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Quality, Food Safety and Health

Food Safety

Production processes with a guarantee

Our producer distinguishes three different levels in order to guarantee quality. First of all, 15 basic conditions are assessed at each site. These are the ideal basic conditions for food production companies to manufacture products in a safe and reliable manner. They vary from cleaning and disinfecting, to staff and product information management. If the basic conditions are up to standard, this will create a sound foundation for quality. Our snack producers are continually working on this at all their locations. In addition, each product has been incorporated into a HACCP plan (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points). Before introducing a new product or when making changes in existing ones, we collaborate with the HACCP team to carry out a hazard analysis for each stage of the process. At each stage of the process, we establish various risks (for example the chance of allergen contamination) and agree on control measures if necessary. Quality is guaranteed by daily inspections of production lines and testing raw materials, semi-finished products and end products. In addition to this, we have a quality management system to manage this approach to basic conditions and HACCP and to improve it wherever possible. More about HACCP at the end of this article.

Harmonisation

To ensure uniformity in the entire quality guarantee at all our locations, our producer is analyzing the best approach for each site in order to ultimately arrive at a coordinating quality structure that must be adhered to at all sites. Although there will of course continue to be a local system at each site, the producer still endeavoring to harmonize as many quality processes as possible and to incorporate them into one user guide. They are focusing more and more on enlarging knowledge of their own processes and products because this will enable them to respond even more adequately to risks. For example, they are increasingly confronted with external risks. That is why requirements relating to Food Defense and Food Fraud have been included in the IFS standard.

The IFS Food Standard is a GFSI (Global Food Safety Initiative) recognized standard for auditing food manufacturers. The focus is on food safety and the quality of processes and products. It concerns food processing companies and companies that pack loose food products.

The purpose of these requirements is to prevent deliberate contamination of products and to monitor the risks of ‘dirty tricks’ with products. Consider for instance a slaughterhouse that sold horse meat as beef. This enabled the slaughterhouse to command a much higher price, but it misled the customers. Or the origin of herbs and spices, for example ‘Spanish peppers’ that actually come from Mexico. Our snack producer carefully analyses the risks, closes off the site, controls access, identifies and registers third parties such as visitors and suppliers. Food Fraud is also monitored with random DNA tests, for example.

Inspecting suppliers

Inspections carried out on suppliers have been stepped up since last year to enable our snack producer to analyze risks relating to these suppliers at an earlier stage. All risks relating to suppliers will be analyzed by means of independent audits. In addition, the quality parameters for each type of raw material and packaging material supplied by third parties have been established in specifications in mutual agreement between the producer and her suppliers. They exclusively accept raw materials and packaging materials that have been approved and use these in the production process. In addition, all producer’s suppliers are assessed on quality, logistics and prices every year via a vendor rating system. The results of the audits carried out on our suppliers are used to raise the quality guarantee to an even higher level wherever possible and necessary, in collaboration with producer’s suppliers.

Born, bred and slaughtered

In addition to risk analysis, our snack producer intends to obtain greater clarity in the logistical raw materials supply chain. To this end, producer uses the ‘G001 form’ (this stands for ‘born, bred and slaughtered’) to examine the origin of each raw material. This enables us to trace the origin of incidents more quickly. Furthermore, an IFS (International Food Standard) quality audit is carried out at each location every year. This standard is predicated on ‘continuous improvement’ being a condition on which the quality system used is built. We are proud to say that each production site has been certified at ‘higher level’.

Complaint handling

If consumers still have any problems relating to food safety after all this intensive care, our producer’s customer service department is always available to receive and handle their complaints. A complaints analysis is carried out every month and used for optimization and guidance purposes. ‘Continuous improvement’ is also the basic principle for this.

What is HACCP?

Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP) is an internationally recognized method of identifying and managing food safety related risk and, when central to an active food safety program, can provide your customers, the public, and regulatory agencies assurance that a food safety program is well managed.

HACCP is a management system in which food safety is addressed through the analysis and control of biological, chemical, and physical hazards from raw material production, procurement and handling, to manufacturing, distribution and consumption of the finished product.

Today, many of the world’s best manufacturers and vendors use the system as a basis for their food safety management programs and for compliance with GFSI audit schemes.

Through analysis of hazards and where they can occur, Safe Food Alliance of California helps implement systems and procedures to minimize risk. Safe Food Alliance provides a truly hands-on food safety management system at each and every operation in assisting in the management of critical control points.

A food safety program, however, does not just stop with HACCP. To be effective, prerequisite programs such as pest control, traceability & recall, hygiene and sanitation need to be developed and implemented. Additionally, the issue of ensuring that suppliers and distributors also have a food safety program needs to be addressed through development of ingredient specifications and a vendor assurance system.

Why is a HACCP program important?

Proper implementation of a HACCP program helps reduce the likelihood of customer complaints or a recall by identifying and controlling potential hazards which may come from raw materials, facility processes, and human error. The greater employee awareness that results from a HACCP program helps to drive continual improvement of a company’s products and processes.

Additionally, the HACCP principles are in alignment with the requirements of the FDA’s Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) rule for food processors — Hazard Analysis and Risk-based Preventive Controls (“HARPC” or “Preventive Controls”). Although a HACCP plan does not meet all of the requirements, it meets the majority of the requirements and is the best platform from which to build a FSMA-compliant management system.

The Five Preliminary Steps for Developing a HACCP Plan

  1. Assemble a HACCP team
  2. Describe your product
  3. Identify the intended use of your product
  4. Construct a flow diagram
  5. Conduct onsite confirmation of the flow diagram

The Seven Principles of a HACCP Plan

  1. Conduct hazard analysis
  2. Identify critical control points (CCPs)
  3. Establish critical limits for each critical control point
  4. Establish critical control point monitoring requirements
  5. Establish corrective actions
  6. Establish record keeping procedures
  7. Keep records for verification