Safety in food manufacturing protects your workers and consumers while ensuring your company creates a quality product that people trust. Incorporating proper safety measures can also save your company hours and costs that you might otherwise lose due to damage control. We will look at five ways you can examine your food manufacturing business to ensure you have the best safety measures in place.
- Automation in food safety helps you reduce the chances of contaminated products.
- The best safety practices should be proactive instead of only reactive as they will save you valuable time and money.
- When you implement safety practices, also be sure your team has proper training and awareness to tackle the issues as a unified company.
5 of the Best Practices for Food Safety in Manufacturing
Food safety in manufacturing must be a group effort involving several teams working together. Here are five areas you can address to improve the safety practices of your team. Before you begin, take a moment to watch the following video summary of food safety in production.
1. Improve Your Workforce Management
Workforce management is the processes and leadership within your manufacturing company that ensure you adhere to the best safety measures. Consider investing in a specific team dedicated to upholding food safety standards to improve your workforce management. This team will track all your processes and create detailed and flexible plans for reacting when an issue arises so that everyone has a clear action plan.
The safety management team should also work with your supply chain management team to track, store, and analyze data. For example, your management team should know where all the products have been, where they are in the process, and where you sent them. This information will let your food safety team know who to contact when outbreaks occur.
A strong workforce management system will help you unify your team so that everyone knows the proper processes and current safety regulations. In this way, each team within your food manufacturing company doesn’t have their own rules to follow. Rather, everyone follows the same overarching standards of the organization.
2. Incorporate Automation
Automation helps businesses attain a higher level of safety and quality. The industrial automation market in the food safety industry is expected to grow by $553.48 million between 2020 and 2024. The image below details this growth in more detail. This new growth will help food manufacturers perform tasks in safer and healthier ways by implementing more technology in the food industry. For example, companies can eliminate human contact in many areas by switching to automated machinery, decreasing the chances of spreading foodborne pathogens.
Technology can also help in other food safety processes. For example, you can also use equipment like x-ray inspection scanners to detect foreign contaminants, proper packaging, and more. Devices like that can also help you offer higher quality products to your consumers.
3. Take Proactive Measures
The best food manufacturing approach is to be proactive in your safety practices. For example, avoid overly relying on quality control after food is processed and ready to be shipped to retailers or restaurants. Instead, use the data you collect through artificial intelligence to identify potential problems before they arise and put policies in place to prevent them from occurring.
Below is a chart from the CDC that identifies the top 15 foods that caused outbreak-associated illnesses in a ten-year period. This study shows you which foods are most susceptible to contamination and need extra safety measures in place. An example of proactive measures is a business that uses this kind of data to streamline their resources and focus on the proven problem areas.
When incidents occur, timing is crucial for ensuring you respond before the incident becomes too widespread. Your most important proactive plan is your recall plan. A recall plan should include:
- Data collection systems to record details like how and when the contamination occurred for analysis to ensure it doesn’t reoccur
- Contact channels for reaching the public, retailers, and restaurants affected by the recall
- A product return plan for collecting and compensating your customers
4. Ensure Quality and Safety
Monitoring and enforcing your safety and quality standards protects both your consumers and your employees and should be a central part of your safety management plan. For example, most foodborne illnesses come from contaminated hands as reported by the CDC. This same study showed that if everyone washed their hands, they could prevent one million deaths globally. Your duty is to ensure your employees understand the significance of hand washing and have systems in place to remind and encourage that vital safety step. That is just one of many examples of how businesses actively build a workplace that focuses on safety.
Your workers aren’t only susceptible to spreading contaminations but also contracting illnesses from the raw ingredients they handle. Therefore, you must also equip your workers with the necessary protective clothing, hats, gloves, eyewear, and other industry-specific gear to ensure they don’t spread or contract any unwanted bacteria or contaminates. Another way you can protect your workers, and the manufacturing plant is by offering generous sick leave so that your workers don’t feel obligated to come to work when they don’t feel well.
5. Prioritize Training
You can help your team understand the importance of food safety by holding regular training and educational classes. For example, everyone in the team should know how contaminants spread and how to prevent the introduction of foreign bodies into products. Training might involve the correct process to undergo before returning to food processing from lunch break to ensure they don’t bring allergens from their lunch to the processing floor. Here are a few other examples of safety basics employees should follow in health and safety practices:
- How to keep an eye out for risks and report them
- How to adhere to sanitary standards like washing hands and wearing protective gear
- How to ensure they don’t take food or allergens where products are handled
- How to provide feedback to management about practices that the company could improve
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