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News - Food Safety


ENTECOM Press Release

BY Janice Giddy

ENTECOM Press Release


For immediate release


ENTECOM enters into joint venture with TEMPO offering paperless Food Safety Management systems


Port Elizabeth, 2 November 2016


ENTECOM has been in operation for eleven years. During this time Entecom has assisted hundreds of companies pass their food safety certification audits and has trained thousands of employees in the food industry.


Entecom has franchises located across all main regions in South Africa and offers a comprehensive range of food safety training, consulting and auditing services. The company prides itself in being able to tailor services to fit all sizes of food businesses. Consultants speak multiple languages and become part of an invaluable support structure to the food business they consult to. ENTECOM Training programmes are extremely popular due to the fact that there is a clear pathway of skill progression where learners can accumulate credits, recognised by SAQA (South African Qualifications Authority) as they master food safety requirements and improve their employability. Tempo, a software development and technical support company with offices in Durban and Cape Town, has been in operation since 2009. The Tempo software has an excellent track record and offers the perfect solution to companies in the food industry who need to manage multiple compliance requirements. Many companies have to comply with GlobalG.A.P., Organic, FSSC 22000 or BRC food safety standards, Occupational Health and Safety, Ethical standards such as SMETA as well as customer requirements and the list goes on and seems to get longer every year. Managing all of this information becomes a huge challenge and there is a now a growing need to integrate, simplify, streamline, automate and have the ability to constantly track performance.


Janice Giddy, Entecom managing director comments, “Our joint venture with Tempo now enables us to offer a paperless software support solution to all of our clients in the food industry. This has generated a lot of excitement from small to corporate size food businesses. We have an affordable model that can fit and work for food business in South Africa and the food industry is ready for it.”
With offices now situated across all regions in SA, Entecom has plans to expand into other African countries.


-ENDS-


For more information please contact:
Janice Giddy / Clarice Oelofse
Entecom Head Office
Port Elizabeth
(041) 3661970 /80
info@entecom.co.za

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 November 03, 2016
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Food Safety

Importance of Food hygiene and Food Safety

BY Christine Rammutla

Consumers of the 21st century have become more demanding in regard to healthy and safe food putting pressure on food producing and handling companies. Proper hygiene is very important when it comes to food preparation. Without washing hands and kitchen tools, diseases may easily spread. In some places in South Africa, this crucial matter is not always known and is unfortunately taken lightly.


Since cross-contamination is a major cause of food poisoning and can transfer bacteria from one food item to other foods, it is crucial to be aware of how it spreads so you will know how to prevent it.Good food hygiene is therefore essential for a food producers to make and sell food that is safe to eat. The first step is for the management and staff to have knowledge and understand of what food hygiene and food safety is.


The food chain starts from farm to folk/plate. Through the chain, it is imperative to make sure that food produced is not contaminated with any potential harmful bacteria, chemicals and toxins from production, transportation, preparation and consumption. All food handlers along the production chain, from producer to consumer, must observe safe food handling practices. With that said, it is important for food handlers in the food industry to receive food safety and food hygiene awareness training throughout the value chain. For the staff to implement procedures and systems such as GMP and HACCP, they need training as this will reduce or prevent food borne illness related deaths.


Whichever type of system is in place within a business, the most important aspect of its success is that the team involved are sufficiently trained and competent to implement and maintain it; and that management are fully equipped to monitor effectively and consistently. By ensuring food handlers are trained from the first level in a reputable food safety qualification, this helps businesses meet their legal obligation to ensure staff are trained to a level commensurate with their job roles. Other benefits of practicing proper food hygiene would include to reduce the risk of food poisoning among their customers and protect the business's reputation.


This article was written by Christine Rammutla, Entecom Limpopo franchisee.
Entecom Limpopo contact details: 082 849 3502. 
Various food safety training courses (accredited skills programmes & customised workshops) offered in Limpopo area: Areas include Polokwane, Phalaborwa, Letaba, Tzaneen, Musina, Bela-Bela & Lephalale & Thabazimbi. Email christine@entecom.co.za for more details.

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 June 22, 2016
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Food Safety

Food Safety Culture - What Does It Mean?

BY Gerda Britz

I recently noted on a well-known company that specialises in Food Safety auditing that they added a Food Safety Culture clause in their audits. I thought that to be very interesting. As many of us experienced working in this industry, food safety often only becomes important when an audit is due or when a client comes and visits the factory. It is this kind of culture in the food industry that leads to serious incidents like we again saw very recently with a mouse making its appearance in a pie.


