Sunday, December 10, 2017

Shared Values Are The Foundation For A Culture Of Food Safety


To create a food safety culture in any organization, there first must be understanding of what this means.

I frequently discuss the importance of having a food safety culture with operators of a variety types of companies, and they all tell me the same thing: "my company has a great food safety culture." But when I ask what that means, their answers are not as confident.

So, how do you build a good food safety culture and make sure your employees embrace it? Understanding the value of food safety is where it begins. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 1 in 6 Americans contract a foodborne illness each year.

When food safety policies and procedures are created, correctly implemented, and instilled as part of a business culture, mistakes that can lead to foodborne illnesses are significantly reduced.

As a result, in addition to boosting food safety, profit increases, employee morale soars, employee turnover is reduced, absenteeism is minimized, and the company's reputation remains secure. If food safety is neglected, food contamination can cause outbreaks, which not only critically damage a company's reputation, but can also result in criminal negligence lawsuits and bankruptcy.

A food safety program that works for one organization may not work for another. It is necessary to find what works best for each organization, and then be committed to continuously reviewing the processes, evaluating them based on feedback and measurable results from team members and, when necessary, making changes.

If possible, company leaders should create a food safety team to collect data that can be used to analyze results. Use key performance indicators to study what is happening within your company - this is how you will determine what, where, and when changes need to be made.

Using feedback and data, a culture of food safety can be built on a set of shared values that management and employees follow to produce food in the safest manner. Establishing and maintaining a food safety culture means that management and employees recognize the risks linked with the products or meals they produce, understand why controlling the risks is important, and successfully manage those risks in an evident way.

In an organization with a good food safety culture, employees are expected to enact practices that represent the shared value system and point out where others may fail. By using a variety of tools, consequences and incentives, corporations can show their staff and customers that they are aware of current food safety concerns, that they can learn from others' mistakes, and that food safety is important within their organization.

A few weeks ago, my husband and I were eating at a restaurant that is part of a large organization. I am certain this company would say they have a good food safety culture. Yet as we were eating in the dining room, I observed the cook eating food and drinking a beverage with her single use gloves on while preparing food for customers. She didn't wash her hands or change her gloves the entire time we were there!

Such behavior has the potential to cause a foodborne illness outbreak. Clearly, somewhere in the company there was a breakdown in the value system, and this employee wasn't following proper food safety protocols.

While there are many exceptional operations that have great food safety cultures, I have walked into establishments on many occasions to conduct health inspections or third-party inspections only to see employees and management tripping over each other to fill buckets of sanitizer, put on aprons, date product, etc., because they knew an inspector was in the building.

Building a food safety culture involves activities that go beyond grabbing a broom and sweeping up dirt.

When I see employees scrambling to "catch up" on the food safety protocols because I'm visiting and inspecting their facility, I know - and they know - that they have been neglecting tasks that they should have been doing on a regular basis. Witnessing them scramble indicates that these people do not take food safety seriously. In a company with a good food safety culture, the standards are the same every day, regardless of whether there is an executive or a health inspector visiting. Because the health of your customers and the reputation of your company are, ultimately, your biggest concerns.

As you are creating and implementing your food safety plan, some important items to remember are:

  • make training fun
  • lead by example
  • explain why
  • follow up
  • use job aids

Creating a food safety culture takes more than discussing it at an occasional staff meeting or industry conference. It takes commitment by every level of management and staff, every second of every day. And when you have that level of commitment, employees will be more inclined to take their jobs seriously and less likely to take chances that put the company at risk.

Article Source: http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2017/09/shared-values-are-the-foundation-for-a-culture-of-food-safety/#.WiSimEqnHIV

Thursday, December 7, 2017

2018 Classes Open For Registration


Current 2018 Classes

SQF Food Safety Code For Manufacturing Edition 8

GFSI Internal & External Audit Workshop

FSPCA Preventive Controls For Human Food

SQF 8 Quality Systems For Food Manufacturers

Monday, December 4, 2017

How To Implement An Effective Food Safety Program


Oscar Camacho with Superior Food Safety gives a brief description of how to implement an effective food safety program into your organization. See more at http://www.superiorfoodsafety.com

Friday, December 1, 2017

5 Burning Questions About The Rise In Foodborne Illness


The food industry has been one of the most celebrated and fastest-growing industries over the last decade or so. Which is no surprise, considering how much food is now being consumed, or posted on Instagram, on a daily basis. Pop-up food carts and hole-in-the-wall food places have been a huge hit too and even inspired a number of Hollywood films about the tough competition and revolutionary marketing tactics that have taken over the food industry (see: Jon Favreau’s Chef and Bradley Cooper’s Burnt). It’s good times, for sure. Well, for the most part, I mean.

When did foodborne illness become a major concern in the US?
Unfortunately, it’s not just the revenue that’s on the rise, because food borne illnesses too are making the headlines as of late. Talk about spoiling (no pun intended) the fun, eh? Well, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia, the number of foodborne disease outbreaks resulting from imported foods increased during surveillance years 2005 to 2010.

Where are the numbers coming from?
Dr. L. Hannah Gould, Ph.D., a senior epidemiologist at the CDC, revealed those findings during an oral presentation here at the International Conference on Emerging Infectious Diseases in 2012. According to the CDC, 39 foodborne disease outbreaks were reported in which the implicated food had been imported into the United States. These outbreaks resulted in 2348 illnesses, 434 hospitalizations and 3 deaths.

How many are affected?
Though foodborne illnesses are often never formally reported, about 48 million Americans, or one in six, get sick each year from food, the CDC estimates, with 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths. In fact, in 2014, 19,542 cases of infection were traced from 15% of the US population being surveyed by CDC.

Why is it on the rise?
The culprits? Chances are, you’ve been storing them somewhere inside your establishment: packaged caramel-coated apples, frozen ice cream sandwiches, fresh peaches and nectarines, frozen meet, etc. Not exactly the answers you were expecting, perhaps?

According to experts, the growing popularity of packaged foods such as pre-cut fruit and prepared sandwiches has heightened the risk of spreading foodborne illnesses. Furthermore, they have identified that contamination can occur between preparation and packaging, or in high-tech processing plants, after heating to destroy harmful bacteria and before packaging. Which means, somewhere in the last decade, we lost our way (or something like that).

What can we do to stop foodborne disease from spreading?
The whole fiasco regarding foodborne illness is a public safety concern and must be addressed by everyone. However, while adjusting individually may not be a problem for most of us, the same cannot be said for food places and restaurants. Just imagine the public relations horror for restaurant managers if any of their customers get sick while dining at their place?

Restaurants must be more strict and thorough when addressing food safety concerns. The entire crew must be trained when it comes to food handling and a food safety manager must also take charge in overseeing procedures in the kitchen. In fact, proper storage and disposal must also be adequately done at all times. With those safety measures in play, establishments will be able to showcase their commitment to adhere with local food standards and basic food handling procedures. That’s a step in the right direction, for sure.

Summing up, foodborne illness is definitely a manageable concern and will likely not become a factor that will hinder the overall growth of the food industry. However, the fact that it can be controlled and yet still recurring means that there’s still a fair amount of work needed to be done to improve the industry in other aspects—and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing (at least not yet).

