Contamination of products in the food processing industry is a major cause of public health concerns today. Food recalls can destroy a brand and potentially cost millions of dollars from lost sales, the recall execution process, and dealing with brand reputation management in the aftermath. Take High Liner Foods for example. Thier prolonged recalls have led to an estimated loss of nearly $10 million in 2017 alone.
To prevent contamination and the need for recalls, food manufacturing plants should be proactive when it comes to public safety. An initiative can be reached through the implementation of a company-wide voluntary compliance with food inspection and preventative controls that adhere to the standards set by the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). Investing in clean uniforms are one of the most important quality control efforts your plant can make, as is encouraging good hygiene standards. Here are some steps you can take to avoid a Class 1 Recall.
Make sure company uniforms are properly sanitized
Safe food processing starts with your food plant employee uniforms. Make sure your uniform company uses laundering methods that meet Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) with a uniform wash cycle that includes uniform sorting based on soil level, color or material, food industry specialized wash formulas and finishing processes, and poly bag options.
Your food processing uniforms should be hygienically clean and sanitized. Depending on your food manufacturing process, uniforms may include butcher coats, coveralls, jackets, pants, clogs, steel shoes, or boots. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) may include hard hats, hair nets, caps, visors, masks, rubber aprons, rubber gloves, or rubber boots.
Establishing a uniform policy helps with ensuring uniforms are both protective and clean. When creating your policy, ask:
- What uniform garments should employees wear?
- In what order should they put their uniform pieces on?
- When and where should they put their uniforms on?
- How should soiled uniforms be handled?
- How should uniform repair and replacement requests be handled?
Encourage employees to practice good hygiene
Class 1 recalls are most often due to bacterial food contamination and pose the greatest potential to have a negative impact on public health, sometimes causing death by food poisoning. The most common bacterial contamination comes from E.coli, Salmonella, Coliform, and Staphylococcus. The foods most susceptible to bacteria contamination include eggs, milk, chicken, meat, soups, and sauces.
It is imperative for food processing plants to demand quality assurance at all levels of food production, and that starts with their employees. Your uniform policy won’t be effective in keeping your plant sanitary if employees don’t practice good hygiene and take steps to avoid contamination.
Employees can inadvertently contaminate food with poor personal hygiene and the insufficient cleaning of food processing equipment. The key to avoid a Class 1 recall is to set clear standards. Teach employees about the proper reporting procedure for when a contamination does happen. In addition to educating your employees about your uniform policy, be specific on how your employees must label contaminated food, alert management, and follow traceability procedures.
Creating official hand washing procedures and educating your employees about them is crucial. You’ll need to determine:
- What temperature of water should be used?
- What type of soap should be used?
- Where are hand washing stations located?
- After what types of activities should employees wash their hands?
Employees should also be encouraged to keep their hair, skin, and nails clean, as well as to avoid heavy fragrances that can contaminate food.
With the proper food processing uniforms and hygiene policies, you can avoid food recalls
A food recall is the last thing a food processing company wants as the negative impact has an exponential reach. By setting standards and educating your food processing workers, you will be well on your way to meeting food processing regulations and preventing a Class 1 recall.
Clean Rental is the expert in renting and cleaning food processing uniforms. Clean Rental ensures our uniform cleaning and delivery meet your food manufacturing plant’s needs by providing specialty detergents and adhering to your specific handling and temperature washing procedures. Clean Rental’s employees are also routinely trained to ensure your food processing uniforms meet industry standards established by the FDA, USDA, and HACCP.
Contact Clean Rental today for information about food processing uniforms for your food processing, distribution, or manufacturing business.