Tag Archives: food

Don’t Be in a Brush Rush…

Ah, the beauty and purity of a new cleaning tool. Freshly removed from any packaging, and unsullied by the elements: nothing but possibility ahead of it. Whether you enjoy opening new tools as much as I apparently do, or you are more in the “pop it open, because there is a ton of stuff to do” camp, there are a few tips that our friends from Remco have provided to get the best out of your new cleaning tool. These simple steps help to ensure safety before the first use.

How to Prepare a New Cleaning Tool for Use
New cleaning tools—especially those sealed in plastic pouches like the ones from Vikan® and Remco—often look like they’re ready for use right out of the bag. It’s easy to assume these tools can start sweeping, mopping, and brushing right away, however, as most in the food industry know, looking clean isn’t the same as actually being clean. Here are a few steps that must be taken to ensure all new tools are ready for use in food production plants:

Remove Any Labels
Vikan® and Remco both apply labels directly to some of their products, as do many other cleaning tool manufacturers and distributors. Ideally, these labels will peel off easily, especially when they’re dry. If there’s a problem removing a label or there’s residual stickiness, simply use a washrag with warm water and soap, or use a sponge soaked in vinegar to remove the label and any adhesive left behind. It’s easier to peel labels when they’re dry, but a little extra effort may be needed for particularly stubborn adhesives. It’s essential to remove the label and adhesive fully, as the sticky residue can be a trap for debris and bacteria.

Clean the Tool
New tools may seem clean, but they’re produced in factory environments that do not have the same rigorous sanitation requirements as food manufacturing facilities. Put new tools through an industrial dishwasher or hand wash them, depending on what the plant’s HACCP plans call for during the tool’s regular usage. Either cleaning option may help remove any remaining label residue, along with preparing the tool for its first use. Don’t make the mistake of assuming a broom or a squeegee that will be used in a low-risk environment is “clean enough” when it comes out of the package. The tool should still be cleaned.

Sanitize for High-Risk Conditions
Decide how clean a tool should be before use, follow HACCP plans for how they’ll be cleaned during their regular usage. If a tool will be used in a high-risk environment, it should be sterilized before its first use, ensuring any microbes that may have contaminated the item before it arrived to you are fully destroyed. If a tool is going to be used in a low or medium-risk facility, simply cleaning and sanitizing the tool should be enough for it to be used safely.

Dry the Tool
No tool is clean without having been dried first. Whether by hanging it or by putting it through an industrial dishwasher’s drying cycle, tools must be dry to be considered clean. This helps prevent mold and other microorganism growth and ensures the tool is ready for use.

Once these steps are complete, the tools are ready for their designed purposes in food processing plants. Remember to maintain tools by keeping them free of debris and cleaning them frequently. Regular maintenance—starting with these first steps—will keep tools hygienic and help them last longer.

Nelson-Jameson carries a wide selection of color-coded products, including the full line of Remco products. Contact us today to learn more about the many ways Nelson-Jameson and our industry partners can help you get the tools you need on your pathway to creating safe, quality food.

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FDA Inspections: Where are We Going?

Not only has COVID put a significant dent in our social lives, but it also has impacted many operations and practices throughout food processing facilities. Unfortunately, this includes one area that has consumers worried, inspections of food facilities. With all the new requirements and protocols that have come out of this pandemic, the industry has had to learn to alter their inspections. Some are even using video technology as a substitute. With COVID laying a foundation that will likely alter the way inspections are completed in the future, what should processing facilities across the country expect moving forward?

According to the FDA, inspectors are “required to inspect facilities that handle high-risk foods every three years. Facilities handling foods not deemed high-risk must be inspected every five years” (Fox, 2019, pp. 13). With being in the midst of a global pandemic, the FDA has halted these inspections, but is still conducting some necessary inspections for specific scenarios like outbreaks of foodborne illness and Class 1 recalls. 

To temporarily replace in-person inspections, many auditors are allowing for special accommodations to be made such as remote and hybrid audits (Black, 2021, pp. 5).