So what does food Safety culture mean? Let’s break it up. Food Safety which means food that is safe to consume, that will not cause any harm. And culture – the way we do things. The culture of a company defines what is right and what is wrong, acceptable and unacceptable, meaningful and meaningless.


What type of cultures do we experience? There are basic two types of cultures, role based and task based cultures. In role based cultures authority, power and resources are driven by title and individual personality. This may lead to a workforce that is largely disengaged from their work. Employees with little or no discretion in making decisions or input to the decision making process have not motivation to engage when problems arise. They have no ownership in the task performed, they are told how to do it, when to do it and what to do.


Task based cultures are more inclusive on the other hand. This type of culture focuses on problem solving and skills/talent development. A team based approach is used and respect is earned based on professionalism and expertise. Power evolves from the accomplishments of the group rather than the individuals within the group.


By its nature, culture resists change. There is not aspect in a company that is more difficult to change than the culture of the company. A company that wants to embark on this journey to change its culture needs to know that they embark on a journey; it is not something that will happen overnight. A journey that will require time, perseverance and commitment.


The first step to change is for senior management to realise that they will likely not face a more difficult challenge in the professional careers. The members of the executive team must be completely committed to the change; they must be willing to walk the talk. The next step will be to assess where we are now and where do we want to go? Complacency is widely acknowledged as the enemy of change. A sense of urgency needs to be created without also creating panic or anxiety. Often the focus of such change is production while other departments get left behind. It is important to remember this is a company culture change, and all departments needs to be involved and committed to this change. Expect failure, but more importantly learn from it and adapt. Create wins and celebrate them.


When setting out on this journey to culture change it is important to set clear specific details on where you want to go and celebrate small victories, daily.


References –
Creating a Culture of Food Safety By Geoff Schaadt, M.Sc., M.B.A. Food Safety Magazine June/July 2013.
Enhancing food safety culture to reduce rates of foodborne illness -Douglas A. Powella, Casey J. Jacoba, Benjamin J. Chapmanb, a Department of Diagnostic Medicine/Pathobiology, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS 66506, USA b Department of 4-H Youth Development and Family and Consumer Sciences, North Carolina State University, Campus Box 7606, Raleigh, NC 27695-7606, USA Received 2 August 2010, Revised 29 November 2010, Accepted 7 December 2010, Available online 24 December 2010
Food Safety Culture: Creating a Behavior-Based Food Safety Management System By Frank Yiannas

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 June 14, 2016
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Food Safety

Revelations of a food safety auditor

BY Rolf Uys

15 Years ago I landed a job as a food safety auditor with an international auditing body. Last year I decided to hang up my boots to pursue other avenues in food safety. During this time, I had seen well over 1500 food factories. I learnt a great deal about food safety, about best practices and about dealing with people. But I also saw the dirty food safety underbelly of the industry. I am now in a position to reflect back on this career and reveal the actual things I have seen over the years. The idea is not to name and shame. Where and at which factory the issues were noted, will remain unsaid. More important is to reflect “why” these things are happening and to highlight lessons that could be learnt. My top 10 worst findings seen (inside production areas) in South African Food Factories are:


1.Faeces behind an electrical panel
2.Urination inside food factories
3.Drugs (dagga, tik and hypodermic needles) stashed behind structures and equipment
4.Fly maggots, mould and fermentation in product zones
5.Insect infestation in flour silos and flour trucks
6.Live rats/mice in production areas, dead rats in equipment. Rodent droppings on raw materials.
7.Non-conforming product that had failed micro counts, gets sold at the back door for a discount.
8.Cockroach infestation. Cockroaches crawling over food handling equipment.
9.Operator picking up product that had fell on the floor and re-placing it on the line again.
10.Bypassing critical control points (metal detectors, sieves, pasteurizers) to increase production.


There are off course many more to add to the list and it is mostly centered around deep cleaning of equipment and discipline of personnel. It should also be pointed out that these were not first time audits of small little backyard operations. Most were large, well known food manufacturers, with numerous food safety certificates. Unfortunately, if one knows where to look, the food industry is not a very hygienic place. To add more perspective, I have also included a list of the items that food factories failed on most:


1.Live birds inside food facilities
2.Actual foreign object contamination of products noted (for example strings, conveyors, rubber, metal-to- metal contact etc.)
3.Toxic rodent bait used irresponsibly inside food handling areas
4.HACCP plan not followed. What the HACCP plan states and what actually happens, does not correspond
5.Insects in product zones
6.Colour code violations. The cleaning utensil or allergen
colour coding system not being followed
7.Raw materials, work- in-progress, rework or waste being mislabelled or not labelled at all.
8.Falsifying of records
9.Cleaning program not effective
10.Internal audit/ self-inspection program not effective


The question arises how these blatant hygiene violations occur and how food manufacturers are getting away with it?