Article Source: https://foodsafetytech.com/news_article/5-burning-questions-rise-foodborne-illness/

Monday, November 27, 2017

Open Position: Quality Assurance Coordinator


One of our clients is looking for a QA Coordinator for their Site in Atlanta area (Griffin, GA). If interested please send your resume in LinkedIn:

Position/ Job Title: Quality Assurance Coordinator

Department: Quality Assurance

Status: Non-Exempt, Hourly

Shift: 6:30 am – 3:30 pm

Immediate Supervisor: Plant Manager, FSQA Manager

Positions Supervise: Blending, Brewing, Filling, Packaging

JOB SUMMARY

  • The Quality Assurance Coordinator ensures that day to day production meets the established standards of quality and food safety. The position is responsible for monitoring and maintaining key indicators of product quality and safety through inspection, testing and communication.
  • The Quality Assurance Coordinator guarantees the operations and procedures on the plant floor meet and align with corporate quality policy. This includes maintenance of the SQF and quality programs, HACCP, allergen control, ingredient control, cGMP’s, document control, traceability, product quality reviews, and corrective/preventative action.

The Quality Assurance Coordinator is responsible for notifying any deviations in quality processes to personnel-in-charge in manufacturing assembly and responsible for reporting compliance and all deviations to the Plant Manager and FSQA Manager.

If this opening is of your interest, please submit your resume via LinkedIn or write an e-mail at info@superiorfoodsafety.com subject: QA Coordinator – Atlanta Area

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Training in English and Spanish


Classes Available in English & Spanish and Consulting Services

WE OFFER PUBLIC AND ON-SITE TRAINING CLASSES:
  • HACCP Workshop
  • Implementing SQF Training - Version 8.0 - English and Spanish
  • FSMA Preventive Controls for Human Foods
  • FSPCA For Human Food Compliance
  • Produce Safety Rule Training Official Program
  • SQF Quality Systems For Food Manufacturers
  • Internal and External GFSI Audits
  • Crisis Management
  • Gluten Free Certification Program
  • SQF Advance Practitioner Course
  • Prerequisite Programs

WE ALSO OFFER:

  • Food Safety Consulting Services

Please visit our website or send us an email for more information!

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Monday, November 20, 2017

Superior Food Safety Testimonials


Superior Food Safety is based in Napa, CA and provides US and Latin American businesses with consulting and training for certification, implementation, management, and maintenance of FSMA and GFSI food safety and quality systems. Customized training is available to clients worldwide and all courses can be delivered in English or Spanish.

Testimonials:

Our plant received a 99 score on our first SQF audit thanks to Oscar Camacho’s training, support and extensive knowledge of food safety. Oscar’s Superior Food Safety team were encouraging and kept us focused and on task when the process seemed daunting. We have a better functioning Food Safety system and a better business as a result of Oscar's involvement.

Mary H. Johnson
SR. Vice President
TRANSMAR GROUP / Cocoa Services West

After attending the Safe Quality Food training with Oscar Camacho, our company has the necessary tools to implement a successful food safety system with a common sense approach. Our goal is now clear and attainable.

Cindy Sment, Controller
Young Guns Produce

Oscar was very detailed in his training sessions for implementing SQF as well as in the training for our HACCP Team and internal auditors. Without his superior knowledge, direction, expertise and encouragement, it would have been impossible to reach our goal of becoming certified.

Kevin Oliphant
Food Safety Manager – Advanced SQFP Professional Produce Inc.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Training Classes At Your Location


Classes Available in English & Spanish and Consulting Services

WE OFFER PUBLIC AND ON-SITE TRAINING CLASSES:
  • HACCP Workshop
  • Implementing SQF Training - Version 8.0 - English and Spanish
  • FSMA Preventive Controls for Human Foods
  • FSPCA For Human Food Compliance
  • Produce Safety Rule Training Official Program
  • SQF Quality Systems For Food Manufacturers
  • Internal and External GFSI Audits
  • Crisis Management
  • Gluten Free Certification Program
  • SQF Advance Practitioner Course
  • Prerequisite Programs

WE ALSO OFFER:

  • Food Safety Consulting Services

Please visit our website or send us an email for more information!

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Superior Food Safety at the SQF Conference


Superior Food Safety is at the SQF conference in Dallas, Texas. We represent Gluten Free Certification program on the west coast.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Congratulations To Marukan Vinegar USA


Congratulations to our client Marukan Vinegar USA on the Grand Opening of the new plant located in Griffin, GA. Oscar Camacho with The President of the company Jon Tanklage.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

The Top 6 Benefits of On-Site Training


On-site training is becoming more and more of a necessity for organizations around the world, specialized training in accordance with the organization's needs helps teams become more productive and innovative. On-site training has also grown from just training employees in a specific location to training employees globally via online training which reduces cost and allows multiple branches of the organization to learn together.

1. Location
The biggest advantage of on-site training is the location. With the training done on the company's premises, employees save valuable time, which otherwise would have been lost on commuting from another location to the trainer. On-site training also allows the organisation to be free to make last minute changes and make additional changes to who might or might not be helpful to include into the training, for example an operations manager who could share a few experiences with the class or an up-and-coming executive who might be willing to sit in the next available training program

2. Privacy
Delicate organizational data can be shared by members and utilized as solid illustrations amid intuitive and confidential workshop sessions in complete confidence. Upper-management may train specific mid-leveled executives on the internal workings of the organization.

3. Tailored Program Content
Organizations have the ability to tailor each and every aspect of the training process as well as customize the lessons according to the company's own policies. Guiding employees on which area's the organization would like them to focus on for a specific time period or financial year.

4. Boosts employee productivity and profits
Employees are able to build new skills, develop existing skill sets, and gather new knowledge about products and services that will boost their on-the-job productivity. Given that most training programs from universities and training institutes are quite time consuming and expensive on individual based training. With on-site training employees do not have to time out of the office and instead clock back to work as soon as the training is complete and since they are based on group lessons, the cost for such training is significantly reduced.

5. Employees have access to training that work around their schedule
With on-site training, training can be scheduled to the organization's needs and learning and development professionals can plan training to suit their own employees rather than the usual classroom style of universities which have a specified schedules that often clash with work hours.

6. Keeps employees up to date on current company protocols
While many employees are offered entrance training when they first join an association, continuing onsite training offers them the capacity to further build up their aptitudes and extend their expert learning. Since company processes are constantly evolving, it's critical that representatives are offered access to new training and stay up-to-date. On-site training gives professionals the opportunity to grow their abilities or find out about new subjects inside of their specialty so as to stay competent and innovative with industry trends or new insights that may give them an advantage at work.

Article Source: https://www.findcourses.com/prof-dev/l-d-articles/top-6-benefits-of-onsite-training-9873

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Five Tips to Add Food Fraud Prevention To Your Food Defense Program


With the rising awareness of food fraud prevention and control regulated by FSMA and GFSI schemes, these 5 tips will help your compliance and enhance your current food defense program.

Food defense is the protection of food products from intentional contamination or adulteration, as well as biological, chemical, physical or radiological agents. It addresses additional concerns including physical, personnel and operational security. A traditional food defense program is generally perceived as a program that includes site security, visitors control or even on-site personnel monitoring. However, with the new FSMA Preventive Controls Rules and GFSI Guidance for all the recognized schemes, additional to consumer demand on product transparency, we must now take food fraud into consideration within our food defense program.

