Food safety, best practices highlight FA&M conference

FA&M 2010 highlights best practices, food safety

Food Engineering’s Food Automation & Manufacturing (FA&M) Conference and Expo provides a platform for food and beverage processors to exchange knowledge with peers on vital issues including manufacturing, operations, sustainability and food safety. Scheduled for April 25 to 28, the conference takes place in Clearwater Beach, FL, and features industry experts who will discuss key issues pertaining to all food and beverage processors. The three-day itinerary is packed with presentations by featured industry speakers and interactive events. Following are conference highlights:

Monday, April 26: Best Practices in Manufacturing and Operational Leadership

  • Keynote speaker, Wade Latz, vice president, global engineering operations, The Hershey Company: “Innovation and Success in Challenging Times.” Latz takes a look at best practices including manufacturing change management, supply chain initiatives and the implications of food industry globalization.
  • Craig Wilson, Costco assistant vice president, food & safety and quality assurance: “What Do Retailers Really Want? Meeting Costco Compliance Requirements.” Wilson presents an outline of key pathogen testing and equipment requirements, recall procedures and compliance issues.
  • Tim Morris, manager, HSE Programs, PepsiCo - Quaker Foods & Snacks, and Jeffrey A. Smagacz, managing partner, Risk Management Group: “Integrating Kaizen Events into the PepsiCo Ergonomics Process.
  • Panel presentation, H.J. Heinz, Kraft Food, Malt-O-Meal, Campbell Soup Company and Summer Garden Food Manufacturing: “Best Practices from Manufacturing Industry Leaders.”
  • Afternoon events include a supplier expo and Solutions Theater, followed by a barbecue dinner on the beach.

Tuesday, April 27: Raising the Bar via Manufacturing Innovation

  • Tuesday morning: Solutions Theater continues
  • Steve Kunkle, Chicago bakery plant manager, Kraft Foods: “Packaging Line Optimization.” Kunkle explores flexibility, throughput and OEE on packaging lines by employing simpler machine operation and training, modular equipment and servo technology, and improving maintenance and packaging materials supplies.
  • John Pierson, principal research engineer, Georgia Tech Research Institute: “‘Sensing’ Manufacturing Innovation in Food Safety.” Pierson discusses the development of food sensors that allow rapid, sensitive and accurate identification of threats to food safety.
  • Plant of the Year Award and Celebration Luncheon: Food Engineering presents this award each year to only one food or beverage plant in North America. This plant exemplifies the latest in design, efficiency, controls, food safety and overall operations.
  • Sarah Finch, director of learning, The Second City Communications and Christopher Miller, founder & CEO, Innovation Focus: “Manufacturing Innovation Meets Improvisation-Go Beyond Business as Usual.” This interactive session will challenge attendees to seek innovative ways to manage and operate their facilities.

Wednesday, April 28: Manufacturing Essentials-Excellence in Sustainability and Food Safety

  • Cheri Chastain, sustainability coordinator, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.; Jeffrey Shuman, engineering director/utilities engineer, Stonyfield Farm; and David Townsend, assistant vice president - environmental affairs, Smithfield Foods: “Sustainability Solutions Roundtable: The Big Picture.” This panel discussion features experts on the topics of sustainable facility layout and design, clean energy, water, biofuels and utility management and provides practical tips on saving energy and money.
  • Dane Bernard, vice president, food safety & quality, Keystone Foods: Resolving Food Safety Issues: Are We Getting Better or Worse?” Bernard will review recent high-profile problems as well as federal, state and local surveillance programs for food-borne illness.
  • Denise Wooldridge, director of sustainability, Kraft Foods: “Addressing Challenging Customer Compliance Needs.” Wooldridge’s presentation will cover how sustainability and food safety practices can make a difference in public perception. She will focus on essential compliance codes and corporate ethical mandates required by customers such as Costco, Wal-Mart and McDonalds.
For more information, visit Food Engineering’s FA&M Web site.

