As a food manufacturer your reputation, and therefore your success, relies on the quality of your product. It’s not just about it tasting fantastic. Customers need to feel safe choosing your products, having a food recall of just one of your products can have a knock-on effect on your entire range.
The simple fact is that thanks to food safety regulations, customers are more aware of the standards and more concerned when food falls short. That’s why you need to take all reasonable steps to avoid food contamination.
Of course, accidents can happen, as can deliberate sabotage. But, the right procedures should pick up any issue before it becomes a recall.
- The Right Equipment
The first step you need to take is to use industrial food machinery. This is the easiest to clean and ensures you have dedicated machinery for each part of the food preparation process. By adopting this approach you’re showing others you’re serious about food prep.
Of course, separate equipment reduces the likelihood of cross-contamination in the food preparation process. The fact that it’s easier to clean also reduces the risk of allergens being introduced into the mix.
The next step is to assess your vulnerability. This means reviewing every stage of the production process and identifying when and where it’s possible for someone to tamper, accidentally or intentionally, with the food preparation process.
Identifying where the risk areas are will help you to take steps to eliminate them. It’s worth noting that you may not be able to eliminate the risk completely. In this case, you’ll need to make sure there are adequate security checks in place.
- Testing Protocol
To help ensure all food is leaving your premises to the right standard you need to develop a testing protocol. That means knowing what you are testing for and ensuring that all batches are randomly tested. Any discrepancy will need to be investigated immediately to prevent recalls after they have been released.
The testing process should include calibrating the equipment. It’s important to see this as a separate role to production, this will ensure it always has the resources to test accurately.
One of the most common causes of cross-contamination is actually in how the food is stored! In many cases space is very limited and finished products end up being stored near the raw ingredients. This increases the likelihood of cross-contamination occurring.
Of course, this can lead to issues with the taste, quality, or even the safety of your product. While the controls described above should pick up the issue, this will only stop it from being sent out. In reality, the entire production batch will be wasted and that can be an expensive setback for the company.
It’s much more cost-effective to ensure the products are separated by designing the factory process properly.
- Foreign Bodies
One of the biggest issues with food production and the reason for most recalls is when customers find foreign objects in their food. Some of the most common contaminants are glass, rubber, and plastic. These are generally pieces from the production process, specifically the machines and other elements of the production process.
You can prevent these foreign bodies by creating and applying controls. These should ensure that all machines are checked daily for damage and wear and tear. Providing it’s the same member of staff undertaking the process, they will be able to easily identify any issue with the machines and notify the relevant person.
This will pause the production while the risk is assessed and the issue resolved.
Again, the cost of pausing production is much less than the damage to your reputation if a product is recalled.
Developing the right safeguards and checks is essential if you want to avoid recalls. However, these procedures need to be followed and adhered to. For that to happen, the staff needs to be aware of all the protocols and to implement them.
The only way to ensure they are doing this is to train them regularly, this means refreshing the training and ensuring they are aware of what happens if they don’t adhere to the training. After all, a recall can damage the reputation of the business causing a drop in sales. This inevitably leads to lay-offs that aren’t what your staff or you want.
It’s important to put the right procedures in place. But, it is also essential that you give your staff the opportunity to voice their own concerns. It’s often true that, despite the effort you put into spotting issues, the staff on the front line are more aware of problems.
If they are comfortable telling you issues and potential solutions you’ll reduce the likelihood of recalls. You’ll also gain their loyalty which is great for atmosphere, motivation, and staff retention.