What is food fraud? According to the study from Michigan State University, food fraud is a collective term used to encompass the deliberate and intentional substitution, addition, tampering or misrepresentation of food, food ingredients or food packaging, or false misleading statements made about a product, for economic gain. It becomes not just a potential for food safety issues, but also a severe issue that could potentially damage your brand reputation. It is hence critical to have appropriate protection and prevention, as the umbrella encompasses both food defense and food safety.

What does this mean to food manufacturers? The awareness of traceability and transparency certainly should rise. Most facilities should have a food defense program in place to comply with any GMP or GFSI requirements. To make it more competent for food fraud, what could we do? Here are some quick tips to strengthen your food defense program with food fraud prevention:

  • Tip 1: Review your entire supply chain one more time, considering fraud risks
  • Tip 2: Use the HACCP concept for food fraud risk analysis
  • Tip 3: Double-check incoming goods
  • Tip 4: Make the entire supply chain transparent
  • Tip 5: Document all records

Tip 1: Review your entire supply chain one more time, considering fraud risks
The unknown could potentially hurt you or your program. You would prefer to be aware of what might go wrong before it goes wrong, which is why a review should be one of the key steps in your food safety program. It might be a familiar terminology in the industry; however, we could not eliminate its importance to your entire food safety management system. To maintain product authenticity, understanding where your ingredients come from and who your business partners and suppliers are become the first step to success. It also gives you an excellent opportunity to analyze the risks and potential risk sources. A thorough review should include all the approved suppliers and vendor information. Knowing the source of your product provides you with a good foundation for your food defense program. How can we efficiently review our own supply chain?

  • List all approved suppliers and contract vendors
  • Make sure all ingredients are used accordingly and as intended
  • Keep the supplier registration list up to date

The more you understand your own supply chain, the more helpful it will be to your food defense program.

Tip 2: Use HACCP concept for food fraud risk analysis within supply chain
Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP), as defined by FDA, is a management system in which food safety is ensured by addressing through the analysis and control of biological, chemical and physical hazards throughout the entire supply chain. This mentality of HACCP could be used and very helpful to analyze the potential fraud risks. Its seven principles and 12 steps could be implemented to identify your own fraud risks. And it is important for us to identify the hazards from potentially adulterated ingredients to determine the next step for what needs to be controlled. Utilizing the 12 steps, we can list all the key points and steps that could potentially impact your products’ authenticity. The risks can come from personnel, visitors or the ingredients themselves. There are many resources out there; for example, US Pharmacopeia (USP) has developed a global food fraud database that is a good resource for all ingredients that have been falsely used in food products.

Tip 3: Double-check incoming goods
Many articles address the importance of vulnerability assessments to prevent food fraud plus any documentation your suppliers have provided. Yes, it is critical; however, as one of the important steps in the HACCP program, verification is also important to make sure what goes into your finished products is safe and guaranteed. This could be addressed and monitored by implementing genetic testing. Each product and ingredient has its own DNA, just like our fingerprints. Nowadays, there are many methodologies developed for this type of test. The DNA testing could be a helpful tool to help your facility verify the authenticity of your incoming raw materials. Genetic testing using techniques like polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technology to detect the DNA of the product upon receiving the incoming goods. Moreover, as fast as it can be, facilities can now receive the test results within one to two hours. The testing itself might seem like an extra step with more effort and labor. However, the return is a huge saving on damages caused by food fraud. You can now start to verify and control your supply chain from the beginning to avoid any potential adulteration.

Tip 4: Make the entire supply chain transparent
This transparency not only applies to internal employees but also outward to your customers and vendors. That way you can familiarize yourself with your own supply chain, while at the same time establish brand reputation and confidence to your customers.

Tip 5: Keep all records documented
The records you should keep, besides a registration list of all your ingredients and vendors, should include the inventory list, how ingredients are used, whether it is used outside of its intended use and authorized personnel signatures. The following are some tips for an efficient document control:

  • Make it clear and straightforward
  • Categorize it based on your own facility operations
  • Keep the records in the same order of your supply chain from ingredients to end consumers

After all, with the newly released requirements, as QA professionals, we need to start developing a mindset that considers food fraud as a type of hazard, and develop monitor and control strategies for mitigating it. Just like we are now so familiar with the physical, chemical and biological hazards within our production facilities compared to decades ago, food fraud will no longer be a scary term once it is proficiently understood and properly controlled.

Article Source: https://foodsafetytech.com/column/five-tips-add-food-fraud-prevention-food-defense-program/

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Final Available Class for 2017


GFCP Gluten Free Certification Program
November 6th, 2017 Dallas, TX


GFCP (GLUTEN FREE CERTIFICATION PROGRAM) TRAINING FOR AUDITORS AND CONSULTANTS

SQFI in conjunction with the Allergen Control Group (ACG) is pleased to provide an opportunity for interested auditors to achieve approved auditor certification at the SQF Conference

The Gluten-Free Certification Program (GFCP) is a management system and facility certification used by ingredient and processing manufacturers to demonstrate their commitment to the implementation of responsible practices, related to the safe and reliable production of gluten-free foods.

GFCP is endorsed by the Beyond Celiac (formerly the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness) in the USA and the Canadian Celiac Association. GFCP standard is an incremental core set of fundamental operating requirements that provide a facility with the preventative gluten management systems needed to demonstrate a commitment to gluten controls and social compliance. Successfully, implementing these requirements ensures the facility have the tools in place to meet or exceed regulatory outcomes and avoid dependency on random end-product testing.

Course Description:
The objective of this course is to provide the food industry and internal auditors with the knowledge about the ANAB Accredited Gluten-Free Certification Program, Standard Policies and Procedures, as a necessary step for a facility to successfully complete a third-party audit. The course is based on the auditing methodology documented in ISO 17021 and the technical skills necessary to train and implement the GFCP standards. A Certificate of Attendance will be issued indicating the participant has completed GFCP Industry Training as one of the competencies recommended to acquire a GFCP Certificate of Recognition for the facility and or becoming an approved GFCP auditor. Retailers, consultants and supplier organizations are also welcome to attend this training, to learn about the GFCP Standard and how the auditor will audit in the standard.

Pre-Requisites:
Although there are no set requirements to sit for this course, there are specific pre-requisite competencies in order to become a certified GFCP approved auditor.

The goals of this one-day course are:
Gain a clear understanding of the GFCP standard.
Comprehend the requirements to be an approved GFCP internal or third-party Auditor
Learn the GFCP Standard Certification Assessment Requirements

Instructors:
Oscar Camacho, President Superior Food Safety Inc., SQF License Training Center & SQF Certified Consultant – High Risk and SQF Certified Trainer
Paul Valder, President, Allergen Control Group Inc.

Date: Monday, November 6, 2017
Time: 7:00 am – 5:00 pm
Cost: USD $375.00 per person (includes course materials and lunch)

Monday, October 30, 2017

Today’s Inspection and Audit Reality: The New Normal


Industry’s “new reality” for inspection and audit readiness pivots on evolving its programs based on the expectations of today’s – and tomorrow’s – inspectors, auditors and customers alike.

Food industry inspection and audit protocols are evolving at a rapid pace, and rightly so. This is not surprising given today’s regulatory, audit and ever-changing risk landscapes, which are driving further complexity and expansion of requirements to ensure the industry is, “audit ready, all the time.”