Krafts cuts salt levels

Kraft Foods Inc. plans to reduce sodium by an average of 10% across its North American portfolio over the next two years. This amounts to the elimination of more than 10 million pounds-or more than 750 million teaspoons-of salt from some of Kraft’s most popular North American products.

The company’s goals call for sodium to be lowered by 20% in a number of products by the end of 2012. Oscar Mayer Bologna is slated to reduce sodium by 17%, and some flavors of Easy Mac Cups are scheduled to reduce sodium by 20%.

“We are reducing sodium because it’s good for consumers, and, if done properly, it’s good for business,” says Rhonda Jordan, president, health & wellness, Kraft Foods. “A growing number of consumers are concerned about their sodium intake, and we want to help them translate their intentions into actions.”

Kraft has already been reducing sodium from 5 to 30% in many of its foods. Since 2008:

  • All Oscar Mayer white turkey deli meat products have been reduced by at least 15%;
  • Oscar Mayer Deli Fresh Chicken Breast Strips have been reduced by 20%;
  • Two Kraft Light Dressings have been reduced by more than 30%;
  • Original and Reduced Fat Wheat Thins have been reduced by 10%.

“We are aggressively working toward our goal of a 10% reduction across the Kraft Foods portfolio, which will impact more than 1,000 SKUs, and we’re pushing for greater reductions in the long term,” said Jordan. “We’re constantly looking for and investing in new technologies to help us get there.”

The company also offers lower sodium alternatives to consumers and has more than 100 products that are either low, reduced or no sodium.

Automation News

LoSalt passes over the Checkpoint S-MB checkweigher before going on to the cartoning stage. Under- or over-weight fills can be corrected almost immediately. Source: Avery Weigh-Tronix.

Keeping weight errors low in LoSalt

Klinge Chemicals of Glasgow, Scotland is a manufacturer of food-grade and pharmaceutical potassium chloride (KCl) products. Klinge uses a 2/3 KCl and 1/3 sodium chloride formula to produce LoSalt, a low-sodium alternative to table salt that is available to the retail, catering and industrial food manufacturing markets in 40 countries.

Given the various uses of LoSalt, the product is packaged in 75-, 90-, 250-, 350- and 700-g tubs for retail sale. Industrial food markets generally receive 25- and 50-kg packages, while LoSalt is packaged in 1- and 3-kg sachets for catering markets.

European regulations strictly enforce product weight compliance. To ensure compliance in final product weights, Klinge Chemicals operators were sampling just 0.4% of production output. Every 15 minutes, line operators took 5 tubs off the line and weighed them for accuracy. Necessary adjustments were made to the filling heads based on the sampling results.

During the inspections, when operators found an under-filled tub, the entire batch since the last sampling-as many as 1,250 tubs-had to be checked for weighing compliance. To save time on inspections, it was easier to overfill the tubs.

In addition to inefficient weighing practices, sampling results were handwritten on record sheets, which were then filed with a separate printout for traceability purposes. This slow process made it difficult to identify net weight trends.

After analyzing two years of reports on tub-fill levels, Klinge Chemicals concluded it gave away an average of 56 tons of product annually. The cost of this alone justified the purchase of a new checkweighing system.

The manufacturer installed an Avery Weigh-Tronix in-line checkweigher and average weight monitoring software technologies. The Checkpoint S-MB was integrated into the production line after the filling heads. Using electromagnetic force restoration (EMFR) weigh cells, each tub is weighed automatically after being filled. The weight is then recorded, allowing Klinge to optimize fill levels with 100% product sample of LoSalt tubs produced. EMFR weigh cells are an electronic version of a simple beam scale.

With the new checkweigher and weight monitoring system in place, Klinge saves an estimated 70 pallets of LoSalt each year. The instant data capture in the monitoring system also provides statistics for production and quality control, ensuring that LoSalt tubs are filled with the appropriate amount of product.

“We are completely satisfied with the equipment and the amount of time and money it saves,” said Klinge Chemicals Plant Manager Steve Lockie. “The checkweigher has more than paid for itself.”