Aside from the FDA, other auditors such as BRCGS and SQFI are offering blended options. BRCGS is offering certificate extensions for up to 6 months with a risk assessment and review. Remote assessments are also available and require a video audit of the facilities storage and production spaces. SQFI is postponing certifications for extenuating circumstances and have implemented additional processes for risk assessment (Black, 2021, pp. 7). For more information on other auditors current COVID policies, click here.

Once in-person audits can resume in the future, the FDA plans to host pre-announced audits for FDA-regulated businesses. According to an interview with Frank Yiannas, it is predicted that health and safety are going to be important factors moving forward with inspections. It is also assumed that consumers are going to want to know not only how their food is produced, but also how it will be safe enough for them to eat. Fortunately, the FDA is in the works of implementing a Smarter Food safety initiative that will allow for a digital way to trace the food system (U.S. food & Drug Admin., 2020, pp. 31).

As for now it seems unknown when in-person audits will fully resume. The FDA stated in a press release that they will likely resume when there is a consistent downward trend in new COVID cases and hospitalizations in geographic areas they are working in (2020, pp. 6). Until then, they will continue to make significant strives with food safety, making it stronger than ever.

Sources:

Black, J. (2021, January 29). Food Safety Audits During a Pandemic: What You Should Know and How to Prepare. FoodSafetyTech. https://foodsafetytech.com/column/food-safety-audits-during-a-pandemic-what-you-should-know-and-how-to-prepare/.

FDA. (2020, April 16). Food Safety and Availability During and Beyond COVID-19. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. https://www.fda.gov/food/conversations-experts-food-topics/fdas-perspective-food-safety-and-availability-during-and-beyond-covid-19.

Fox, M. (2019, January 15). FDA to resume food safety inspections Tuesday. NBC News. https://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/fda-resume-food-safety-inspections-tuesday-n958631.

Hahn, S. M. (2020, July 10). Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update: FDA prepares for resumption of domestic inspections with new risk assessment system. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/coronavirus-covid-19-update-fda-prepares-resumption-domestic-inspections-new-risk-assessment-system.

 Sjerven, J. (2021, January 21). COVID-19 forces FDA to alter food safety inspection practices. Food Business News. https://www.foodbusinessnews.net/articles/15740-covid-19-forces-fda-to-alter-food-safety-inspection-practices.
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The Food Safety Modernization Act: An Undertaking in Progress

Ten years…that’s a long time, right?  But…not really.  The more I see 10th, 20th, or 25th anniversary releases of favorite albums or movies, the more I feel like time is slipping away…and ten years seems more like a blink.   So, when you consider the dichotomy of the slow and all-too-quick hands of time, it’s impressive how much has been accomplished, and yet how far we have to go in food safety since the Food Safety Modernization Act was enacted in early 2011.   

As much as it would be great to go with either a “yay” or “nay” as to whether it has been a success, like many pieces of major legislation, there have been both phenomenal strides as well as stagnation.  As food safety is a complex undertaking, involving waves of domestic and global political and trade relations, budgetary concerns, etc., the quality assurance of the Act itself can be a challenge at times.  As we’ll see though, overwhelmingly, FSMA has represented a tectonic shift in approaching food safety concerns, and has set the table (yes, that just happened) for increasing advances in the coming years.

The data suggests that we do have a long way to go.  The CDC succinctly summarized this in “Preliminary Incidence and Trends of Infections with Pathogens Transmitted Commonly Through Food — Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network, 10 U.S. Sites, 2016–2019” stating that: “The incidence of most infections transmitted commonly through food has not declined for many years.”  Although disappointing to those invested and concerned about food safety, it is important to remember that FSMA is not a stagnant absolute, existing in a vacuum of regulatory comfort.

Instead, FSMA, like food safety itself, is a continuously evolving and changing entity.  To respond to new science and to new challenges, FSMA depends on building on foundational scientific knowledge, while adeptly adjusting to the reality of challenges of the time (COVID-19 being a great example).  Though there is a long way to go, FSMA has achieved numerous outcomes that have been important to the industry and to the march towards a safer food system.   