This evolution of inspections and audits has been primarily triggered by newer regulations such as FSMA and private standards, such as GFSI and its certification programme owners (CPO’s, fka Scheme Owners) like SQF, BRC, FSSC 22000, IFS, etc. Heightened customer demand and consumer visibility into food safety incidents –many thanks to mainstream and social media– and the resulting increased demand for information has also fueled this evolution, compelling industry to focus on higher levels of transparency, both internally and throughout the supply chain.

The changes above are driving the food industry to face a new reality. One where the following questions continue to rise to the surface:

  • How have “yesterday’s” inspection and audit expectations changed from what companies are experiencing today?
  • Based on this evolution, how will “tomorrow’s” inspection and audit expectations change?
  • In short, what does the new reality or the “new normal” look like now for inspection and audit readiness?

We will take a look at what some of the first inspections are shaping up to look like under the Preventive Controls for Human Food (PCHF) Rule and the Foreign Supplier Verification Program (FSVP) Rule. Some common themes and some tips to successfully manage regulatory inspections as well as audit readiness tips are set forth below.

More Inspectors
Roll out the welcome mat because more inspectors are coming to the party. We are seeing an average of three to upwards of six regulatory inspectors performing the inspections under the PCHF rule. This may cause an initial shock wave but when you stop to consider the rationale it has a certain level of reasonableness to it. Industry has invested in its personnel for nearly two years in updated training to meet new FSMA regulations such as preventive controls qualified individual (PCQI) training, updated current GMP training and perhaps qualified auditor training, if applicable. It makes sense that FDA needs to make a similar investment in its people to ensure its inspectors are prepared to knowledgeably perform FSMA-related inspections.

FDA has implemented a robust training program for its inspectors. Regarding PCHF inspections for example, only inspectors who have successfully completed the PCQI training plus FDA’s internal training will lead other inspectors through the facility inspections as an in-field training exercise. So, the good news is at least one inspector is fully trained under FDA’s training program standards. This said, with more inspectors, there are more eyes, and with more eyes, more opportunities to see risk through different perspectives. It’s best to be on your game, with a tested playbook so you have confidence you are prepared when the team of inspectors arrive at your facility. Conduct a mock inspection against your policies, procedures and food safety plan that have been updated for the new PCHF and other applicable FSMA requirements. You will be thankful you did.

Digging Deeper
Into Records: FSMA and the seven rules that comprise it requires more controls, monitoring and verification activities by the food industry, thus naturally giving inspectors more records to access and review. Further, FDA received expanded records access authority upon the signing of FSMA. FSMA allows FDA to access records relating to articles of food for which there is a reasonable probability that the use of, or exposure to, the article of food will cause serious adverse health consequences or death to humans or animals. Before FSMA the standard FDA had to meet to access records was “credible evidence”; now its “reasonable probability”—a standard that is far lower and subjective—allowing access to more types of records than before. Another new addition is FDA now may access records beyond those relating to the specific suspect food if the agency reasonably believes that other food articles are likely to be affected in a similar manner.

Example: If you have a potential problem on production line 1, and you firmly believe the issue is contained to line 1, but that line is in even arguably close physical proximity to line 2, depending on the issue an inspector may invoke this new authority and ask for all records associated with line 2 in addition to line 1 for the same time period to be sure that the situation indeed did not spread or otherwise impact line 2. (e.g. confirm no risk for cross contamination or allergen cross-contact).

This should not mean it’s open season on all your records, but it certainly means more records are open to review and scrutiny, so having a robust record retention and management system becomes mission-critical. How sound is yours? Record-keeping and document management have long been important to GFSI / CPO’s. However, many food companies do not have a certification from one of these entities, which begs the question whether the scope of your third-party audit, or that of a supplier you are currently evaluating for approval, adequately evaluates this important area.

Into your Hazard Analysis: Inspectors are spending significant time reviewing the adequacy of the hazard analysis performed as part of the requirement of the food safety plan under the PCHF Rule and as part of the foreign supplier verification plan requirement under the FSVP rule. If facilities do not identify all the hazards of concern that require a preventive control associated with their facility and foods they produce, then the rest of the food safety plan falls apart. If you work with peanuts to produce peanut butter and identify Salmonella as a hazard requiring a preventive control but not aflatoxin or peanut allergen you have likely missed the mark.You may not have the appropriate preventive controls, monitoring, verification activities, validations and corrective actions identified in your hazard analysis and food safety plan to control for the most significant hazards your facility / the finished food is facing from a food safety risk perspective. (note the identification of hazards requiring preventive controls is highly dependent on the food, facility, processing methods of the manufacturer, upstream supplier and will vary if products are RTE or nRTE)

How are auditors tackling this issue? Many third-party audit firms have invested in providing PCQI training for its auditors so they are better prepared to evaluate the sufficiency or gaps in the hazard analysis. It is a good idea to ask your audit firm what updated skills and training have been given to its auditors to ensure you are getting the assistance you need.

Lasting Longer:
It makes a certain amount of sense that inspections would take longer to conduct and complete since there are more inspectors accessing and reviewing more records than pre-FSMA.§117.190 of the PCHF Rule alone contains a laundry list of implementation records required to meet only the risk-based preventive controls requirements of subpart C (the food safety plan requirements). These records include:

  • Documentation identifying the hazards requiring one or more preventive controls
  • Documentation for not establishing a preventive control
  • Records that document monitoring preventive controls
  • Records that document corrective actions
  • Records that document verification, as applicable, including:
  • Validation
  • Verification of monitoring
  • Verification of corrective actions
  • Calibration of process monitoring and verification instruments
  • Product testing
  • Environmental monitoring
  • Records review
  • Reanalysis
  • Records that document the supply chain program
  • Records that document training for PCQI and the qualified auditor

There are other record requirements relating to other sections of this rule, (e.g. if a facility meets Modified Requirements or Qualified Facility requirements, and subpart F relating to how records must be kept, who must sign, how long they must be retained, etc.).

Needless to say by reviewing the above list, record and document management will be key in today and tomorrow’s inspection and audit reality, in order to produce requested documents quickly, accurately and in compliance with regulations and customer expectations (lets not forget the 24 hour reporting requirement of the Reportable Food Registry (RFR) and increasing contractual requirements by customers, particularly in private label situations, where 2-4 hours is the “new normal” to report to a private label customer if a co-manufacturing facility may have a suspect or actual food safety incident at hand). For those still on manual/paper-based systems, now may be the time to consider technology as a means for managing risk.

Leveraging Technology:
Even the FDA is embracing technology folks (and no, this isn’t meant to be a slam, but rather a statement of fact). Case in point, although the first inspections are being conducted onsite for training purposes, inspections under the FSVP (Foreign Supplier Verification Rule) are intended to move to virtual inspections where relevant documents subject to inspection are requested via email by FDA and transmitted electronically from the FSVP food importer. Another example is the RFR, which requires the reporting of a “reportable food” to an online portal within 24 hours upon meeting certain criteria. If the government can embrace technology why does industry seem a bit slow to the party?