The checkweigher technology recognizes up to five weight classes for out-of-tolerance products. If the average weight of the product is too high, the supervisor can adjust the filling head to reduce the amount deposited into each tub. If weights are too low, a ram-pusher mechanism rejects the tubs into a receiving bin for proper disposal. According to Lockie, total rejected tubs due to poor filling are now less than 0.5%.

Current statistical information, status bar and nominal weights are displayed directly on an LCD touch-screen built into the front panel of the checkweigher. Setting and production adjustments are easily made by way of menu-guided operation and navigation icons.

The flexibility of the new system makes it possible for Klinge Chemicals to weigh products in sizes ranging from 0 to 1,500 g, satisfying the varying sizes of LoSalt tubs that are produced.

“The checkweigher can output up to 130 tubs per minute, but we’re consistently running product in the 80 to 90 output range; sometimes reaching up to full capacity,” Lockie said.

For more information, contact: Avery Weigh-Tronix, 507-238-4461,

Original Bagels uses SG Systems’ Vantage formula control and traceability software to keep weights in control and provide FDA traceability. Bottom left: Touch screen terminal connects to weighing terminal and prompts operator for correct addition of ingredients. Bottom right: Once the final product has been cooked and packaged, the finished box count is entered into the system, providing real-time visibility into inventory. Source: SG Systems.

Original Bagel achieves paperless lot traceability

Strategically located 20 miles west of Manhattan in West Caldwell, NJ, Original Bagel Company is one of the leading wholesale bakeries in North America focused exclusively on traditional water-boiled bagels.

Enjoying sales across North America throughout all major channels of distribution, Original Bagel is focused on three primary areas: quality-oriented in-store bakeries, upscale foodservice purveyors and specialty stores. The company is independently inspected and certified Kosher.

All bagels are prepared largely by hand and require a number of different ingredients, which can pose difficulties in keeping track of individual amounts used and correct quantities added to ensure a consistent product. To get a handle on these issues, Original Bagel chose Vantage formula control and traceability software from SG Systems because it felt the supplier has extensive knowledge and experience in the areas of formula control and inventory management.

Original Bagel has realized ingredient savings by installing the system; “We’ve found that it made us become a better company,” says Mark Wolfson, Original Bagel’s director of quality assurance. “We’re more streamlined in how we do things and know if any waste is occurring; previously we weren’t keeping those numbers,” he adds. “Now that we can record those figures, our guys are more aware of what they are doing. With the waste now eliminated, dollars are saved,” concludes Wolfson.

The system installed at Original Bagel provides traceability from receiving ingredients through the production formulation process, which enables complete lot and batch traceability. Along the process are two Vantage touch-screen terminals connected to weighing platforms and label printers, which enable the manufacturing plan to be communicated with the production team. The system has practically eliminated time-consuming, paper-based production and traceability records.

The formula for particular products is entered into the PC server via the recipe formulation management software. The system allows management to enter and determine the exact recipe characteristics, including individual ingredient tolerances and how the products are added.

The system calculates the amounts of individual ingredients needed and downloads the order to the relevant station, providing an easy formulation process, with the large screen prompting the operator throughout as each ingredient is added. The system will not allow the operator to continue if the incorrect ingredient is selected or the wrong amount added. Detailed instructions relating to product characteristics are also flagged to ensure adequate HACCP requirements are met.

Once the final product has been cooked and packaged, the finished box count is entered into the system. The finished product inventory system is then updated to provide real-time visibility of exactly how many boxes have been produced.

The final software module is a customer sales order processing system. This application enables customer-specific orders to be entered into the system, after which the orders are sent to the receiving/shipping terminal for the operator to allocate the inventory.

The end result is a system that can trace an ingredient through the manufacturing process to a finished product. In the event of an ingredient recall, Original Bagels can provide its customers with the assurance that it has 100% visibility of the origin and use of all ingredients.

For more information, Stuart Hunt, SG Systems, 214-819-9570.