The why it occurs can be explained by poor training, poor supervision and poor leadership. Shop floor workers rarely get adequate training. An hour food safety induction training once a year simply won’t cut it. Frequently, the issues occur because they simply are not noticed. Food safety often is not properly checked nor followed up at supervisor level. For example cleaning will take place and the supervisor will check very superficially, if at all. In many instances, it is the senior managers that lack proper food safety training and tend to underestimate food safety risks. Too many food Industry senior managers are in the mode of ”doing the right thing” rather than “doing it right”. Food safety should not be seen simply as something that’s the right thing to do. It is a core part of managing a business the right way.


Besides the food safety training of managers there is also a lack of proper leadership in the food industry. Very little managers I have encountered over the years, have the correct skill set to communicate and motivate people. Basics such as job descriptions and performance evaluations for all are simply not in place. As a result, personnel know very little about the business, the role they play and are subsequently not motivated at all.


Then there is the question of how food manufacturers are getting away with it. Well, very few food manufacturers are actually aware that these food safety violations are happening under their noses. They are living in denial. Government health inspectors are supposed to be the first line of defence but are unfortunately not skilled enough to find these issues. Internal inspectors know the process better but still tends to miss the issues because of inexperience and under-training. That leaves it up to external auditors. Their competency is normally better but more often than not it is also not adequate. The fact that there are more and more audit standards and customer requirements makes matters worse. Checklists are becoming longer and auditors are not finding the time to getting their hands dirty inside the factory and finding the real issues. Instead, auditors are sitting in offices and checking paperwork against checklists. It is also no secret that there is the big clean-up before the audit and audit conditions are not consistent with real everyday conditions.
This all leads to a false sense of security. The assumption is made that if there is a food safety certificate on the wall, there will not be issues such as urine, insect infestation or foreign material contamination in the factory.


During my career I have also seen some very good food safety systems. So, to end of on a positive note, let’s look at the top 10 lessons that I have learnt during my career from these good factories. Lessons that food safety personnel, management and fellow auditors can use:


1.Do not live in denial. Do not assume there the factory is free from really bad hygiene issues.
2.Implement a thorough internal inspection program. It must include disassembling equipment and forensically chasing down the pests, dirt poor discipline and foreign materials.
3.Senior management should be actively involved in food safety. This starts with incorporating food safety into the company goals.
4.Senior managers must have a visual presence in food safety. Daily housekeeping walk troughs are a must.
5.Never assume that everybody understands their job and their food safety role. This needs to be actively managed.
6.Motivate personnel. Every day at each opportunity
7.Don’t assign food safety to one person. This should be done by an experienced multi-disciplinary team.
8.Do not have a false sense of security over certification or customer audits. This is only a snap shot.
9.Communicate food safety to all levels
10.Don’t window dress. Every day is audit day


Rolf Uys holds a MSc. in Food Science and currently owns the Western Cape and Tshwane franchises for Entecom, a food safety training and consulting company. His mission is to ignite a passion for food safety. Rolf can be contacted at rolf@entecom.co.za

 

This article first was published in the May issue of FST (South African Food Science and Technology) magazine. For more information please visit www.safst.co.za or email Tricia editorfst@gmail.com.

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 May 10, 2016
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Food Safety

Food Safety on transporting foods by road

BY Merle Litshie

Transportation plays a very important and critical role in ensuring food produced safely reaches its destination without any food safety hazards introduced while in transit. Food can easily be at risk of biological, chemical, physical and allergenic contamination during transportation. Once food is processed and rendered safe for human consumption then storage and transportation should not change the Food Safety status of the food. Factors that affect food during transportation are the following:


• Improper truck used to transport food
• Lack of pre loading inspections (truck and goods)
• Lack of temperature monitoring devices or faulty temperature monitoring devices
• Lack of proper stacking (inadequate segregation)
• No food safety training for driver and assistant on food safety (including hand washing and personnel hygiene)
• Improper training of employees on mixed loads (segregation)
• Inadequate preventive maintenance of vehicles (roof leaks, gaps on doors etc.)