Some companies have done a stellar job of embracing this 21st century technological evolution, or as some may describe, revolution, in which we now live and work. Others, I am sorry to report, are woefully behind in leveraging technology to manage risk. GFSI recently released its new version 7.1 with new and modified standards. For example, V7.1 adds a couple of new clauses for each scope under Food Safety Management Requirements, such as purchasing from non-approved suppliers. The ripple effect is the CPO’s are in turn updating and releasing new versions of their own respective private standards. Layer on FSMA and the seven new rules that comprise it, which includes expanded records access authority by the agency, and companies are facing an exponential increase in the number of records to manage.

Simply put, it is becoming progressively more difficult to manage all required records and documentation in a paper-based system. As a result, more companies are evaluating software systems that can help manage key supply chain, production, traceability and distribution data so they can put their finger on the pulse of information when auditors and inspectors request information. Wise choice.

Not only should an electronic document management system help with speed to identify and access documents -it should also help with data trending (to the extent applicable). For example, if you are storing PC/CCP monitoring data on oven cooking temperatures, can the electronic system track and trend the data captured so that it can alert designated users when a PC/CCP goes out of limits? The best systems can, and the best-in-class companies are finding ways to reduce the human error factor by leveraging technology to better manage their risks and transforming the data into information through dashboards and trending reports so they can see where deviations or near misses may be arising. Yes, technology involves a capex request. But the ROI is almost always cheaper than a recall and certainly is less costly than the brand reputation damage that could result.

Considering Culture:
How strong is your food safety culture? How polished are your internal team’s “soft skills?” Be prepared to jump on the collaboration train with FDA—the paradigm is shifting from FDA acting as the “police” to becoming a “partner”. Specifically, FDA is taking initiative to learn more about food safety culture- a topic growing in importance to industry and one FDA historically had not fully understood or placed inspection metrics around. Public-private partnerships have formed including conference calls with FDA and industry to learn more about how industry is assessing and implementing food safety culture, as well as discussions with CPO’s to understand how these private standards are measuring this emerging topic. The net takeaway is that FDA is now looking at and assessing your food safety culture.

How is it being used? Food safety culture is factored into the scope of preventive controls inspections, according to Joann Givens, deputy regional food and drug director with the FDA, during a speech given at the Process Expo conference in September 2017. Further, Givens says regulators are receiving soft skills training to better interact with industry to create a spirit of collaboration and partnership. This level of training investment at the agency level clearly conveys the importance of providing the same type of training to industry– to ensure that we aren’t the ones with the poor “bedside” manner and poor interpersonal skills when FDA shows up on our doorsteps, and to ensure we are continuously striving to mature our food safety cultures.

Final Thoughts:
The “new reality” is that industry’s preparation for inspections and audits needs to evolve based on the expectations of today’s – and tomorrow’s – inspectors, auditors and customers alike. FDA is learning along-side industry during this first year or so of PCHF and FSVP inspections. Some may be skeptical of the FDA mantra “educate before and while we regulate”. However, it does appear through some of the first inspections that this is truly a mantra that is being embraced by the agency, and as such, industry is encouraged to work collaboratively and openly with the agency in this spirit of learning and collective mission of protecting public health and safety. It is a unique time of evolution and transformation in the food industry. Every player in the supply chain must find ways to transform to a new reality wherever they may be in the supply chain, and define a new normal to keep up with this evolution, or risk the cruel reality of being left behind as a memory of yesterday.

Article Source: https://foodsafetytech.com/feature_article/todays-inspection-audit-reality-new-normal/2/

Friday, October 27, 2017

Final Available Class for 2017


GFCP Gluten Free Certification Program
November 6th, 2017 Dallas, TX


GFCP (GLUTEN FREE CERTIFICATION PROGRAM) TRAINING FOR AUDITORS AND CONSULTANTS

SQFI in conjunction with the Allergen Control Group (ACG) is pleased to provide an opportunity for interested auditors to achieve approved auditor certification at the SQF Conference

The Gluten-Free Certification Program (GFCP) is a management system and facility certification used by ingredient and processing manufacturers to demonstrate their commitment to the implementation of responsible practices, related to the safe and reliable production of gluten-free foods.

GFCP is endorsed by the Beyond Celiac (formerly the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness) in the USA and the Canadian Celiac Association. GFCP standard is an incremental core set of fundamental operating requirements that provide a facility with the preventative gluten management systems needed to demonstrate a commitment to gluten controls and social compliance. Successfully, implementing these requirements ensures the facility have the tools in place to meet or exceed regulatory outcomes and avoid dependency on random end-product testing.

Course Description:
The objective of this course is to provide the food industry and internal auditors with the knowledge about the ANAB Accredited Gluten-Free Certification Program, Standard Policies and Procedures, as a necessary step for a facility to successfully complete a third-party audit. The course is based on the auditing methodology documented in ISO 17021 and the technical skills necessary to train and implement the GFCP standards. A Certificate of Attendance will be issued indicating the participant has completed GFCP Industry Training as one of the competencies recommended to acquire a GFCP Certificate of Recognition for the facility and or becoming an approved GFCP auditor. Retailers, consultants and supplier organizations are also welcome to attend this training, to learn about the GFCP Standard and how the auditor will audit in the standard.

Pre-Requisites:
Although there are no set requirements to sit for this course, there are specific pre-requisite competencies in order to become a certified GFCP approved auditor.

The goals of this one-day course are:
Gain a clear understanding of the GFCP standard.
Comprehend the requirements to be an approved GFCP internal or third-party Auditor
Learn the GFCP Standard Certification Assessment Requirements

Instructors:
Oscar Camacho, President Superior Food Safety Inc., SQF License Training Center & SQF Certified Consultant – High Risk and SQF Certified Trainer
Paul Valder, President, Allergen Control Group Inc.

Date: Monday, November 6, 2017
Time: 7:00 am – 5:00 pm
Cost: USD $375.00 per person (includes course materials and lunch)

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

On-site PRIVATE classes in English & Spanish and Consulting Services


WE OFFER PUBLIC AND ON-SITE TRAINING CLASSES:

  • HACCP Workshop
  • Implementing SQF Training - Version 8.0 - English and Spanish
  • FSMA Preventive Controls for Human Foods
  • FSPCA For Human Food Compliance
  • Produce Safety Rule Training Official Program
  • SQF Quality Systems For Food Manufacturers
  • Internal and External GFSI Audits
  • Crisis Management
  • Gluten Free Certification Program
  • SQF Advance Practitioner Course
  • Prerequisite Programs

WE ALSO OFFER:

  • Food Safety Consulting Services

Please visit our website or send us an email for more information!

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Superior Food Safety Training Classes


WE OFFER PUBLIC AND ON-SITE TRAINING CLASSES:
  • HACCP Workshop
  • Implementing SQF Training - Version 8.0 - English and Spanish
  • FSMA Preventive Controls for Human Foods
  • FSPCA For Human Food Compliance
  • Produce Safety Rule Training Official Program
  • SQF Quality Systems For Food Manufacturers
  • Internal and External GFSI Audits
  • Crisis Management
  • Gluten Free Certification Program
  • SQF Advance Practitioner Course
  • Prerequisite Programs
WE ALSO OFFER: 

Food Safety Consulting Services

Please visit our website or send us an email for more information!

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Napa Valley Grape Harvest


Each year at the end of summer, the Napa Valley comes alive with the excitement and rush of harvest. After months of careful nurturing and observation, winemakers all over the valley finally give the word, "it's time."

The Stages Of Harvest In Napa Valley

Grapes for sparkling wines are the first to be picked, usually in early August, marking the start of "crush". Next, most of the white wines make their way from the vineyard to the crush pad.