Food Safety News

Customer loyalty cards key ingredient of track and trace

There’s no question that customer loyalty cards can be a valuable tool in preventing consumers from eating contaminated foods. According to Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) Food Safety Attorney Sarah Klein, rather than the few retailers who now make use of customer loyalty cards as a track-and-trace tool-such as Costco, Wegmans and Price Chopper-all retailers should use the tool to alert customers when they purchase food products that are later recalled.

A year ago, CSPI called on retailers to begin using their cards to help in the recall process. According to Klein, who cites an AP article discussing how CDC made use of critical information gleaned from the cards, the cards speeded identification of the contaminated salami that sickened nearly 250 people in 44 states, preventing a much bigger outbreak from occurring. This successful outcome, she says, should get other retailers thinking about how they can protect their customers when the next outbreak hits.

The bonus cards swiped at grocery stores can do more than save consumers money and generate powerful marketing databases, says Klein. The cards can help retailers contact consumers via phone or email, warning them not to eat a contaminated product.

Quality standards for food ingredients published

New and updated quality standards for ingredients used in functional foods and a host of other food products manufactured, sold and consumed every day are included in the seventh edition of the Food Chemicals Codex (FCC). Published by the US Pharmacopeial Convention (USP), the FCC is an internationally recognized compendium of standards that helps ensure the identity, quality, purity and consistency of food ingredients.

The latest FCC edition includes standards covering quality and purity for 1,100 food ingredients. These standards include the ingredient’s chemical formula, structure and weight; function and definition; impurity limits; and packaging, storage and labeling information. In addition, FCC Seventh Edition includes validated methods in 11 appendices, with step-by-step guidance to analyze food ingredients and demonstrate their authenticity, quality and purity. The appendices cover enzyme assays, essential oils and flavors, fats and related substances, carbohydrates and flavor chemicals, among others.

New to the seventh edition is a comprehensive section featuring additional information and industry guidances such as general current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMP) guidelines for food chemicals; a comparison of cGMP elements for foods and drugs; and AOAC International/International Organization for Standardization (ISO)/International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) guidelines on method validation.

For more information, visit

3-A licensees need to conform

3-A Sanitary Standards Inc. (3-A SSI) released new information on current 3-A Symbol holders to assist regulatory sanitarians, processors, equipment fabricators and other interested parties. Along with a list of authorized 3-A Symbol licensees for 2010, 3-A SSI posted the first licensee information on a new probationary list.

The probationary list was recently added to disclose information on any licensee that is found in non-conformance, including the company name and the specific type and model of equipment. According to 3-A SSI Executive Director Tim Rugh, “The probationary list is not intended to penalize the licensee, but to help inform all concerned parties that the licensee is addressing specific issues it has acknowledged require correction.” The licensee remains in this status until a plan for corrective action is completed and verified by third-party inspection.

The value of the 3-A Symbol in the marketplace was enhanced by the Third Party Verification (TPV) inspection requirement instituted in 2003 as a requirement for 3-A Symbol authorization. The TPV requirement moved 3-A Symbol authorization away from an era of self-certification. Between 2003 and the end of 2007, approximately 520 TPV inspections were completed for equipment fabricated in the US and 22 other countries around the world, according to 3-A SSI. The inspections must be renewed every five years to maintain 3-A Symbol authorization, whenever equipment non-conformance is found, or if there is a significant change in materials or manufacturing processes.

The public information on 3-A Symbol licensees is important because it shows all equipment that conforms to 3-A Sanitary Standards for dairy and food processing equipment and meets provisions of the 3-A Symbol program. Maintained on the 3-A SSI Web site at, the lists include current and discontinued licensees and the new probationary list. The discontinued symbol holders list shows the reason for discontinuation, such as the equipment is no longer in production, the equipment was consolidated in another 3-A Symbol authorization resulting from a change in company ownership, or the failure of the holder to maintain the authorization in accordance with the terms and conditions for use of the 3-A Symbol.