Wednesday, April 27, 2011

HACCP Gap Audits

Prior to getting HACCP certification or certification to a customer standard, a food company may elect to have a HACCP GAP audit performed.  In the majority of situations, food businesses elect to try to achieve HACCP certification in the first instance. Unfortunately, this is where the business fails.  Not understanding the value of a HACCP GAP audit can have a significant effect on the food business. Let’s review the benefits of a HACCP GAP audit.

Auditor Guidance

A Gap audit is the only situation where the food auditor can give some level of guidance. Auditor guidance at this stage can assist you and your business in fully understanding the requirements of HACCP or the customer standard that you are going to be later certified to.

Independent Review

A Gap audit allows an independent eye to look at your HACCP documentation, records and practices.  You can then make applicable changes if needed, before your HACCP certification audit.


No corrective actions requests (CARs) are raised during a HACCP Gap audit.  If you have performance indicators identified or bonus payments for “no CARs” in your position description, a HACCP GAP audit can save you explaining to management why you haven’t succeeded in your job role.

Familiar Process

If it is your first HACCP audit, a Gap audit will allow you to get comfortable with the process in order to be prepared for your HACCP certification audit.

Identify process gaps

The whole idea of a HACCP GAP audit is to assess where your food business is situated in regards to compliance. The identification of the level or magnetite of GAP can assist you in determining resource allocation, certification timeframes and current / required compliance.

I would always recommend a GAP audit for any new standard that you may wish to obtain HACCP certification for.  In the long run, it can save you and your food business a lot of time and money.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Food Safety of Japanese Imports

With the recent nuclear disaster issues in Japan there have been many media reports concerning the safety of both the food and water supply. FSANZ (Food Standards Australia New Zealand) have now taken this into consideration and requested that the regulator responsible for food importation in Australia, AQIS (Australian Quarantine Inspection Service) to undertake testing of food products imported from Japan.

This action comes off the back of both the Japanese and Singapore governments detecting levels of radionuclide well above the international CODEX guidelines. Australia’s actions follow that of other countries, namely China and South Korea who have also scaled up their testing regimes.

At this stage, The World Health Organisation has reported that leafy green vegetables, milk, egg and meat products are the biggest concern for possible contamination. Eating food containing radioactive materials could increase the risks of certain cancers in the future.

A check of your raw materials and review of raw material specifications should aid in the identification of any products that may have been imported from Japan. Another area to check is if your food safety risk assessment has considered the likelihood and consequence of increased levels of particular chemicals outside of regulatory limits.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Love the Glove?

There is much debate around whether to wear gloves or not during the food preparation and food handling process. It seems that every time I run a food safety training session someone always asks the question. Personally, I am not a big fan, but that is not to say there is not a time or place.

Gloves are great when used and managed correctly. By this I mean – treat the gloves as you would treat your own hands. When your hands have become contaminated you are required to wash them thoroughly. It is therefore expected that when the gloves are contaminated, they are replaced with a clean set. The current food laws within Australia do not stipulate that gloves must be worn. It does however state that your hands must be washed when contaminated and that you must also take all practical measures to prevent unnecessary contact with ready-to-eat food.

The majority of the customer standards that I audit against require that if gloves are going to be worn, they are a contrasting colour to that of the food that is being manufactured. Regardless of the colour, I see regular customer complaints where gloves have ended up in the finished product. If your company is using x-ray technology to assess foreign matter in finished product, please be mindful to include pieces of glove in the verification process. If not, company GMP programs need to ensure control and appropriate disposal of gloves.

What is your stance on gloves used in food manufacturing? Let us know by leaving a comment.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Calculating Nutritional Information

Driving to Sydney last week I heard on the radio about KFC’s new “bunless” burger which includes 2 chicken fillets, cheese and bacon delivering a massive 2,5ookJ and around 35g of fat. A lot of the listener feedback was negative as you would expect. My daughter (who was in the car with me) asked the question “How do they work out how much fat is in the food?” After providing the answer I started to think about how correct is the nutritional information that food companies put on their food packaging?

There are many people (myself included) that use this food labelling in the quest to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight. The nutritional data allows an informed decision to be made by the consumer around whether or not to eat the product. The majority of standards (and the law) requires the food company to provide the consumer with the nutritional data of the product. There are two ways in which nutritional information can be worked out. The first way is to have a sample of the actual food sent to a laboratory and analysed. The second way, and most common method, is to calculate the information based on the raw materials and product recipe. The calculation method is definitely more cost effective if there are a large number of products requiring nutritional information.

There are free calculators and paid calculators available for the food industry to use. The FSANZ (Food Standards Australia New Zealand) calculator can be accessed for free at Nutrition Panel Calculator. I prefer to use a program called Foodworks to calculate both nutritional information and ingredient listings.

Whatever program that you decide to use please make sure the information you are producing is accurate. Remember, people are making dietary decisions based on the information that is provided on the product labelling. In the coming weeks we will host a webinar on how to calculate your nutritional information correctly. To register your interest please contact us.