Food Processing Safety Basics

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Businesses in the Food Industry need to understand the importance of food safety and implement an effective food sanitation program in their facility. This holds true for restaurants, packaging plants, delis, bakeries, butcher shops, diners, and a slew of others.

Each of the following areas plays a large role in creating a safe environment for the production, processing, and packaging of all foods. When it comes to the preparation of food, so many food safety disasters could have been avoided if the proper actions took place. Remember the following topic areas to ensure a more sanitary environment for food preparation and handling.

Employee Personal Hygiene is Essential

  • All employees need to present themselves with clean body, hair, and clothing on a daily basis. In addition, employees must remain jewelry free while working and should refrain from smoking or chewing gum. It is important for employees to remember to cover all open wounds before handling ingredients and, whenever possible, cover their mouth when sneezing or coughing.
  • Hairnets or hair restraints should be worn at all times when working in a processing or packaging plant.
  • Remember, you can never wash your hands too many times. It is important that employees rewash their hands whenever they are exposed to germs/contaminants.

What or Whom is Responsible for Unsafe Food?

  • Food stored at the wrong temperature usually ends up filled with contaminants. Product many also become cross-contaminated when moving from one department to another within a processing plant.
  • Infected employees can pass their germs along to the food they handle in a processing facility. Even those who do not directly handle food may transmit germs to employees who do.

Foods with the Highest Safety Hazard Risks

  • Meats and dairy products, especially eggs, are most prone to food safety risks.
  • All food products must receive proper handling in order to guard against contaminants.

Cost of Contaminated Food Related Illness

  • Large fines are incurred by processing plants found to be in violation of safety guidelines.
  • Failures in plant sanitation that result in consumer illness can result in lawsuits and severely diminished brand value.
  • Extended periods of production downtime can occur if the plant is shut down because of an outbreak or recall.

Guidelines for Basic Food Safety

  • Make sure eggs, meat, and fish are inspected by the USDA and certified for human consumption.
  • All ingredients must be stored at proper temperatures, according to guidelines, and established industry standards. This holds true throughout the entire food production process.
  • All finished products must be inspected for signs of contamination or improper handling before they leave the facility.
  • Employees must always wash their hands before handling any food products. They should also wash their hands after touching anything that would be deemed unsanitary or possibly contaminated. Proper sanitizing solutions must be used when washing hands.

Minimizing food safety risks can be achieved by following food safety guidelines, making sure your staff understands and follows sanitation procedures, and performing the correct preventative measures. Developing and following a sanitation program in your facility will ensure that your products are safe for your customers.