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Strengthening Your Food Safety Plan: Tackling Pinch Points

Clean Logix Strengthening your food safety plan: tackling pinch points

Recently, I had the opportunity to dive into Jeff Eisert’s (CEO, Food Safety Engineers) insightful webinar, "Removing the Pinch Points in Your Food Safety Plan," hosted by Quality Assurance. It's crucial that we all actively engage in mitigating risks to both our customers and our businesses. This webinar provided invaluable insights, focusing on three pivotal pinch points that I'll elaborate on below. (For those interested, you can watch the full webinar here (1hr).

  1. Foreign Objects

  2. Recall

  3. Environmental Monitoring Programs

Foreign Objects: Elevating Compliance While Reducing Costs

First, what constitutes a foreign object? These can range from organic matter such as rocks, wood, bones, or other animal parts to industrial items like metal, plastic, glass, and other contaminants.

Traditionally, addressing this risk has involved significant investments in equipment like X-ray machines. Rather than solely relying on costly equipment and your internal processes, establishing robust relationships with suppliers can prove beneficial. Request Certificate of Analysis Letters to ensure hazard control upstream. It may cost a bit more for the product, but then the hazard is controlled at the supplier level.

Make sure to verify compliance from your supplier by lab testing your product annually, at a minimum, to show that the hazard is not passing into your production. This will help ensure you are addressing complaints and issues frequently versus waiting for problems to grow bigger. (Document this into your plan)

Reduce Your Pinch Points Plan Supplier to Lab test to Plan

While certain equipment and processing activities within your facility, such as grinding or deboning, may be inevitable, it's crucial to meticulously outline how you manage and mitigate hazards within your own facility’s operational framework. This entails comprehensive documentation, regular review, and thorough training for your teams.

Furthermore, it's essential not to overlook the impact of packaging on your products. Ensure you inquire about ISO certifications and diligently assess all facets of your processing operations to guarantee comprehensive coverage.

In essence, effective hazard management hinges on clear processes, ongoing evaluation, and a holistic understanding of all factors influencing product safety. By integrating these practices into your plan and documentation, you can effectively manage foreign object risks.

Recall Preparedness: Navigating Complex Supply Chains

Recalls pose significant challenges, exacerbated by fluid supply chains, stringent regulatory standards from FSMA, and the additional requirements of auditors (NSF, SQFI, AIB).

Even with diligent efforts, recalls can occur unexpectedly. Whether it's responding to FDA alerts or customer complaints, a well-structured plan ensures strategic and efficient actions to remove contaminated products from circulation.

As Eisert highlighted in the webinar, understanding your supply chain dynamics, from "1 Up" to "1 Down," is essential. (From your supply chain to your downstream buyer). This entails tracking the lot numbers of products used in production batches.

By tracking these numbers; where, when, and how much went to a vendor (inventory control)  you enable a swift response and put the ball in your vendor’s court to remove the item. You’ve documented your steps and taken care of any liabilities on your end.

HELPFUL HINT: All of this data management is complicated and often an Excel spreadsheet won’t cut it. That’s where software like Safetychain or Flexibake can help streamline entering lot numbers into production logs.

In summary, a comprehensive Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) and continuous staff training are vital pillars in recall management. Stay proactive, stay prepared, and prioritize the safety of your consumers and the integrity of your brand.

Environmental Monitoring Programs (EMPs) pose critical questions: What level of cleanliness satisfies EMP standards? How do you achieve it?

Consider this striking statistic: In a University of Arizona study, 96% of shoes harbored coliform and E. coli bacteria, often from restroom floors or outdoor animal feces. So, what does it mean to be "clean enough"?

To demonstrate freedom from pathogens like Salmonella and Listeria, or gross bacteria harboring biofilms, meticulous cleaning is essential. Certain areas may require more attention and necessary investments in re-doing your epoxy floors, upgrading to concrete floors, drain replacements, or addressing other harborage zones.

Typically, facilities with smooth, grooveless, unsealed concrete can meet EMP requirements without specialized cleaning agents. However, properties with dirt and gravel lots may struggle, emphasizing the importance of controlling external factors to fortify internal cleanliness.

Most facilities achieve compliance through regular cleaning and quality materials. Crucially, a detailed SOP delineating cleaning processes, chemicals, and equipment is indispensable. Do you scrub, clean, and sanitize floors? Is the BLX Boot Scrubber integrated into your staff's routine? Do you have automated cleaning equipment, like SLX Entryway Foamers to disinfect floors at regular intervals?

BLX Boot Scrubbers

In essence, mastering EMPs demands meticulous planning and execution, ensuring your facility consistently meets stringent cleanliness standards.

Take Action to Strengthen Your Food Safety Plan

In all aspects of food safety management, proactive planning, continuous testing, meticulous documentation, and thorough training are paramount. Address feedback promptly and update protocols regularly to prevent issues from escalating.

Ready to Enhance Your Food Safety Measures?

Contact us to explore tailored sanitation solutions for your facility. From chemical dispensers to sanitation equipment and boot scrubbers, we offer comprehensive products and expertise to elevate your food safety standards.

Watch the full webinar here to delve deeper into optimizing your food safety plan.

By taking proactive steps to address pinch points in your food safety plan, you're not just protecting your business – you're prioritizing the well-being of your customers and building trust in your brand.

Please reach out to our dedicated support team at or 616-438-9200.


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