The Ultimate Food Safety Guide For Manufacturers

Food safety is an integral part of public health that guarantees people consume hazard and risk-free food. Food safety includes a variety of measures that help achieve cleanliness, freshness, and food safety in the supply chain. Understanding and implementing food ...

Food Safety Guide

Food safety is an integral part of public health that guarantees people consume hazard and risk-free food. Food safety includes a variety of measures that help achieve cleanliness, freshness, and food safety in the supply chain.

Understanding and implementing food safety practices is crucial for businesses in the food and beverage industry as it significantly mitigates the risks of foodborne illnesses and helps produce safe, nutritious, and delicious food.

In this article, you’ll read a comprehensive overview of food safety, its importance, food hazards, HACCP, and many other related things.

What Food Safety Certifications and Training to Get?

A food safety certification confirms that the products of food and beverage businesses are safe for consumption. If your company has any food safety certifications, the food you sell complies with stringent regulations. Even though certifications are optional in most cases, it’s way better to have one.

Here are the examples of the most widespread and reputable food safety certifications:

HACCP

HACCP certification is a standard that confirms the company has successfully created and implemented a HACCP plan. Food safety can be ensured through HACCP as it means that the company controls biological, chemical, and physical hazards in food.

GFSI

GFSI (Global Food Safety Initiative) certification is not a certification itself. However, you can get a GFSI-recognized certificate like SQF, BRC, FSSC 22000, GlobalG.A.P. Standard, etc.

Being GFSI-certified will make your product shelf-ready, ensure food safety, and prove your brand integrity.

ISO 22000

The International Organization for Standardization developed the ISO 22000 food safety management system. ISO 22000 contributes to improving food safety in food and beverage companies.


GMP

GMP stands for Good Manufacturing Practices. It is a set of requirements established by the FDA to ensure that the company runs according to Current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMP). GMP certification paves the way for retailers to many reputable supermarkets and stores.

Top food safety certifications

Employee training also puts your company one step closer to getting a certification and ensuring a high degree of food safety. The certifications and training also help enhance credibility and marketability, ensuring consumer trust and better profitability.

Personal Hygiene for Food Handlers – A Key to Safe Food Production

The personal hygiene of people who work with food significantly influences foodborne disease prevention. Food handlers should follow the FDA’s 21 CFR 117.10 Cleanliness Guidelines to ensure food safety. Let’s delve into the core personal hygiene rules:

There should be a high level of personal hygiene.

Clothing must be exclusively for food handling purposes and neat and clean. Any personal clothes and items used outside the facility should be kept from the workplace. Food handlers aren’t allowed to wear jewelry when working.

Fingernails must be cut and easy to clean without nail polish. Don’t forget to tie your hair and keep it under a hat or hairnet.

Never chew gum, smoke, sneeze, or cough near the food. Sometimes, even talking can cause saliva to get into the food.

Food workers must wash their hands regularly and dry them with clean towels or air driers.

Handwashing Hygiene For Food Handlers

Washing hands is one of the most significant rules when dealing with food. Handwashing prevents food contamination from workers. 

Food handlers must wash their hands regularly in established intervals, they also must wash their hands after every break, trip to the restroom, anytime they touch raw food or their body parts, after smoking, and after eating, etc. 

What If The Food Handler Doesn’t Feel Well? 

Food workers must monitor their health and inform the supervisor in case of an illness. This measure will help prevent any bacteria hazards from getting into food and causing contamination. Any vomiting, diarrhea, rash, fever, or other symptoms are a reason to inform a manager and stay away from processes.

What Are The Basic Food Safety Principles?

Every food handler and business owner must know the significant food safety principles. They guarantee a basic understanding of how to keep food safe and prevent contamination and foodborne illnesses. Here are the principles you should follow:

  1. Prevent Contamination

There are three types of contamination: physical contamination, chemical contamination, allergens, and biological contamination. So, preventing food contamination by physical, chemical, allergens, and biological hazards is essential.

It’s also vital to minimize cross-contamination risks between raw and cooked foods and eliminate contaminants from the environment, personnel, or equipment.

  1. Cleaning and Hygiene

Germs from dirty environments, staff, or equipment can cause cross-contamination. That’s why it’s essential to keep everything clean from utensils to hands. Wash your hands thoroughly with soapy water and clean the kitchen, ensuring no chemicals have been left on a working surface, tools, or hands.