As Sandra Eskin, of Pew Charitable Trusts, noted in a recent food safety session at IDFA’s Dairy Forum, the reality is that while FSMA is ten years old, the compliance dates established to meet the goals of FSMA are only now a few years old. This complicates our “FSMA at 10” theme a bit, but we can surmise a great deal from both those years of buildup and those of ennactation/enforcement.   Here is a sampling of what has been accomplished by FSMA so far, as outlined by Deputy Commissioner of Food Safety Frank Yiannas in his “A Decade Later, FDA Still Working on Congressional Mandate Known as FSMA:”

  1. Food producers “must have food safety plans that include an analysis of hazards and risk-based preventive controls to minimize or prevent these hazards.”  
  2. Improved “regulatory oversight of produce and food importers.”
  3. Implemented practices to prevent food safety risks during transportation.
  4. Gained: “additional enforcement authorities, such as mandatory recall when a manufacturer fails to voluntarily pull unsafe food from the market and suspension of registration to prevent a facility from selling or distributing unsafe food.

To add to these and other advances, the FDA this year encouragingly released their “New Era of Food Safety” blueprint, laying out areas of development in the next decade of FSMA.   Along with increased traceability initiatives, meaningful use of technology, and business/retail model modernization, the blueprint centrally is built upon creating “food safety cultures.”  This means making food safety a shared goal by everyone in the plant, in the supply chain, and beyond—top down and bottom up investment–everyone is in on it.  This should further encourage that “tectonic shift” mentioned previously, fundamentally shifting existing perspectives on food safety in the industry.  The ability to shape the future of food safety and cultures of food safety will be dependent on education, industry/regulatory/academic partnership, collaboration, and advocacy on Capitol Hill, just as the shifting of views from reactionary to preventative action required these first ten years.  

As Dick Groves stated in his editorial in the Jan. 15th issue of The Cheese Reporter, “Simply put, the food safety culture matters more than regulations.”  Groves makes a good point about the centrality of food safety culture; however, perhaps it is a mixture of conceptual shifts and continued dependence on education and partnership to further spread the gospel of food safety and regulatory knowledge/standards (consider that not having an adequate hazard analysis is still one of the most commonly cited violations by the FDA) that will make the next ten years truly effective in the fight against foodborne illness. 

Ten years indeed can feel conversely like an eternity and a blink of an eye.  The first decade of FSMA has been an experiment in adaptation.  And it will continue to be so for the next ten, marrying the realities of regulatory standards with an embrace of a holistic framework of food safety and food safety culture at all levels (including establishing this at the federal level…which is crucial for funding).  Together we can continue to learn, improve, and work together towards this common goal.  Food safety is not a destination, it is a journey.  We must continue working together as an industry to reduce risk in the food supply chain, relentlessly combatting foodborne illness.  No matter how far we are able to push that boulder up the hill, there will always be further to go. Many hands make light work, though, so let’s all commit to the effort and make the next 10 years count.

Source(s):

Marler Clark. (2021, February 9). FDA’s data for 2020 shows top five violation categories at food facilities. Food Safety News. https://www.foodsafetynews.com/2021/02/fdas-data-for-2020-shows-top-five-violation-categories-at-food-facilities/?utm_source=Food%2BSafety%2BNews&utm_campaign=280373c947-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_f46cc10150-280373c947-40046447#.

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Knowledge at Your Fingertips

Resources made available with Nelson-Jameson’s Learning Center! This educational learning library was created to encourage our customers to seek out information, when applicable, to aid them in making informed purchasing decisions within the food, dairy, and beverage industries. By providing this free resource for anyone to use, our goal is to have you feel comfortable and confident in the products you purchase.