 

To ensure foods maintain foods in a food safe conditions there are simple steps to ensure goods arrive at the required destination at their best quality and food safety status. Loaders, drivers and their assistants should be:


• Trained on Food Safety (including personnel hygiene, hand washing and allergens)
• Trained on temperature monitoring via gauges as well as reporting any malfunctions
• Trained on importance of food security (using seals and locks). They must also adhere to all protocols of stopping to offload then sealing the truck.
• Trained on how to protect temperature sensitive as well as special segregated product after each offloading stop to ensure food is still safe.
Once all the training is completed then monitoring of these activities must be conducted and non conformances recorded with corrective actions. The food safety team must ensure:
• Wash certificates are produced as proof of sanitary conditions of the truck
• all gauges are inspected and calibrated as per specified time interval with the supplier (refrigeration units can support growth of microorganisms if they are not working properly)
• Vehicle inspections are conducted per delivery
• Where necessary eg. Tankers are fumigated regularly with food grade fumigants or steamed to get rid of microorganisms
• Use the R. 364 as a guideline for Food Safety implementation

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 February 29, 2016
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Food Safety

Are thee the weakest Link in the food chain?

BY Mtho Moyo

The clever say that “a chain is as strong as its weakest link”... Does it apply to the food chain we might wonder? You bet it does. Whether you are the guy with the muddy boots or the guy packing the food product in that very attractive packaging material, you all have one goal “SAFE FOOD”.


The Food chain consists of, as the cliché’ goes, Farm to Fork”. Yes the food chain starts at the Farm-Hallo Milk comes from a Cow not Clover! Then distributed to Processing, Processed and then distributed to the Retailers or Restaurants or other Food preparation and of course to our Fork or into our glass in the case of milk and Wine.
 
Along the Food supply chain anything could happen that could seriously affect the safety of the food.Now shall we look at a few common food hazards in the food chain?

 

Farm Food safety Hazards include Microbes such as Salmonella, Ecoli or Listeria monocytogenes.These microbes could come anywhere from the soil, people or animals, water and the environment. Other common hazards that could be introduced at the farm are chemicals such as pesticides residues, Veterinary drugs residues, excess hormones (yes those ones that can make the chicken fully grown in less than a month!).There is also a chance of allergenic hazards especially in a farm that grows a number of produce that includes allergens. One could also have the occasional physical hazards such as stones or sand. I just remembered why I did not like Spinach that much when growing up.
 
Processing is where we could get the higher chance of Food safety hazards, so they say. These hazards can be pretty much anything depending on the type of process and might include those that might have originated from the farm. You can get hazards such as glass fragments, Metal shavings, cleaning chemical residues, Microbes from people or pests, poor hygiene and cleaning practices. If the processing plant also handles allergens there is then that possibility of allergen contamination.


Let us not forget about the Distribution process where we could also encounter other Food safety hazards due to a broken cold chain or perhaps unhygienic trucks or perhaps sheer sabotage.

On a positive note all these hazards can be controlled effectively thanks to the various Food safety management systems based on HACCP. One needs to understand the particular food chain related to the Food being handled to conduct and implement an efficient as well as an effective HACCP system because a generic HACCP study is like using an umbrella in a severe storm.


So do not be the weakest link, because we are there for you from farm to fork to ensure that all food is safe, after all we are consumers too! We shall be like your Captain Fantastic when those unhappy Auditors come disturb your peaceful existence.

 

You can contact mtho@entecom.co.za for more info or phone him direct on 083 441 9333.
 
 

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 November 23, 2015
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Food Safety

Food Safety Management Systems –are they really needed?

BY Angela Jordan

You have been managing your business for many years, you have reliable staff who know what they are doing, surely with all this expertise you do not need a documented food safety management system to be implemented.  Think again.
 
Retailers have been putting pressure on businesses to have a documented food safety management system in place, with never ending expensive audits and findings that urgently need to be resolved, endless procedures, records, checklists, standard operating procedures and matrices that need to be completed and updated.  Rest assured, they are not attempting to make you a puppet on their string, they are protecting the consumers, themselves and your business.
 
