Food manufacturers must have the correct product inspection systems in place, with consultation to guarantee that they meet the increasingly stringent demands imposed on them by governments and retailers worldwide.
Successful brand owners know they need to fully understand and comply with changing food safety regulations to ensure their products are fit to be sold in lucrative markets.
There are a number of myths regarding food safety standards that must be dispelled. By separating myths from facts, manufacturers will gain a greater understanding of the regulations governing the industry, and this will help them guarantee the quality of their products while ensuring consumer safety.
Myth #6: One critical control point at the end of the production line is sufficient
In some simple production processes, a single critical control point (CCP) is sufficient. In other more complex processes or applications where multiple processes are involved, there is an increased risk of contamination and it may be prudent to install ‘in-process’ CCPs.
Ultimately in many cases to demonstrate due diligence and the ability to trace contamination to the source, it is necessary to establish CCPs throughout the entire production process.
A typical production line could have several points where contamination is possible, and all of these points should be identified as critical control points by an HACCP audit.
This enables contamination traceability in the production process and allows manufacturers to correct flaws and prevent future contamination, in compliance with regulations such as the BRC Food Standard Version 6, Clause 188.8.131.52.
By identifying contamination and quality defects such as over- or underfilling early, such CCPs can also prevent product waste and help reduce costs.
Myth #7: The Global Food Safety Initiative is a certification
The Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) is a non-profit foundation managed by The Consumer Goods Forum and is dedicated to harmonising food safety standards worldwide to make it easier for food manufacturers to comply with regulations.
This is a vital initiative in an industry where manufacturers are operating increasingly complex multinational supply chains, with raw materials sourced in a different region from where they are processed, and from where final products are sold.
Food manufacturers cannot receive a GFSI certification, but they can be certified to a standard approved by the GFSI organisation. Examples include the BRC Food Standard, IFS Food Standard, Safe Quality Food (SQF) Code and the FSSC 22000. Most GFSI-approved food safety initiatives are based on the HACCP system.
Myth #8: There is no need to keep records of product inspection
The required length of time to hold onto product inspection system documentation varies from region to region, as well as from manufacturer to manufacturer.
However, it is in the brand owner’s best interest to retain performance records for as long as possible. Many food products, particularly dried and processed foods, have extended shelf lives. It is necessary to take this into consideration when planning and organising the data logging and storage system of a production line.
This will ensure that food manufacturers can demonstrate due diligence should a problem occur, regardless of how long ago the product was manufactured.
Myth #9: Fault condition monitoring in inspection devices is not necessary
Many food safety regulations now also require product inspection systems to include advanced condition monitoring in preference to traditional fault monitoring.
A fault monitoring system alerts operators when there is a fault in the product inspection machine, whereas an advanced condition monitoring system gives early warning of adverse trends in performance before the failure actually occurs and before safety standards are compromised.
This offers manufacturers the opportunity to plan maintenance and rectification work during natural breaks or when production or process lines are not running.
This gives manufactures the confidence that their inspection systems are correctly monitoring the performance of production lines and also allows them to reduce maintenance downtime and costs.
Myth #10: All auditors operate with the same structure
It simply is not the case that all audits are the same. The audit procedure will vary according to the standard the food manufacturer is expected to comply with, the auditing company, the records available from the manufacturer and the particular application.
Depending on the type of contaminant threat, certain food products require specific auditing procedures which should be taken into account when considering data logging and storage.
Correctly documented and logged performance records can help manufacturers reduce audit times and the intensity of investigations.
When documentation on product inspection tests and contaminant detection is logically stored and comprehensive, there is less need to probe deeper for information on processes and validation procedures.
- Neil Giles is marketing communications manager at Mettler-Toledo Product Inspection Division of Mettler-Toledo, in the UK. He specialises across x-ray, metal detection, vision inspection and checkweighing product inspection technologies. A member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing, he has over 20 years of experience in the food and pharmaceutical industries and knowledge of equipment for the packaging, process weighing and inspection sectors.
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