Food safety and good manufacturing practices (GMP) are essential to any food manufacturing or food processing operation. Good food safety practices help to prevent the spread of bacteria, viruses, and parasites that can cause foodborne illness. Good manufacturing practices help ensure food products are safe and meet quality standards.
Both of these important principles come into play at every stage of a food product’s life cycle. You also need to be diligent about keeping your equipment clean and sanitary. Read on to learn more about what good food safety practices and GMPs look like in a safe food production facility like Current Commodity Systems, which is an SQF-Certified facility.
SQF-Certified Food Facilities
The first step in producing safe and high-quality food items is to make sure your food production facility and the employees who work there meet strict food safety standards.
If you’re making any type of food product, be sure to choose a food manufacturer that has been audited and certified by an independent third-party auditor. The food safety audit will include an inspection of your facility’s cleanliness, food safety programs, food safety management systems, and record keeping. The auditor will also review your staff’s food safety training and hygiene practices.
NSF International is one of the most recognized third-party auditors of food safety and hygiene standards in the world. They provide third-party certifications for food and beverage processing and manufacturing facilities.
NSF International’s food safety standards are recognized by the FDA and are used to help food facilities meet health and safety regulations. If your food facility is NSF certified, you can be sure it meets high standards for food safety and good manufacturing practices.
NSF also offers a variety of other certifications, including SQF. SQF is widely considered to be one of the most important certifications for facilities to have. It involves strict standards that must be assessed by an independent third party. If you work with a facility that is SQF-certified, you can rest assured that it is a good facility to work with.
Sanitation and Cleaning
In food safety, sanitization and cleaning are some of the most important and basic qualities that any facility should focus on. The cleanliness of the employees and the tools used to make food plays a major role in preventing illnesses. To that end, many facilities focus on basic standards such as:
Anyone that comes into contact with production materials must wash their hands regularly. That way, they cannot transfer anything to the work surfaces or food. Hand contamination is one of the fastest ways to spread contaminants in any situation, which is why it is so important to keep your hands clean.
Appropriate Sanitizing Solutions
When sanitizing solutions are used, they are food-grade, approved for use on food equipment, and have been properly diluted according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Sanitizing all equipment that comes in contact with food, as well as work surfaces and floors, can stop the spread of microorganisms that can cause foodborne illnesses.
Equipment should be sanitized between uses to minimize the chance of spreading contaminants.
To ensure that equipment is in good condition and ready for use, your facility should inspect and clean all food-related equipment on a daily basis and thoroughly clean that equipment every 2 to 4 hours during active production. They should also clean food-related equipment that has come into contact with raw meat, fish, or eggs before using it to process ready-to-eat foods. Make sure they clean any surfaces or equipment that might have come into contact with water that was used to clean other areas of the facility.
Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs)
Good manufacturing practices make sure that your food product is safe and high-quality.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines GMPs as “a combination of standard operating procedures, inspection and monitoring by trained personnel, and appropriate hazard analysis.” GMPs are designed to ensure that your food product is safe to eat, free of contamination, and meets all quality and regulatory standards.
Each food production facility is unique and customized, so each food production facility will have a different set of GMPs. You should consult a food safety expert or a qualified food microbiologist to help you develop your customized GMPs and other food safety policies. The type of food that you produce and your facility’s resources and capabilities will influence the GMPs and other food safety policies that you choose. Be sure to include your quality assurance protocols and processes as part of your GMPs.
Storage and Transportation of Ingredients
If your product is a perishable food item, be sure to refrigerate the ingredients and the finished product right away. If your product is a non-perishable food item, make sure ingredients are stored properly in a dry and clean environment away from any potential contaminants.
Protect food products and ingredients from contamination by keeping them away from pets and pests. Keep food-related equipment clean and covered to prevent dust and contaminants from getting inside.
Make sure food is stored in an appropriate container that’s clean and dry and has a lid to prevent contaminants from getting inside. Wash all food-related equipment thoroughly before you use it. Be sure that food products are transported in a way that keeps them fresh, free from contamination, and protected from temperature fluctuations.
Processing and Manufacturing of Food
Food production facilities need to adhere to strict food safety protocols at every step of the food production process. Make sure that proper equipment is being used for each stage of the process and that each piece is clean and sanitary. Keep raw ingredients separate from ready-to-eat ingredients, and thoroughly clean any shared equipment and surfaces before moving on to the next stage of the process. Make sure they’re following the correct temperature and time parameters for each stage of the manufacturing process. Keep a watchful eye out for any signs of contamination, mold, or pathogens.
Choose the Right Facility for the Best Results
The facility that you choose to co-pack or manufacture your food makes a big difference in quality and safety. Choose a company like Current Commodity Systems, which is already SQF-certified. Call us at (805) 278-0136 to discuss your food production needs.