The Consumer Protection Act was promulgated in 2008, making South African citizens one of the most protected groups in the world.  Due to the implications of this act, this documented system is now a retailer requirement as proof that the products being sold to consumers at retail stores, contain no hazards which may harm the consumer.  Should the supplier be found to be a repeat offender, they can be sued up to R1 million or 10% of their turnover.  How could one prevent this?  By having documented proof that all aspects of your manufacturing, from receiving and storage of the raw material, to the manufacturing of the product, to the distribution of the product are adhering to food safety requirements.  Another important point to remember is that, before the Act came into being, the consumer (who was harmed from eating your product) had to somehow prove that the manufacturer was negligent in the manufacture of the product, which was virtually impossible.  Now the onus is on the manufacturer to prove that they were not negligent when manufacturing the product.  One would be able to prove this with your documented food safety system.
 
There are many different types of food safety management systems that can be implemented, depending on what your customer is requiring.  All of these systems are based on national and/or international guidelines and standards.  Your customer could require that you implement one of the following systems (by no means a complete list) - SANS 10049, GFSI (basic and Intermediate), SANS 10330 (South African HACCP System), FSSC 22000 (international HACCP System), BRC (British HACCP System), Local GAP, Global GAP (Agricultural systems) or NRCS Standards for fishing.  The above are not legal requirements (except NRCS for fishing companies) but are retailer/customer requirements.


Regulation 962 of the Foodstuff, Cosmetics and Disinfectants Act is a legal requirement for any food manufacturing/ packing/ storage/ distribution facility.  This regulation states that all premises that handle food that is intended for public consumption, need to be inspected by Environmental Health Practitioners from the local municipality who will issue a certificate of acceptability for the premises, should the requirements be adhered to.  If you are operating without this certificate, you are operating illegally.
 
PRP/HACCP
What is generally included in a documented food safety management system?  Let’s delve deeper into a basic system to see what it is about:


Personal Hygiene

Documented proof that staff are dressed as required in the facility, illnesses are recorded, use of gloves and plasters are recorded, PPE is properly cleaned, staff and visitors understand the hygiene rules of the facility.


Preventative Maintenance 

Regular planned preventative maintenance and proof that it is being done, proof that maintenance areas are cleared before production in the area restarts.


Cleaning and Sanitation

Planned cleaning and proof that cleaning is done as planned, staff trained in proper cleaning procedures, documented verification of cleaning procedures, foodgrade cleaning chemicals.


Traceability and recall 

Documented proof that you have traceability of all products within your facility - incoming raw materials, work in progress and final product.  You would need a recall team and annual proof that your recall system works properly (backwards and forwards traceability).

 

Process control 

Documented proof that all hazards that could possibly be introduced are controlled.

 

Allergen management

Proof that allergens in the facility are controlled to avoid cross contamination.  This refers to raw materials, work in progress and finished products.  The facility needs to demonstrate how allergens are being managed.


Training- there needs to be documented proof that all the staff working at the facility have at least gone through basic food safety training.  Documented assessments need to be conducted on delegates as proof that they have understood what has been trained.


Corrective and preventative action – this is central to the system.  All corrective action for non-conformances, customer complaints, out of spec microbiological analysis results need to be documented.  Preventative action for the identified problem also needs to be documented down.
Process flow and hazard analysis – step by step process of the manufacture of your product.  Hazards need to be identified at each step and control shown.  Raw materials also need to be risked and necessary controls applied.  This will eventually, as one moves into more involved food safety systems, become the HACCP study of the product.


As systems become more advanced, you could be required to implement policies, food defence plans, communication plans, internal and supplier auditing plans, sample retention plans and HACCP systems.


A basic system consists of documented processes for your pre requisite programmes or your good manufacturing practices.  This is being done to ensure that the food safety hazards in the facility are controlled.  One would need to run this system for a while, before venturing into implementing HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point).  The HACCP plan will analyse your hazards and those that are risked as significant would be taken through the study to find a CCP (critical control point).  If one does not have a good, well entrenched GMP/PRP system, your HACCP system will not be successful, as there would be many hazards risked as significant that would need CCP’s.
The key to the successful implementation is to ensure that management are committed to the process.  Management need to understand that implementing any food safety system takes time and staff need to be adequately trained, but the majority of companies, once they have successfully implemented a system, see the true value – more involved staff, increased of staff morale and the recording of processes so that manufacturing/facility problems can be adequately dealt with.

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 November 20, 2015
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Food Safety

Food Safety And The Bulk Transportation System

BY Estee de Villiers

The focus of food safety has always been on the supply chain from the crop to the table, but recently a huge gap in the supply chain has been identified - the bulk transportation of food stuffs. It has been identified that transporting food stuff in bulk containers have been overlooked and has never received the attention that it needs and that contamination during this stage of the supply chain is very likely to occur if measurements to prevent them is not considered.