  1. Time and Temperature Control

Pathogens can quickly grow and be killed in certain temperatures. Cooking, cooling, freezing, and reheating can help prevent pathogens from contaminating the food. It’s even more crucial when dealing with TCS foods that require strict temperature controls. Keep the food out of the temperature “danger zone.”

  1. Proper Food Storage, Packaging, and Labeling

Food must be stored and packed according to food safety standards. Proper storage means keeping raw food away from the prepared, the correct temperature maintained for perishable foods, and covering foods. The storage place has to be well-located: pay attention to what shelf you put an item on and if it’s protected from the sunlight.

Packaging has to comply with regulations, be safe for food products, and protect them from potentially unsafe conditions like temperature, oxygen, sunlight, etc.

Correct storage and packaging will protect the food from cross-contamination and spoilage and prolong its shelf life.

Food labels must declare all allergens as well as allergens that are processed at the same facility which can introduce allergens to the product. 

  1. Only Safe Water and Raw Materials

The water used for food preparation must be safe, and raw materials must come from verified suppliers who respect and follow food safety rules. The raw materials must be inspected before usage and washed properly to remove potential contaminants.

  1. Incorporate a Food Safety Management System

A reputable food and beverage company must create and implement a HACCP-based food safety management system. Based on the 7 HACCP principles, it will help monitor, identify, tackle, and prevent food safety hazards in production. 

  1. Personnel Training

Pay a lot of attention to the food safety awareness of your staff. They work with food directly. That’s why they must understand and follow the risk mitigation strategies when dealing with food. Ongoing personnel training will improve food safety in the workplace, ensuring safe food production.

  1. Conduct Regular Food Safety Audits

Regular internal and third-party audits will help improve and maintain food safety practices in a facility. Audits and inspections will help you find gaps and areas for improvement, organize documentation, and mitigate potential risks. Popular retailers and supermarket chains such as Whole Foods require food safety audits before a food item will be stocked on their shelves.

What Are The Main Cleaning & Sanitization Principles?

Cleaning and sanitization are integral parts of food safety in the food and beverage industry, and there are fundamental benefits from these procedures:

  1. Preventing foodborne illnesses and cross-contamination. 
  2. Food safety compliance
  3. Extending the shelf-life of food
  4. Maintaining product quality, company’s reputation, and client trust.

Main Steps of Cleaning and Sanitization

There are several established actions for proper cleaning and sanitization:

Pre-cleaning Remove food particles or dirt from surfaces or equipment.
Cleaning Remove fats, proteins, and carbohydrates by dissolving them with detergents or cleaning agents, applying mechanic action like scrubbing.
Rinsing Remove any detergent residues from the surface.
Sanitizing Apply a sanitizing agent to kill pathogens and lower their level to the norm.
Drying Surfaces must be dry before contact with food as some pathogens can grow in moist environments.
Verification Make sure the surface is clean by visual inspection or doing swabs if necessary.
Documenting Always record cleaning and sanitization activities in your food safety documentation.

ticles or dirt from surfaces or equipment.

  1. Cleaning – remove fats, proteins, and carbohydrates by dissolving them with detergents or cleaning agents, applying mechanic action like scrubbing.
  2. Rinsing – remove any detergent residues from the surface.
  3. Sanitizing – apply a sanitizing agent to kill pathogens and lower their level to the norm.
  4. Drying – surfaces must be dry before contact with food as some pathogens can grow in moist environments.
  5. Verification – make sure the surface is clean by visual inspection or doing swabs if necessary.
  6. Documenting – always record cleaning and sanitization activities in your food safety documentation. 

What Should You Know About Sanitation Standard Operating Procedures (SSOPs)?

Cleaning and sanitization steps must be included in SSOPs – a document that specifies how to 

achieve adequate sanitation and cleanliness of a facility.

Usually, SSOPs describe responsible personnel, measures to protect the staff and consumers, how to handle chemicals and equipment, significant checkpoints, cleaning and sanitation schedule, verification procedures, how to deconstruct the equipment before cleaning, cleaning methods, etc.

SSOPs are part of a HACCP plan and must be well-described and followed.

What Are The Key Food Safety Regulations and Standards?

