Food Safety / Columns

Food Safety: Plans for the small business owner

May 1, 2011
KEYWORDS FSMA / HACCP
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There are simple and inexpensive ways to build a program that protects your customers and your business.

One part of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) that has not gotten much attention is the waiver exempting small businesses. While this is a noble sentiment, a small processor has just as much, if not more, of a chance of causing problems as a large company. 

Even if a small processor is not required to establish a food safety management system, the owner would be wise to ensure the safety of the establishment and the foods it produces. Developing food safety programs is a great deal of work and might seem to be an endless and expensive exercise. However, there are simple, inexpensive ways to build a program that protects your customers, your business and your livelihood.

Processors should ensure the ingredients and raw materials used are of high quality. Unfortunately, small processors, such as bakers or cheese makers, do not have the expertise or resources to build a vendor quality program including audits and extensive testing. These processors can, however, ask vendors to supply specifications for all ingredients, as well as certificates of analysis and audits that have been done at the vendor’s facility. The small operator’s cost of this program would be to verify certificates of analysis (COAs) for sensitive ingredients. Also, if the operator is buying produce, it should mandate all growers exercise good agricultural practices (GAPs) and get this commitment in writing.

In addition, small processors should ask all packaging suppliers to provide letters of guaranty that their products are approved for use as food contact packaging and certificates of analysis.

To assure requirements are met (see chart below), owners should take a HACCP class or find a good self-tutorial. Classes provide an opportunity to ask questions and interact with others in the industry. University extension staffs are a great source and can serve as an ongoing reference.

Once a small processor understands the basic principles of HACCP, he or she can begin to implement the program. The complexity and type of programs vary for each operation, but all should include pest management, water quality, personal hygiene for workers, chemical handling and control, glass and brittle plastic, cleaning and sanitation, and preventive maintenance. Only when the prerequisite programs are completed should the company start working on its HACCP plan.

Kosher-certified cleaner

Sunburst Chemicals’ rapidly biodegradable Solid Green 14 all-purpose cleaner, Solid Green 40 pot and pan detergent, Bio Clean multi-purpose germicidal/detergent/disinfectant/sanitizer, Score non-caustic degreaser and Sentry no-rinse quat sanitizer are now certified Kosher year-round, excluding Passover. Each solid capsule yields from 144 up to 1,800 gallons of use-solution, depending on the particular product and concentration used. Solid Green 14 all-purpose is a mild, non-caustic degreaser that safely emulsifies heavy loads of unburned grease and oil from all surfaces, including stainless steel.

Sunburst Chemicals; 800-899-7627; www.sunburstchemicals.com

Hard surface disinfectant

Ecolab’s Virasept ready-to-use hard surface disinfectant is proved to be effective against Clostridium difficile spores. The disinfectant works within 10 minutes of application against Clostridium and in four minutes or less for a broad spectrum of other pathogens including MRSA, VRE, E. coli, Norovirus and others. The formulation is recommended for daily cleaning of high-touch room surfaces.

Ecolab; 800-352-5326; www.ecolab.com

Biofilm drain cleaner

Zep Biofilm Drain Purge cleans organic debris from drains and piping, killing harmful bacteria that cause odors and illness.  The cleaner attacks the biofilm, penetrating and removing it while acting as a bactericide, slimicide and algaecide. 

Zep; 877-428-9937; www.zep.com

Hand sanitizer cleaners

Kutol’s line of hand cleaners combats the bacteria, viruses and fungi that food industry workers face every day. Available in a variety of dispensing systems, the company’s NSF-rated E2, HSC bacteria-controlling hand sanitizer/cleaner is suited especially to meat and poultry industries, and has a USDA rating that helps meet HACCP requirements. A foaming E2 sanitizer cleaner is available for the company’s wall-mounted EZ-Foam dispensers. Both products contain myristalkonium chloride and quaternium-14. Also available are instant hand sanitizers that require no rinsing, and are NSF E3 rated.

Kutol Products Company; 800-543-4641; www.kutol.com

Foam-based cleaning

Diversey’s Enduro Power is a foam-based cleaning solution designed specifically for food manufacturing, dairy and brewery operations. The cleaning product improves penetration of dirt and soil, reducing the need for reapplication. The cleaner’s formula also makes it easier to rinse, reducing total cleaning time, water and energy consumption. The product is safe for use on a wide range of surfaces.

Diversey; 262-631-4001; www.diversey.com/enduropower.

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