The amount of transporting our food products from one supplier to the next supplier using bulk transportation has increased in the last couple of years. More and more companies rely on this method rather than small scale ingredient bags or containers. It has proven to be more efficient for production purposes as well as more cost effective, but with that being said, it also means that these transportation companies get a lot of pressure from their food manufacturing counter parts to deliver safe food and so have to also start and comply with certain food regulations and customer specifications. These bulk transportation companies are almost being treated now in the same manner as any food ingredient supplier and must also comply with food safety standards as specified by their customer.


The main areas of concern regarding food safety in this part of the supply chain is the actual cleaning of the tankers as well as foreign material contamination.


Cleaning of the tankers before and after use is of vital importance to ensure that contamination from one food stuff does not contaminate the food product being transported next in the same carrier or tanker. This is especially applicable to the transportation of allergen and non-allergenic products for instance milk products to oil products. Specialized inspections and procedures takes place on each tanker as well as all inlet and outlet valves, couplings, piping and any other part of the tanker that comes into direct contact with food stuff. This all takes place in order to verify that tankers are clean, free from chemicals and free from protein after each and every wash. Still, a lot of companies find this quite difficult to maintain and do get out of spec results quite often after verification, resulting in rewashing, retesting and therefor time waste. So, some companies have started to implement a complete and separate fleet that will just be used for the transportation of each specific food product. This lowers the risk and increases productivity time.


Another area of concern in the bulk transportation chain is foreign material control. This includes nuts and bolts, seals, broom bristles, cloths, bees and other various insects – to name only but a few that has been discovered at the off-loading area. This creates huge upset for the end user as their product will now be rejected, new product will have to be delivered which may cause a loss in production time and the overall transportations quality system is now in question.


To control these hazards, similar strategies than in the manufacturing industry has been implemented to try and manage contamination - from sifters to strainers, to proper seal control and issuing, but the number one method of prevention is to rather try and control the surrounding environment on a daily basis with Good Manufacturing Practices. This includes having proper preventative maintenance in place to ensure tankers are in a good state at all times and to ensure maintenance debris are all accounted for. Daily foreign material hunts will lower the risk of foreign material coming into contact with the inside of the tanker. Appropriate PPE for the wash bay attendants and inspectors will ensure no cross contamination takes place.


The above is just a few of the methods that we have used to help the bulk transportation companies in complying to their customers wants and needs regarding food safety and quality. Ask yourself the question - Do you know who transports your product? Do they adhere to your food safety standards??

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 October 20, 2015
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Food Safety

What Type of System To Implement?

BY Gerda Britz

After a recent visit to the hospital I started wondering how do they control food safety, what type of systems does the kitchen have in place? In an environment where you are already vulnerable, you put all your trust in the people preparing your food. What systems do they have in place to prevent a food poisoning incident?


This made me think what type of food safety management systems can a caterer or restaurant owner implement to help manage food safety risks? And what do they have in place already?
Delivering safe food and up to their clients quality requirements is essential for business success, however also means that the caterer or restaurant will only achieve this by gaining support from the entire organization.  It requires good manufacturing practices, having well trained and dedicated staff, standardized working instructions and effective controls. 


Over the past decade more focus has been placed in integrated quality management systems, which includes all steps in the food chain.  Systems that allow an organization to be proactive rather than reactive when it comes to food safety. Also by being proactive it allows an organization to continuously be innovative. These innovations allow a company to focus on improving quality and raise awareness throughout the supply chain.


Standards that can be implemented in a catering environment include HACCP, ISO 22000:2005, ISO 9001, HACCP, Codex etc.


There is also system like ISO 15161:2001 that is a guideline for food and beverage companies that want to implement ISO 9001. It also illustrates the interaction between a quality management system and HACCP.  According to this standard, food safety is considered a part of quality.

 

However, certification by ISO 15161:2001 was not possible, and businesses in the food industry were certified according to ISO 9001 instead. The standard was later revised by ISO 22000 with the aim to ensure quality of all aspects of food production; its goal is continuous improvement of food safety processes. The standard is a more procedurally oriented than principally based and the ISO 22001 guidelines were developed for the application of ISO 9001 instead of ISO 15161:2001.

