We're continuing our Hidden Dangers: Prevention series this week by turning our attention to frozen foods. Each product segment in the food industry faces unique risks and hazards related to the processes and equipment they use. We're highlighting some segment-specific hidden dangers and recommending preventive measures to stop them in their tracks.
Hidden Danger: Broken, cracked and chipped plastic utensils like shovels and scoops used in direct contact with the product can lead to potential foreign material risk and/or difficulty in cleaning.
Solution: Ensure these utensils are part of your pre-operational inspection to check for their integrity. Train your front-line employees on what to look for and who to contact to obtain replacement utensils.
Hidden Danger: Utility knives used to trim products such as fruit and/or vegetables that have employees' names etched into the blade create a niche harborage area for bacteria and do not allow for proper cleaning.
Solution: As part of your sharps/metal/knife inspection program, train inspectors to look for etching on knives. Another good time to look for this is when knives are turned in for sharpening.
Hidden Danger: Numerous temporary repairs with tape can create a foreign material risk.
Solution: Train employees on your temporary repair policy and use the self-inspection program for verification. When employees make temporary repairs, make sure they know who to identify and how to report them. This ensures maintenance is aware of the temporary repair and permanent repairs are made in a timely manner to prevent potential foreign material risks.
Hidden Danger: Lack of an Environmental Monitoring Program (mainly for Listeria and Salmonella).
Solution: There are several industry training options to provide you with the specific knowledge you need to have the safest Environmental Monitoring Program possible to help identify harborage niches that may promote cross contamination.
Hidden Danger: Cross contamination between cooked and raw vegetables in containers such as totes.
Solution: Properly identify work-in-process containers by labeling or color-coding them and train employees on the importance of using the correct one for its intended use.