An intriguing aspect of our Learning Center is that the information we are providing is supplied to us by manufacturers, and industry associations. It is our goal to relay to you the most up-to-date information for your convenience. The information within this resource falls into several categories: Laboratory & QA/QC, Packaging & IngredientsProcess & Flow ControlSafety, and Sanitation & Maintenance. Within each of these 5 areas, there is a range of subtopics that we determined were important for our customers to expand their knowledge on. Here is a brief overview of each of these sections:

Laboratory & QA/QC: We offer food safety products and solutions that help the food and beverage industries protect the quality of their products by utilizing proven, methods-based laboratory procedures. Learn more about Hydrating 3M™ Petrifilm Plates, pH Electrode Selection Guide, pH Testing Tips, and Nelson-Jameson pH Buffers, and more.
Packaging & Ingredients: Food safety begins with quality ingredients and packaging. Learn more information about our wide line of food and dairy ingredients, Choosing Cheese Packaging, Selecting Cultures & Coagulants for Taste & Texture, and Packaging Films.
Process & Flow Control: Keep food and beverage production running smoothly. Learn more from these resources designed to help meet your unique food, dairy, and beverage needs, such as Hose Maintenance Tips, Gaskets, Pump Maintenance, and Filtration Ratings.
Safety: In the food, dairy, and beverage industries, it is important to protect employees from injury and food product from possible contamination. To protect your assets, learn more about Noise Reduction Ratings, Protective Clothing Materials, Footwear Sizing, and peruse our Glove Selection Guide.
Sanitation & Maintenance: Keep your plant clean and safe with quality sanitation and janitorial products. Learn more about Broom Bristle Options, Insect & Pest Control, and Disinfectant Mats™.

At Nelson-Jameson, we strive to make our customers’ lives easier by providing products, solutions, and technical expertise when needed. Whether it’s figuring out how to clean a tank properly or learning about broom bristle options, Nelson-Jameson is your one stop shop—Click here to view our Learning Center and learn more about our areas of expertise!

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New Year, New Sanitation Program

Achieve an effective sanitation program in your facility with footwear and surface sanitation products! In the food production process, cross-contamination can occur at any point. Employees can track in a myriad of potential contaminants and unknowingly put an operation at risk each time they breeze through a doorway to a production area. Having an effective sanitation program in place that addresses employee hygiene is key.

A primary route of contamination is the bottom of people’s shoes, so cleaning footwear has become just as important as washing hands when coming into a facility. “Items which contact the floor are contaminated and could serve as vectors; despite daily cleaning of high-touch surfaces such as floors, it has already been shown that bacterial and viral contamination return rather quickly” (Pyrek, 2018, pp. 1). To help combat this issue, Nelson-Jameson carries several options for minimizing contamination from footwear including: Boot Scrubbers, Doorway Foamers, and Disinfectant Mats. These products are designed to be located at entryways of facilities to remind employees to clean and sanitize their shoes upon entry.

Cleaning and sanitizing surfaces is also an integral part of a sanitation program. Having the correct sanitizers for your processing facility can prevent the spread of microorganisms that cause foodborne illness. At Nelson-Jameson we have a full line of Alpet® Sanitizers that are both food contact and non-food contact approved for your facility.

Overall, this program is designed to aid in preparing your facility to be sanitized, but you can’t sanitize without cleaning first. It’s apparent that many individuals interchangeably use the terms cleaning and sanitizing, when in fact they are different. Cleaning is described as the physical removal of visible dirt, soil, food particles, grease, or allergens from equipment, utensils, or work surfaces. On the other hand, sanitizing reduces the number of harmful microorganisms from a cleaned surface. Cleaning must always come before sanitizing. If cleaning is skipped, the sanitizing process will be ineffective as oil, grease, and dust deactivate sanitizers. While these products are not guaranteed to remove all bacteria, they do bring the amount down to a safe level.

Start preparing your processing facility today—request or download our updated 12-page Footwear & Surface Sanitation Flyer. It contains an array of products to help make protecting your facility and products easier!

Sources:

Pyrek, K. M. (2018, October 31). Shoe Sole and Floor Contamination: A New Consideration in the Environmental Hygiene Challenge for Hospitals. Infection Control Today.      https://www.infectioncontroltoday.com/view/shoe-sole-and-floor-contamination-new-consideration-environmental-hygiene.

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