 

ISO 22000 is a generic Food Safety Management system that can be implemented by any business in the food industry.  It combines HACCP and pre requisite programmes to determine a strategy to be used to control hazards.  

 

There are also several food safety guidance notes, British Retail Consortium (BRC), GlobalGAP, Safe Qualtiy food (SQF), FSSC 22000 etc. 

Send us an email to if you would like some assistance to implement a FSMS at your facility.
 

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 October 13, 2015
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Food Safety

GLOBALG.A.P.

BY Christine Rammutla

Agriculture is the root source of food that consumers put on their tables, so Food Safety and quality start at farm level. Now the question is how do we measure Food Safety at farm level? Well, there are standards such as the localg.a.p and GLOBALG.A.P. that help farmer to comply with Good Agricultural Practices, this standards also apply in South Africa.


GLOBALG.A.P has introduced a new Version 5 for All Farm Base – Crop Base and Fruit and Vegetables which is valid from 1 July 2015 and obligatory from 1 July 2016.


What is GLOBALG.A.P.?
GLOBALG.A.P is the internationally recognized standard for farm production. The main goal for the standard is to have a safe and sustainable agricultural production to benefit farmers, retailers and consumers throughout the world.

 

GLOBALG.A.P. Certification covers:

  • Food safety and traceability
  • Environment (including biodiversity)
  • Workers’ health, safety and welfare
  • Animal welfare
  • Includes Integrated Crop Management (ICM), Integrated Pest Control (IPC),
  • Quality Management System (QMS), and Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP)

The standard demands, among other things, greater efficiency in production. It improves business performance and reduces waste of vital resources. It also requires a general approach to farming that builds in best practices for generations to come.


In recent years, South Africa has seen an increasing number of emerging farmers from previously disadvantaged backgrounds that are new to the farming environment and some have seen their produce being rejected from retail market because of lack of having food safety systems in place; thus without certification, producers have difficulties accessing local and regional markets.
Farmer that needs to be GLOBALG.A.P certified, first have to implement the localg.a.p program. The program is a tool that offers GLOBALG.A.P. retail and food service members the opportunity to initiate a food safety program in order to prepare their suppliers for GLOBALG.A.P. certification. It is there for a stepping stone toward certification. It is a cost-effective solution for emerging markets and helps producers gain gradual recognition by providing an entry level to GLOBALG.A.P. certification.
Why should you go for localg.a.p.

  • Establish the foundation to achieve GLOBALG.A.P. certification through a stepwise improvement plan
  • Reduce your exposure to food safety risks
  • Improve your traceability and reassure your buyers using your LGN, your unique 13-digit localg.a.p. Number that identifies you in the GLOBALG.A.P. Database
  • Access local and regional markets through a local program based on the globally recognized GLOBALG.A.P. Certification System
  • Improve the efficiency of your farm management
  • Comply with legislation on food safety and proper hygiene

Why should you go for GLOBALG.A.P Vision 5 All Farm Base – Crop Base and Fruit and Vegetables,

  • It helps retailers gain access to quality foods
  • Support local and regional producers
  • Promote Good Agricultural Practice
  • Improve your traceability and reassure your buyers using your GGN, your unique 13-digit GLOBALG.A.P. Number that identifies you in the GLOBALG.A.P. Database

Contact us on 041 366 1970/80 or Christine 082 849 3502 to find out how we can assist.

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 October 13, 2015
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Food Safety

Food Safety Management Systems –are they really needed?

BY Angela Jordan

You have been managing your business for many years, you have reliable staff who know what they are doing, surely with all this expertise you do not need a documented food safety management system to be implemented.  Think again.
 
Retailers have been putting pressure on businesses to have a documented food safety management system in place, with never ending expensive audits and findings that urgently need to be resolved, endless procedures, records, checklists, standard operating procedures and matrices that need to be completed and updated.  Rest assured, they are not attempting to make you a puppet on their string, they are protecting the consumers, themselves and your business.
 
The Consumer Protection Act was promulgated in 2008, making South African citizens one of the most protected groups in the world.  Due to the implications of this act, this documented system is now a retailer requirement as proof that the products being sold to consumers at retail stores, contain no hazards which may harm the consumer.  Should the supplier be found to be a repeat offender, they can be sued up to R1 million or 10% of their turnover.  How could one prevent this?  By having documented proof that all aspects of your manufacturing, from receiving and storage of the raw material, to the manufacturing of the product, to the distribution of the product are adhering to food safety requirements.  Another important point to remember is that, before the Act came into being, the consumer (who was harmed from eating your product) had to somehow prove that the manufacturer was negligent in the manufacture of the product, which was virtually impossible.  Now the onus is on the manufacturer to prove that they were not negligent when manufacturing the product.  One would be able to prove this with your documented food safety system.
 