The standards for food safety indicate how food must be produced, processed, distributed, stored, etc. Food safety regulations and standards cover all the processes and procedures like sanitation and cleaning, hygiene, temperature monitoring, allergen management, traceability, etc.

Here are the most known food safety standards:

FSMA (Food Safety Modernization Act)

FDA enacted the FSMA Act to mandate preventive controls and regulate food traceability, sanitation, etc. This document shifted the approach from reacting to contamination to its prevention. It promotes a risk-based approach to control the national supply chain.

World Health Organization SSA

WHO developed its Standards and Scientific Advice on Food and Nutrition – a set of guidelines for food organizations to follow to minimize food safety risks for consumers.

Together with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), they created Codex Alimentarius.

Codex Alimentarius

Codex Alimentarius, or “food code,” is a set of food standards to safeguard consumer health. In many cases, Codex Alimentarius serves as a basis for national legislation, even though following its rules is voluntary.

Food safety standards and regulations are different around the world. There are also European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) Regulations, Australian Food Safety Standards, Food Standards Agency in the UK and many others. You can also encounter BRC standards, GMPs, and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).

How To Handle Food Safety in Specific Settings?

Food safety considerations can depend on specific settings and conditions. For instance, the produce companies should prioritize refrigeration. Companies handling dry goods will pay more attention to pest control and storage.

Let’s look at how food safety rules and requirements can vary in different sectors of the food and beverage industry.

Food Manufacturing and Processing

Food safety rules for food manufacturing are comprehensive and stringent. They can include a HACCP plan, hygiene and sanitation, document management, quality control, etc. Manufacturers must pay particular attention to GMPs and other food safety standards, traceability, hazard monitoring, etc.

Food Service and Restaurants

In food service and restaurants, there are stringent hygiene practices, like handwashing and sanitation. There should be proper temperature control to prevent bacterial growth. These rules minimize the risks for customers of a cloud kitchen or restaurant. 

Retail

Food labeling is vital for retail companies: allergen information, expiry dates, and nutritional value must be available. Food must be stored properly to maintain the shelf life and prevent contamination.

Transportation and Distribution

To transport and distribute food products safely, you should implement strict temperature control and create proper conditions, for instance, refrigeration for perishable foods. Companies must implement a comprehensive traceability system to avoid contamination and quickly respond to recalls.

Indeed, there are universal food safety standards for all food and beverage businesses. However, the specific requirements can differ for different industry sectors, and it’s essential to know each business type’s main peculiarities, risks, and needs. It will guarantee the food safety and minimize the contamination risks.

What Are The Advances in Food Safety Technology?

In today’s world, technical improvements have also got to the food and beverage industry, making it easier to ensure food safety. Some of the latest technological advancements have facilitated hazard monitoring, quality control, document management, and many other significant processes.

Automated temperature monitoring has now become a real thing. With sophisticated Bluetooth thermometers, it’s possible to measure temperatures accurately, indicate deviations and spoilage, and maintain the shelf life of perishable and other foods.

Food safety technology allows effective allergen management and detection. Now, it’s easier to detect, monitor, and label allergens in food, preventing potential allergic reactions among consumers.

Food businesses can now ensure proper sanitization with food safety technology. With tech devices, employees can assess the cleanliness of surfaces, take probes, and quickly react to potential issues, preventing food contamination.

Last but not least, modern software solutions allow the centralization and digitization of food safety compliance. It has become easier to control documentation, conduct quality control and assurance procedures, prepare for food safety audits, create and implement HACCP plans, etc. It allows you to control the whole food and beverage production process from one phone, ensuring food safety compliance, effective quality management, enhanced productivity, and operational efficiency.

Utilize FoodReady’s food safety software to streamline operations across your food and beverage business on a single cloud platform. It has a wide range of features like the HACCP builder, the A.I. SOP Assistant, document management, inventory control, audit preparation, and many others.

FoodReady also offers the help of qualified consultants who are willing to help you with a food safety plan and GFSI, FDA, SQF, BRC, and GFSI compliance. This is an affordable solution offering both technology advancement and human resources.

If you want to learn more about digitizing your food and beverage operations, book a demo, and our sales team will be happy to give you all the details.

How To Handle Pest Control in Food Storage and Preparation Areas?

