in areas where dust and powders are prevalent.
- 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. Color-coding is described in 21 CFR 117 and is useful for keeping tools distinct.
- Good Manufacturing Practices: Good manufacturing practices (GMP) are an important aspect of sanitation and food safety. Design defects can be avoided by using the correct steel grade, eliminating breakable burrs or holes in welded connections, and a variety of other techniques.
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. Food safety standards lag behind when worker safety practices are inadequate. OSHA rules must be followed by food processors for the safety of their employees, and extra safety measures can assist limit liability and risk. Some of the most prevalent hazards for food processing employees are listed here.
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- Heights: If you have catwalks, ladders, or your employees operate at heights at any time, adequate rails, traction stickers, and fall safety devices are essential. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) amended these guidelines in 2016 to ensure that workers are adequately protected from falls.
- Slippery surfaces: In food processing factories, surfaces exposed to water, oil, blood, or other slippery substances can cause falls. To avoid slips, place mats 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. 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. These are capable of destroying large facilities as well as killing personnel. Ensure that vents are clear, bulk bags are correctly emptied, and personnel is well-informed about dust and powder explosions and 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: When dealing with high-powered equipment, electrical wiring may be particularly dangerous. Electrical components should only be altered, installed, or repaired by a certified electrician. It’s also crucial to make sure that cables aren’t damaged, especially those that come into touch with liquids, and that outlets are properly grounded, especially in sandy soil.
- Harmful Cleaning Chemicals: Proper sanitation sometimes necessitates the use of cleaning chemicals that are particularly hazardous to personnel. To disinfect enclosed places, for example, chlorine dioxide gas is sometimes used. 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: Accurate labeling shows where the ingredients originated from, where they went, and when they were consumed. This is crucial for discovering and recalling tainted materials or goods, as well as minimizing the impact 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. Remember to review as your company grows, or you add or replace equipment at your site, You may protect yourself against responsibility and loss by implementing the 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!