Harvest continues through late October - sometimes early November - for red varieties, as they take a bit longer to reach full maturation. Harvesting of Cabernet Sauvignon grapes in the Napa Valley begins later than most other varieties and typically lasts the longest.

Late-harvest wines are made from grapes left on the vine longer than usual, allowing them to get riper and produce more highly concentrated sugars. Harvesting of these grapes can last until December.

To learn more and for a list of Harvest Parties and Interactive Harvest experiences please visit this link: www.visitnapavalley.com/events/harvest/

Thursday, October 12, 2017

SQF Quality Systems For Manufacturers


If you want to better understand the benefit of implementing quality systems in your Food processing facility, I invite you to read this article.

Many times companies take into consideration pricing factor without considering the pros and cons of low cost vs. high, or sub-contracting labor overseas vs. domestically.

At Superior Food Safety we find the implementation of effective quality systems in the USA food industry as one of the biggest opportunities to reduce waste and impact the bottom line and cash flow. An effective quality system focuses on compliance with finished product specifications while reducing all kinds of waste such as product, labor, excess of inventory, downtime and loss of opportunity among others.

The SQF Quality Systems for Manufacturers Edition 8.0 training will equip you with the tools you need to learn in order to put in place controls to track and reduce waste and improve your operations as a result.

Monday, October 9, 2017

FDA Extends Nutrition Facts Deadline


The FDA today (Sept. 29) announced a delay in the implementation date for the new Nutrition Facts panel, from July 26, 2018, to Jan. 1, 2020, for food processors with $10 million or more in annual food sales. Manufacturers with less than $10 million in sales have an extra year to comply — until Jan. 1, 2021.

The extension has been rumored for a while, as the Trump administration has been revisiting many "burdensome" rules imposed by the previous administration. There also remain some key vacancies at FDA and USDA, necessitating some delays.

The delay also involves the final rules (and implementation dates) for Supplement Facts and Serving Size.

Back in May of 2016, the FDA announced the new Nutrition Facts label for packaged foods to reflect new scientific information, including the link between diet and chronic diseases such as obesity and heart disease. "The new label will make it easier for consumers to make better informed food choices," the agency said at the time. That gave the food industry two years to prepare for the changes.

The biggest changes were calling out added sugars, increasing many serving sizes and making calories bigger and bolder. "After those rules were finalized, industry and consumer groups provided the FDA with feedback regarding the compliance dates," the agency wrote today. "After careful consideration, the FDA determined that additional time would provide manufacturers covered by the rule with necessary guidance from FDA, and would help them be able to complete and print updated nutrition facts panels for their products before they are expected to be in compliance.

"As a result, the FDA intends to extend the compliance dates to provide the additional time for implementation. The framework for the extension will be guided by the desire to give industry more time and decrease costs, balanced with the importance of minimizing the transition period during which consumers will see both the old and the new versions of the label in the marketplace."

Article Source: http://www.foodprocessing.com/i

Superior Food Safety Training Classes

WE OFFER PUBLIC AND ON-SITE TRAINING CLASSES:
  • HACCP Workshop
  • Implementing SQF Training - Version 8.0 - English and Spanish
  • FSMA Preventive Controls for Human Foods
  • FSPCA For Human Food Compliance
  • Produce Safety Rule Training Official Program
  • SQF Quality Systems For Food Manufacturers
  • Internal and External GFSI Audits
  • Crisis Management
  • Gluten Free Certification Program
  • SQF Advance Practitioner Course
  • Prerequisite Programs


WE ALSO OFFER:
Food Safety Consulting Services

Please visit our website or send us an email for more information!

Friday, October 6, 2017

Yesterday's Internal and External Audits GFSI Workshop


Superior Food Safety's Oscar Camacho gave a workshop about "Internal and External Audits GFSI" at TORANI facilities. 

For information about our upcoming classes and workshops please visit our website: 

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

The Changing Landscape of a Foodborne Illness Outbreak Response


New tools like online reporting allow health departments to better mitigate risks of foodborne illness.

Recent high-profile foodborne illness outbreaks appear to have an enduring impact for the entire industry – from when and how health departments respond to alleged illness to how a single tweet wreaks havoc. The bar for when a comprehensive response is required is lower and the extent and nature of the required response has changed.

Here’s what we’ve learned:

Health departments are receiving more complaints from consumers. Although much of this is believed to be related to the high-profile outbreaks, some are a result of health department websites making it easier to report illness. A few years ago, guest illness reporting required calling the health department during business hours, working your way through complex voicemail options until you reached a recorded line to leave a message about your illness. Today, most health departments in large cities and many in smaller counties, have simple on line reporting systems available 24/7. So when someone isn’t feeling well at midnight, and is sure it’s from the last thing they ate, they go online and report the illness.

Health departments are now more often following up on single reports of illness and reports of illness that are inconsistent with most foodborne illness incubation periods. This is creating a large burden for already short-staffed departments, but in response to what the public now expects. In the past, they might have replied to the ill guest and explained that they’d received no other reports, that most foodborne illness has a longer incubation period and refer the illness to personal physicians if a follow up is clinically appropriate. But today, we’re finding many health departments dispatching inspectors for even a single complaint that doesn’t appear consistent with incubation periods for that meal.

There’s increasing pressure on health departments to go public with illness events – even if the illness is no longer ongoing or creating a public health risk. The foodborne illness legal community has made it clear that they believe the public has the right to know about any and every foodborne illness. And some health departments are responding to that pressure – without their being an on-going public health risk; which would have been the trigger in the past.

Guest complaints about illness are occurring more frequently. Every single one of our clients is reporting an on-going uptick in guest reports of illness. We’re not clear if it’s that consumers are more aware of illness, more concerned or more likely to associate it with a restaurant or food service provider. But the entire industry is seeing an increase in guest reports of illness. And every guest assumes it was the last meal they ate.

How you handle any guest complaint about illness is even more critical than it was a few months ago. Here’s why: if you don’t’ respond to the guest quickly and listen with authentic empathy, that guest is far more likely than ever before to tweet about you, write a bad review, post on social media or contact the media. You need to act quickly and it doesn’t matter if it’s a weekend or holiday. Waiting until Monday morning is not an option.

Noro season is year-round now… it’s no longer the winter vomiting disease like it is called in some places. Noro virus outbreaks continued in California (and elsewhere) until after the school year ended. We need to be alert to Noro all of the time.

Employees continue to work sick. There are so many reasons that employees work sick and it has little or nothing to do with paid sick time. They work sick because they’re not very sick, they don’t understand that any gastrointestinal upset may be a sign of foodborne illness, they don’t want to disappoint their manager or they don’t want to let their team down. They’re working sick for altruistic reasons without understanding the potential ramifications. We have a long way to go in educating managers and employees about what “sick” looks like, what can happen from working sick and why we need to work together long term to change this set of behaviors.

Employee Exclusion Policies need to be revisited. Someone is shedding the Noro virus for twenty-four hours prior to become symptomatic and then at very high levels for three days after symptoms end. Sick employees need to be excluded for much longer than they currently are in most restaurants and food service establishments to control Noro outbreaks.