Pests are one of the most undesirable problems in a facility. They can carry biological and physical hazards and diseases and are very dangerous to consumer health.

Pests will appear in poorly cleaned kitchens or storage areas. Several aspects might lead to pests:

  • Uncontrolled food waste
  • Lack of cleaning and sanitation
  • Bad personal hygiene – workers can bring pests to a facility
  • Unknown entry spots 

Overall, the leading cause of infestation is improper pest management.

If you notice any signs of pests like damaged packaging, smell, animal droppings, sounds, etc., you must contact the local pest control officer.

To prevent and avoid infestation, food companies must develop a comprehensive pest control plan as a prerequisite to a HACCP plan. You must regularly clean and sanitize the areas with food. The procedures must be regularly scheduled according to the plan and cleaning demand: some places will be cleaned more than others.

Pests are a widespread problem and negatively affect food safety. Constant hygiene and sanitation control within the food safety plan will help omit the issue. Prevention is always better than handling the problem.

What Foodborne Pathogens Can Hide in Food?

Foodborne illnesses are caused by eating food contaminated with pathogens and bacteria. Food manufacturers must know common foodborne pathogens that might cause serious diseases.

The FDA provides a list of the primary foodborne pathogens:

The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service also lists other common pathogens, like Clostridium botulinum, “Campylobacter” bacteria, molds, and food parasites.

These bacteria, viruses, parasites, and molds can contaminate a product at any stage of food production and distribution and can cause various conditions among people, from minor to life-threatening.

Diligent following food safety rules will help prevent the spread of foodborne illnesses. This includes cleaning and sanitization, temperature control, food processing, etc. Moreover, HACCP and other food safety systems play a fundamental role in finding and managing potential hazards in the food industry. Constant monitoring, audits, risk assessments, and other food safety processes will safeguard the food supply chain and deliver safe food to customers. 

But if an incident happens, and the FDA finds out about it. Together with the Coordinated Outbreak Response and Evaluation Network, the agency collaborates with partners and the Centers for Disease Control to detect the root cause and prevent other potential outbreaks.

FDA can also facilitate the voluntary recalls of potentially contaminated foods and has mandatory recall authorities under FSMA.

The Importance And Methods of Allergen Management

Allergens contain proteins that can cause allergic reactions in people who consume them.

Allergic reactions are a food safety issue among people. They can cause unpleasant outcomes and sometimes even fatal, so food and beverage manufacturers must pay attention to potential triggers in the food to ensure client safety.

According to the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004 (FALCPA), eight major foods cause allergic reactions: milk, eggs, fish, crustacean shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, and soybeans.

The FDA enforces proper allergen management and provides guidelines for effectively managing food allergen hazards. The agency controls that food and beverage companies properly label their products, listing all the ingredients. When it comes to foods with higher allergy risks, there are more stringent requirements for that.

The FDA conducts regular inspections and samplings to verify if the major food allergens are appropriately labeled, and the companies haven’t allowed allergen cross-contact or undeclared allergic hazards in food. In case of an issue, the FDA collaborates with companies to recall the products, alerts the public, and can remove the violative products from the market.

How To Improve Emergency Preparedness and Response for Food Safety?

Food business owners and managers should remember emergency preparedness and response to ensure the safety and resilience of food operations. It all starts with food safety risk assessment to find potential food safety hazards. There must be a delegated team with clearly established roles – they will be responsible for incident prevention and handling.

You will develop an emergency response plan with the team with evacuation procedures, communication strategies, and ways of safeguarding perishable foods when an emergency happens. Remember to review and update the plan based on changes in regulations, employees’ responsibilities, etc.

Prioritize personnel training to keep them familiar with emergency procedures. You can also implement technology for real-time monitoring, risk management, and communication in case of an incident. 

To be better prepared to respond to emergencies, you must monitor potential risks and hazards and possible threats like disease outbreaks, weather conditions, etc. The more you prepare for potential emergencies, the easier it is to tackle or avoid them.

Dealing With Time/Temperature Control for Safety (TCS) Foods

Perishable foods require more attention in terms of temperature control. When foods grow bacteria quickly and demand time and temperature controls, they are TCS foods, where TCS stands for Time and Temperature Controls for Safety.

