The recent revelations about the contamination of meat products has sparked a huge investigation into the food processing industry and raised questions about systems and procedures. This week the Food Standards Agency asked UK firms to test all processed beef foods, making it highly likely that more discoveries about the ingredients in our food may be revealed.
We work closely with many food processing businesses to ensure contamination from rodents or insects doesn’t occur. Creatures can sneak into a factory via a food delivery from overseas – cockroaches and spiders commonly enter the UK by this manner. Last year there were dozens of cases of homeowners and factories reporting infestations from invasive species.
Implementing a pest control solution adapted to your business needs is crucial to preventing an infestation but there are other processes you could implement too. HACCP stands for Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points and is a science-based system used to identify hazards and measures for their control, reduction and prevention which ensures the safety of food products. It is designed to manage risk such as the inclusion of foreign bodies in food or protecting brand reputation. By including critical control points risk can be managed effectively which would prevent or eliminate a hazard. A risk can be measured against the severity of the consequences. In the case of food contamination the risk to brand reputation is severe.
Whether you have a food processing factory or a restaurant it is important to identify potential hazards and their consequences, and place a control point at every place there may be a risk of contamination. Here are the main points to consider:
The Seven Principles of HACCP
• Identify critical control points (CCP) in the end to end process
• Establish critical limits for each CCP
• Establish a system to monitor control of CCPs
• Establish Corrective Actions to be taken when a particular CCP is not in control.
• Establish procedures for verifying that the HACCP system is working as intended
• Establish record keeping appropriate to these principles and their application
In regards to the case about horse meat there was a huge element of trust between the food processing factories and the meat suppliers. Placing a control point to test imported meat before it entered the food processing cycle would have quickly alerted the manufacturers to a problem.
The issue of horse meat in food products will now only serve to fuel public health concerns about contamination of food which could be biological, chemical, or physical. The damage will be hard to repair for some brands but may well have been minimised if they could have proved that by they had taken adequate steps to prevent contamination. A process such as HACCP is designed to detect unsafe products before it reaches the consumer and provide records of due diligence, indicating that a monitoring procedure took place. If you own a food processing business have you implemented a similar process? Please share your comments below.