Wednesday, July 20, 2011

To spray or not to spray?

Avoiding chemical contamination of food product within your food business is not rocket science.  It is common sense and basic food safety not to spray pest or cleaning chemicals directly onto the surface of the food....right?  You would think so - but it is this very issue that has resulted in me issuing corrective action requests (CARs).

What went wrong?

There have been two separate food safety incidents of late.  The first involved an abnormal chemical showing up on a laboratory report and the second actually occurred whilst I was standing observing a food handler undertake a cleaning activity.

Linking food safety laboratory results

An item of produce was tested for a range of pesticides as part of a routine food safety verification program.  Product was sent to an external laboratory and tested for a range of different pesticides to confirm compliance with the law around MRL’s (maximum residue limits).  It was from the laboratory report that a pesticide not usually associated with the produce was identified.

This chemical was later found to be the same as an active constituent found in common house ‘fly spray’. Cans of ‘fly spray’ were found around the produce packing rooms. So in short, food handlers were controlling flies in the packing area by the use of common fly-spray but did not consider the spray landing on food product.

Cleaning 101
On the second occasion, I was standing watching a food handler cleaning a piece of equipment. Cleaning chemical was being applied to the surface of a hot grill using a spray bottle.  They continued to spray chemical onto the grill without any concern for the open cold storage server located right next to the grill.

You could actually see the chemical spray drifting and landing directly onto the freshly prepared salad and sandwich ingredients. When the food handler was questioned about their actions, they had no idea what they had done or what the food safety implications were.

Food Safety Lessons Learned

Hopefully from these two examples, you can avoid the simple food safety hazard of chemical contamination within your food business.  It is also highly recommended that all food handlers are trained in the correct storage and use of chemicals.  Take a minute to think about the use of chemicals in your business and if you have correctly assessed the risk in your HACCP hazard analysis.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

How to control External Documents for HACCP

The control of external documents is a requirement of the majority of food safety and quality standards including WQA, SQF and BRC.  External documents are defined as being any document that comes into your business from an external source or a document that has not been developed directly by your food business.

As a food safety auditor, I see many different methods for the control of external documents. However, from an evidence base (proof to support compliance), a food business cannot go wrong with having an external document register.

The register should list the following:
  • The name of the external document
  • The source of the external document
  • The date of the publication of external document
  • The location of the external document (where is it stored within your food business)
There is no need to mark the external document in any way if you have it listed on the document register.  To test your current system (mini internal audit), check that the following random documents are currently controlled.

  • Certificate of Currency for your Liability Insurance
  • Pest Control Bait Location Map
  • Customer Requirements / Standard eg. BRC, SQF, WQA, Spotless, Cosco, McDonalds
  • Chemical Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS’s)
  • HACCP Training Certificates
I am sure that you can come up with many more but these will get you started.  Do you have another method that you use for external document control? Let us know.