TCS foods include eggs, dairy, fish, high-protein products, etc. Overall, this type of food contains products with high moisture and protein content or with high acidity. These elements create a suitable environment for bacteria growth if food is kept under a specific temperature for a long time.

To keep TCS foods safe, keep them at an established temperature and avoid temperature “danger zones” from 41° to 145° F. Proper storage and packaging practices will also help improve the shelf life of TCS foods and prevent contamination.

What Do You Need To Know About HACCP?

HACCP stands for Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point. According to the FDA, HACCP is a management system designed to address food safety by monitoring and controlling food’s biological, physical, and chemical hazards.

Seven HACCP principles are core to a successful HACCP plan and food safety management system:

  1. Conduct a hazard analysis.
  2. Determine the critical control points (CCPs).
  3. Establish critical limits.
  4. Establish monitoring procedures.
  5. Establish corrective actions.
  6. Establish verification procedures.
  7. Establish record-keeping and documentation procedures.

To create a HACCP plan for your business, you should deal with prerequisite programs, employee training, and SSOPs, and follow the 7 HACCP principles that are core to any HACCP plan.

Seven principles of HACCP

Companies can implement HACCP voluntarily, but it’s definitely better to work according to a HACCP plan and be HACCP-certified than not. 

Not only does commitment to HACCP and its principles improve product quality and safety, but it also maintains the brand integrity. It promotes the food and beverage business in a competitive market.

What Are The Methods Of Cross-Contamination Prevention?

Cross-contamination means contaminating food by bacteria and pathogens from other foods, equipment, hands, etc. It usually happens when dealing with raw meat, eggs, seafood, etc.

It’s crucial to know the strategies and rules to avoid cross-contamination:

  • Cleaning and disinfection is the key to prevent cross-contamination.
  • Keep raw foods separate from cooked products, and overall, keep the foods organized according to categories.
  • Prepare different foods in an assigned place for that purpose.
  • Use separate equipment for different food and purposes.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly and frequently and adhere to facility hygienic practices.
  • Use separate cleaning materials for each surface and place to clean.
  • Educate your staff on how to avoid cross-contamination.
  • Ensure proper temperature monitoring.
  • Use the FIFO (First in – first out) method to use older products earlier and prevent spoilage.

All these steps prevent cross-contamination from food, equipment, or a person to food. It’s not a one-day task requiring constant attention and diligence. You and your employees must be well aware of the practices and turn them into a habit. 

To help form that awareness, you can create tables and cards to remind people about dos and don’ts to avoid cross-contamination.

Conclusion

Food safety is a comprehensive issue requiring a lot of time and attention to acquire. It covers various aspects and notions like food safety management, standards, hazard control and prevention, incident and risk management, and many other things covered in this article. Commitment to food safety rules is fundamental to consumer safety and food business development and prosperity.

To ensure high food safety, food companies must implement food safety systems like HACCP, comply with international standards, and invest in training and continuous improvement. Regular inspections, audits, and technology implementation into the workflow will let businesses reap the rewards.

Consumer safety is a priority for the food and beverage industry, meaning every particle of food production must be controlled and managed correctly to avoid pathogens, pests, cross-contamination, etc.

Even though it might seem impossible, you can facilitate your food safety operations by implementing a software solution that will centralize the workflow and provide you with a complete overview of every aspect of food production.

Book a demo and see how FoodReady can help you develop a food safety plan, control sanitization procedures, monitor temperature, and do other indispensable tasks.

FAQs

The World Health Organization (WHO) provides us with 5 major rules of food safety:

  • keep clean;
  • separate raw and cooked;
  • cook thoroughly;
  • keep food at safe temperatures;
  • use safe water and raw materials.
Commitment to food safety helps improve public health, prevent foodborne illnesses, and boost the economy and product quality.
High-risk foods can be contaminated easily. These include meat and poultry, rice, seafood, dairy, cooked rice, etc.
There are physical, biological, and chemical hazards and allergens.

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Picture of Saro Loucks

Saro Loucks

Saro Loucks is the Director of Content and a Food Safety Advisor for FoodReady. Saro is certified in HACCP and a trained SQF Practitioner. When Saro is not editing, writing, or advising new customers on what food safety goals they should pursue, she enjoys spending time with her family, baking gluten-free sourdough bread, and playing Mahjong.
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