Employee Illness on Days Off are as critical to crisis prevention and response as illness on work days. You need to know if an employee was sick on a scheduled work day or on a day off. As we discussed previously, they were shedding the Noro virus before they got sick and for days after. Your illness response plan needs to include a very robust tool for employee illness reporting – one that is as easy to use seven days a week and raises an alert to management when there are two or more sick employees.

It’s time to redraft and recommunicate the definition of a potential crisis in your organization. In the past, we previously used the following definitions of what defined a potential crisis for a restaurant or foodservice group:

  • Two or more employee illness reports (for same time period and symptoms)
  • Two or more guest complaints (from different parties for same time period)
  • One confirmed employee illness (with a communicable disease)

Your new definition must be broader and reflect the lower trigger points for action. It may include one guest complaint from a large party, illness in a neighboring school, social media buzz about illness from your location and / or a health inspection in response to a guest complaint of alleged illness.

The takeaway: the lessons learned continue to evolve and new ones emerge with each new outbreak. Making sure we identify and share these lessons across the industry and your organization is critical for being prepared to first identify and then quickly respond to the next threat that comes your way.

Article Source: https://foodsafetytech.com/feature_article/changing-landscape-foodborne-illness-outbreak-response/

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Register Now for 2017 Classes


Developing and Implementing SQF Systems - SQF Code, 8.0 Edition
October 11, 12, 2017 Santa Ana, CA (English)

GFSI Internal And External Audit Workshop 

SQF Quality Systems For Food Manufacturers 
October 26th,27th 2017 Napa, CA 

Gluten-Free Certification Program 
November 6th 2017 Dallas, TX

Our specialty is helping you have well-defined food safety programs that help you be more successful and effective, and we make that easy for you and your team.

For more Food Safety Training please visit our website: http://www.superiorfoodsafety.com/training.html

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

October Internal and External GFSI Audit Workshop - Early Bird Registration Ends October 4th


October 20, 2017
8:00 AM - 5:00 PM (PDT)


Location
Springhill Suites, 101 Gateway Rd E, Napa, CA 94558

Registration
1-2 Attendees Early Bird - Save $30 per person – $480.00 This registration is for 1-2 attendees. If you have 3 or more please select 3+ registration. Early bird ends October 4th.
3+ Attendees Early Bird- Save $70 per person – $440.00 This registration is for 3 or more attendees only. Savings based on single attendee after early bird time period. Early Bird ends October 4th.

The goals of the Internal and External GFSI Audits course are to:

- Provide and improve the knowledge, skills and abilities required by GSFI auditors, food industry professionals and internal auditors on:
  • Food Safety Management Systems
  • Good Manufacturing Practices and Good Agricultural Practices
  • HACCP Program
  • Review ISO-19011 Auditing Principles
  • Gain understanding of the GFSI schemes (SQF, BRC, FSSC2200, Global G.A.P.) from the auditor point of view

*This workshop complies with the training requirements for GFSI professionals and Internal auditors for GFSI approved schemes (SQF, BRC, FSSC22000, Global G.A.P. among others)

*This workshop has been designed by MSc. Oscar Camacho with more than 28 years of experience managing Food Safety and Quality Systems in the food industry, and based on the weaknesses found with his customers while providing auditing and consulting services.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Register Now for Developing and Implementing SQF Systems Version 8


11 Oct 2017 - 12 Oct 2017


Schedule
11 Oct 2017, 8:00 AM 5:00 PM
12 Oct 2017, 8:00 AM 5:00 PM

Location
Hampton Inn 2720 Hotel Terrace Dr, Santa Ana, CA 92705

Registration
1-2 Attendees – $790.00
Registration closes on October 9th.
3+ Attendees - Save $50 Per Attendee – $740.00
Attendees must be from same company. Registration closes on October 9th.

SQF Code, Edition 8. It introduces a new approach for assessing individual food industry sectors with customized requirements in separate, stand-alone Codes: Food Safety Fundamentals, Primary Production (Produce), Manufacturing, Distribution, Food Packaging, Retail, and Quality.

- The most notable change to the structure of the program is the separation of the food safety and quality requirements into individual assessments, customized for each industry segment and covering more than 30 supplier and food sector categories: produce and livestock; manufacturing; distribution; manufacturer of food packaging and a new program specific to food retail.

Course Description:

- Promote an understanding of the SQF Code.

- Create a knowledge base to facilitate the successful implementation of an SQF System and understand the process for aligning with FSMA regulatory requirements.

- Show how a HACCP-based approach manages food safety and quality hazards in an operation.

- The SQF Food Safety Code for Manufacturing applies specifically to Food Sector Categories 7-22, 31-34 and includes Modules 2 (Systems Elements) and Module 11 (Food Safety Fundamentals for Food Manufacturing).

- Designed to provide current and new SQF Practitioners, Sr. Management, Production Personnel, and their team members with the tools and knowledge to develop and maintain their SQF food safety management system and understand the process for aligning with FSMA regulatory requirements

Who Should Attend?

SQFP, Food Safety Professionals, Sr. Management, Suppliers, Food Safety Auditors, Support Staff.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Superior Food Safety Training Classes


WE OFFER PUBLIC AND ON-SITE TRAINING CLASSES:
  • HACCP Workshop
  • Implementing SQF Training - Version 8.0 - English and Spanish
  • FSMA Preventive Controls for Human Foods
  • FSPCA For Human Food Compliance
  • Produce Safety Rule Training Official Program
  • SQF Quality Systems For Food Manufacturers
  • Internal and External GFSI Audits
  • Crisis Management
  • Gluten Free Certification Program
  • SQF Advance Practitioner Course
  • Prerequisite Programs
WE ALSO OFFER: 

Food Safety Consulting Services

Please visit our website or send us an email for more information!

Monday, September 18, 2017

FDA Commissioner Addresses State Agriculture Commissioners; Announces New Steps to Enhance Collaboration with States and Ensure Farmers Are Prepared for FSMA


FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D., today outlined a number of immediate next steps in a comprehensive approach to ensuring successful implementation of the Produce Safety Rule established by the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).

In a speech in New Orleans at the annual conference of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA), Dr. Gottlieb announced that the agency has recognized a need for additional efforts to educate the produce industry and state regulatory partners on the new produce safety requirements, and will continue its focus on training, guidance development, and outreach over the next year. This is particularly important since the nation’s farming community has not previously been subject to this kind of oversight.

Dr. Gottlieb also announced steps the FDA will be taking to address concerns related to the complexity and feasibility of implementing standards for agricultural water.

The next steps include the following:

Agricultural Water Compliance Dates: The FDA today issued a proposed rule that, if finalized, would extend the compliance dates for the agricultural water requirements by an additional two to four years (for produce other than sprouts). The proposed extension will give the agency time to take another look at the water standards to ensure that they are feasible for farmers in all regions of the country, while protecting public health. The new agricultural water compliance date the FDA is proposing for the largest farms is January 26, 2022. Small farms and very small farms would have until January 26, 2023 and January 26, 2024, respectively. The proposed rule is open for public comment for 60 days.

(The proposed extension would also simplify the compliance framework to give all of the water requirements a four-year delay compared to farms’ primary compliance dates. The produce rule now includes a delay of two years in the compliance dates for certain agricultural water requirements, but for others there is no delay.)

The FDA does not intend to take action to enforce the agricultural water requirements for produce other than sprouts while the rulemaking to extend the compliance dates is underway. Sprouts, because of their unique vulnerability to contamination, remain subject to applicable agricultural water requirements in the final rule and their original compliance dates.

