Tag Archives: HACCP

SQF – What It Takes To Score 100%

The score everyone wants to achieve for any “test” we have taken (from grade school through post-secondary education) is 100%. One Hundred is also the score that any company involved with the Safe Quality Food (SQF) standard wants to achieve.

But…What does 100% mean in SQF?

Does it mean that your company is doing everything right? What is involved in getting that score? What does it take to maintain it? 

First, congratulations on becoming SQF certified. Learning the SQF code and preparing your facility takes time. On average it’s about 6 months from the time a company opts into the program until the time they earn the certification. Much of this time is spent preparing for the audit through paperwork trails and training programs. The audit itself is a very short process in and of itself. The average audit is only 2-3 days; which means a company is preparing for the audit the other 362 days of the year. 

Click here to learn more about getting started with SQF.

What Does An Auditor Look For?

Anyone that has been through an SQF audit knows that it is a “snapshot in time.” Your auditor will even tell you this in your opening meeting. The auditor certainly cannot see everything a company is doing in just 2-3 days. SQF auditors, however, are well trained. The certification process to become an auditor is lengthy and there is annual continuing education involved. These auditors are also well versed in the SQF code. Many are crossed-trained and can audit multiple codes and categories within the SQF umbrella. When a company is undergoing an audit, they must provide documentation pertaining to Module 2 of the code (whether your scope is in manufacturing, retail or distribution, module 2 is the same.) In Module 2 the auditor is looking at a company’s management responsibilities as well as programs involving food safety (HACCP), manufacturing practices (GMP), verifications of these programs, trending, internal inspections and allergen management in addition to a number of others. 

Sitting through the desk audit can be painstaking. Hours of auditor questions and offerings of company program documents to show that a company is doing what they say they are doing. An auditor will then take knowledge of the company’s programs and make their way to the warehouse or processing site to make comparisons. Again, asking themselves, “Is the company doing what they say they are doing?” 

The auditor will review prerequisite programs. These programs may involve cleaning, maintenance, pest control, and temperature controls to name only a few. Documentation of these activities must be impeccable. An auditor will look for inaccuracies, missing information and lack of detail. They will also be looking for trends in program management. The auditor will make comparisons from month to month through the documentation provided. An auditor may then interview personnel, with questions pertaining to their job functions and programs such as allergen management or temperature control. 

Your Auditor Is Your Friend

The auditor is not in a facility to fail them or “find” something wrong. The auditor is there to observe and research the processes. Remember, the audit itself is merely a snapshot of what is likely getting done throughout the remainder of the year. Findings by auditors can be very minor and cause the loss of only a point or two on an audit or they may find a complete breakdown in a process which will lead to a follow-up audit 6 months later. 

When an auditor is satisfied with the information they have received, both visually, verbally and in type they will review findings if any were observed and create a report.  No findings means that the auditor found nothing in the paperwork or processes that was of concern, as it applies to the SQF code. With that, a company earns a score of 100%. 

Achieving A High Score Is A Team Effort

Yes 100% is attainable and sustainable. It does not come without hard work and dedication. Not only must the SQF Practitioner and upper management continue to work on the program, all personnel involved in the company’s processes must be diligent in making certain that they are carrying out the functions of the company’s Food Safety Plan, every single day. 

Nelson-Jameson and its employees are dedicated to Food Safety. 100% has been achieved in our SQF certified facilities 8 times consecutively. Will this happen every year? Possibly not. However, we will continue to strive for that score. Achieving a score that is not easily given out is a great morale booster for employees, as well as an assurance to partners and customers that the safety and integrity of products that come through our distribution center is our top priority.

Find out more about the SQF code at:  https://www.sqfi.com/

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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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How Clean is Clean?

Food manufactures know they must produce a safe, quality food product that their customers will continue to trust. To do this they must be diligent in their quality assurance programs. Are you giving your sanitation group the proper allotted time and training to always perform their duties correctly? If you are involved in food manufacturing you want to answer “YES.”  But in reality, you have to implement programs to ensure the effective cleaning of your processes and equipment prior to each day’s start of production.

To be proactive many food manufacturers use a surface ATP (adenosine triphosphate-the energy molecule stored in all microorganisms) bioluminescence testing method. The ATP that is measured from a sample may be from food residue, bacteria, yeast, mold or some combination of these. Keep in mind the ATP methods only give a broad indication of the presence of organic substances and not specific microorganisms. This is a quick and simple to use system designed to detect ATP on surfaces after cleaning and prior to applying sanitation chemicals. If the ATP level found surpasses your established threshold the equipment must be re-cleaned and tested to confirm the surface is clean. By utilizing ATP testing this allows the sanitization group to improve their work immediately.

Monitoring your facilities hygiene is critical when it comes to HARPC and HACCP compliance. As part of comprehensive food safety program, it can also bring a great deal of peace of mind. If you compare the investment in strengthening your sanitization program verses the total costs associated with an outbreak or product recall (consider possible harm to your customers, litigation costs, wasted product, production downtime, and damage to your brand), the choice becomes pretty clear.

Simply put, ATP testing methods are an important tool in looking beyond the surface when it comes to clean. Keep an eye out for more ATP news right here on the Wide Line blog, including exciting new developments in ATP technology provided by 3M later this year. In the meantime, we’re here to help you with all of your ATP and environmental testing needs! Help is just a click or a call away!

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Product Focus: Lining Up for the Kill – Fighting Pathogens with the “HACCP Defender”

1002844To amend a famous phrase: “Nothing can be said to be certain, except death, taxes…and pathogens.” That is right. These tenacious little trouble makers are constantly knocking at our doors in the food industry. It is hard not to resent their tenacity and the ill effects they bring with them on a daily basis. However, there is hope! Get ready to give our microscopic mischief makers the boot!

A new tool in the fight against pathogens called the “HACCP Defender Boot Sanitizing System” will have your employees lining up to focus on this very issue.  The HACCP Defender is a walk-in station that utilizes the proven power of Alpet D2 Surface Sanitizer to thoroughly treat employees’ boots before they walk into critical areas of your operation.

The HAACP Defender uses infrared sensors to operate control doors and sprayers, that combined are designed to ensure boots get a thorough application of ALPET D2. Featuring stainless steel construction, the walk-in design reduces chemical waste and controls moisture, ensuring a safe and easy way to combat the threat of pathogens on a daily basis.

To check out more information and view the HACCP Defender in action click here, or contact Devon Jones, MRO Product Manager, at 800-826-8302 to discuss how the HACCP Defender can help your operation kick pathogens out of daily operations from your food industry operation.

PDF Specification Sheet

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