Stakeholder Engagement on Agricultural Water Standards: During the additional time that would be afforded by the extended compliance dates, the FDA plans to engage with stakeholders to learn more from farmers, state regulatory partners and other stakeholders about the diverse ways water is used and ensure that the standards will be as practical and effective as possible for all farming operations. This will include a summit on agricultural water early next year -- we will have more information on this later in the year.

Water Testing Methods: In a recent letter to Western Growers, the FDA listed eight additional testing methods from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and other public health entities that it has determined are equivalent to the method incorporated by reference (Method 1603) in the Produce Safety Rule. Numerous stakeholders have asked for the FDA to recognize other methods that are appropriate for use in agricultural water testing. The FDA has posted the list of methods it has determined to be equivalent on its website, and intends to add other methods to the list as they are identified.

Produce Farm Inspections: Large farming operations will still be expected to meet all produce safety requirements set by the rule for produce other than sprouts, except those related to agricultural water, by the original January 26, 2018 compliance date. However, Dr. Gottlieb announced that inspections to assess compliance with the non-water requirements of the Produce Safety Rule for produce other than sprouts will not begin until 2019. The FDA and its state partners will use this time to provide more education, training and outreach on the new requirements. In particular, states -- in conjunction with NASDA and the FDA -- will expand On-Farm Readiness Reviews, already piloted in six states, in which a team of state officials, cooperative extension agents, and FDA produce experts provide farmers with an assessment of their “readiness” to meet the new requirements. State points of contact will receive further information on the change this week in the form of letters from the FDA’s Office of Regulatory Affairs and calls are being scheduled to answer any questions.

Earlier this year, the FDA awarded more than $30 million to support 43 states in their development of produce safety programs. This builds on the nearly $22 million that the FDA awarded last year to 42 states. States will receive information from the FDA this week on how existing cooperative agreement funding can be reallocated to provide for additional focus on educational and outreach activities in lieu of inspections.

Training Opportunities for Producers and Regulators: The FDA remains committed to ensuring that produce farmers and state regulators have the training needed to implement the Produce Safety Rule. Training of state regulators will be a top priority for the FDA in 2018, and additional details on training opportunities and other FSMA related training courses will be provided at a webinar being scheduled for October. The agency is committed to working in partnership with farmers and the states, particularly over the next year, to ensure that the fruits and vegetables we serve our families are safe and that consumers have the greatest possible confidence in the produce they consume.

Article Source: https://www.fda.gov/Food/NewsEvents/ConstituentUpdates/ucm575532.htm

Friday, September 15, 2017

Register NOW for Superior Food Safety's Upcoming Classes!


Developing and Implementing SQF Systems - SQF Code, 8.0 Edition

SQF Quality Systems For Food Manufacturers 
October 26th,27th 2017 Napa, CA 
December 6th,7th 2017 Santa Ana, CA 

Gluten-Free Certification Program 
November 6th 2017 Dallas, TX

 GFSI Internal And External Audit Workshop 
December 8th 2017 Santa Ana, CA

Our specialty is helping you have well-defined food safety programs that help you be more successful and effective, and we make that easy for you and your team.

For more Food Safety Training please visit our website: http://www.superiorfoodsafety.com/training.html

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

3 Ways to Ensure Food Safety for Packaged Foods

Critical factors that affect the safety, shelf life and hygiene of products.


Food safety and hygiene are very important aspects of food production, processing and consumption. In the absence of proper hygiene and safety protocols, the entire food chain right from the farmer who grows the food till the consumer who eats it is compromised. Food safety lapses like contamination and spoiling of food pose major health risks.

There are many ways in which a perfectly safe food product can turn hazardous. Cross contamination from animal matter, lack of hygiene among workers in processing plants, poor sanitation procedures, inadequate preservation techniques and low-quality packaging can all adversely affect the shelf life of a food product. Raw food spoils much faster than processed food, so fresh vegetables and fruits used in food processing must be washed properly and stored at optimal temperatures before they are processed.

The following are a few critical factors that affect the safety, shelf life and hygiene of food products.

1. Hygiene in Processing Plants
Personal hygiene and excellent sanitation policies are essential to maintaining food safety. Processing facilities potentially have several points of food contact equipment and food contact surfaces. There must be well developed and written standard cleaning practices or sanitation procedures for all such high-touch areas in a food processing plant. All equipment, vessels and surfaces must be monitored for bioburden or presence of microbial matter.

The workers must also be aware of good personal hygiene practices. This will help prevent cross contamination and possible spread of foodborne diseases from humans. Workers suffering from contagious diseases should refrain from coming to work and regular employee health checkups must be carried out by doctors. All staff must be trained in food and personal hygiene, and strictly follow recommended methods of hand washing and drying. Proper usage of hygiene gear including masks, caps, gloves, overalls and footwear must be ensured.

Floors, walls, drainage facilities, narrow cat-walks and all surfaces in the processing area must be cleaned thoroughly using high quality cleaning materials. The standard cleaning practices must be diligently met each time and the supervisors should ensure that the crew is doing their job properly. Quality and consistent employee training, and effective instant monitoring methods like ATP testing will help achieve these goals.

2. Good Packaging Is Crucial
The quality and suitability of packaging are also very important in determining the safety, longevity and hygiene of food products.

Evolving consumer habits, growth of online marketplaces, increased consumption of high-protein foods, popular demand for smaller portions due to shrinking family size and the rise in new global distribution channels have all impacted packaging requirements.

Sustainable and responsibly sourced packaging materials are the hallmark of advanced packaging technology. They are environmentally friendly and do not deplete natural resources. Clean label packaging focuses on using recycled materials, high-pressure packaging technology, digital packaging and 3-D printing techniques, and outsourcing of more activities to save money, time and resources.

The need for reducing food waste has been an important objective of all recent packaging innovations. According to a recent report by The Guardian, almost half of all U.S. food produce is thrown away. Global food waste can be reduced by extending the shelf life of packaged foods, thereby avoiding early disposal and excessive purchasing. Latest innovations include in-built freshness sensors in packaging that alert customers when food goes bad, vacuum skin innovations, barrier bags and modified-atmosphere packaging.

3. Consumer Awareness Is Key
The end user or the customer who buys the food product for consumption also needs to be aware of good food use, preparation and storage methods.

Fresh veggies and fruits should be washed thoroughly, chopped, diced, and sliced, and stored in clear, airtight containers in the fridge. Prepare and cook raw foods like fish, poultry and meat to extend their storage life. Cooked food can be safely frozen for a long time. In addition, many food items like casseroles, soups, sauces, stir-fries and baked foods stay safe for cooking and consumption even beyond their typically assumed use-by date.

As responsible consumers, we must be aware of the difference between use-by, sell-by, best-before and expiration dates. This will prevent us from throwing away a whole lot of perfectly edible food items from our pantries.

Conclusion
Food safety is a matter of global concern and affects the well being of billions of people all over the world. Ensuring safety, hygiene, freshness and long shelf life of food items will help reduce food waste, hunger and starvation in the world. It will also reduce the burden on limited natural resources and will help ensure a sustainable and efficient food chain.

Article Source: https://foodsafetytech.com/column/3-ways-ensure-food-safety-packaged-foods/