There are many different types of food safety management systems that can be implemented, depending on what your customer is requiring.  All of these systems are based on national and/or international guidelines and standards.  Your customer could require that you implement one of the following systems (by no means a complete list) - SANS 10049, GFSI (basic and Intermediate), SANS 10330 (South African HACCP System), FSSC 22000 (international HACCP System), BRC (British HACCP System), Local GAP, Global GAP (Agricultural systems) or NRCS Standards for fishing.  The above are not legal requirements (except NRCS for fishing companies) but are retailer/customer requirements.


Regulation 962 of the Foodstuff, Cosmetics and Disinfectants Act is a legal requirement for any food manufacturing/ packing/ storage/ distribution facility.  This regulation states that all premises that handle food that is intended for public consumption, need to be inspected by Environmental Health Practitioners from the local municipality who will issue a certificate of acceptability for the premises, should the requirements be adhered to.  If you are operating without this certificate, you are operating illegally.
 
PRP/HACCP
What is generally included in a documented food safety management system?  Let’s delve deeper into a basic system to see what it is about.


Personal Hygiene – documented proof that staff are dressed as required in the facility, illnesses are recorded, use of gloves and plasters are recorded, PPE is properly cleaned, staff and visitors understand the hygiene rules of the facility


Preventative Maintenance – regular planned preventative maintenance and proof that it is being done, proof that maintenance areas are cleared before production in the area restarts.


Cleaning and Sanitation – planned cleaning and proof that cleaning is done as planned, staff trained in proper cleaning procedures, documented verification of cleaning procedures, foodgrade cleaning chemicals


Traceability and recall – documented proof that you have traceability of all products within your facility - incoming raw materials, work in progress and final product.  You would need a recall team and annual proof that your recall system works properly (backwards and forwards traceability)
Process control – documented proof that all hazards that could possibly be introduced are controlled.


Allergen management – proof that allergens in the facility are controlled to avoid cross contamination.  This refers to raw materials, work in progress and finished products.  The facility needs to demonstrate how allergens are being managed.


Training- there needs to be documented proof that all the staff working at the facility have at least gone through basic food safety training.  Documented assessments need to be conducted on delegates as proof that they have understood what has been trained.


Corrective and preventative action – this is central to the system.  All corrective action for non-conformances, customer complaints, out of spec microbiological analysis results need to be documented.  Preventative action for the identified problem also needs to be documented down.
Process flow and hazard analysis – step by step process of the manufacture of your product.  Hazards need to be identified at each step and control shown.  Raw materials also need to be risked and necessary controls applied.  This will eventually, as one moves into more involved food safety systems, become the HACCP study of the product.


As systems become more advanced, you could be required to implement policies, food defence plans, communication plans, internal and supplier auditing plans, sample retention plans and HACCP systems.


A basic system consists of documented processes for your pre requisite programmes or your good manufacturing practices.  This is being done to ensure that the food safety hazards in the facility are controlled.  One would need to run this system for a while, before venturing into implementing HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point).  The HACCP plan will analyse your hazards and those that are risked as significant would be taken through the study to find a CCP (critical control point).  If one does not have a good, well entrenched GMP/PRP system, your HACCP system will not be successful, as there would be many hazards risked as significant that would need CCP’s.

 

The key to the successful implementation is to ensure that management are committed to the process.  Management need to understand that implementing any food safety system takes time and staff need to be adequately trained, but the majority of companies, once they have successfully implemented a system, see the true value – more involved staff, increased of staff morale and the recording of processes so that manufacturing/facility problems can be adequately dealt with.
 
 

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 September 18, 2015
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Food Safety

Supplier Quality Assurance - Manage the dangers of buying from strangers

BY Rolf Uys

Supplier Quality Assurance is an integral part of a Food Safety Management System. It includes how to select and approve suppliers and it stipulated what proof we need from them be it COAs/COCs, certification, reputation. It also focuses on what is required from packaging material suppliers, chemical suppliers, lubricant suppliers, pest control and other outsourced suppliers. One also need to monitor the performance of these suppliers. So how is a SQA program structured and how can we ensure we buy safe ingredients from our suppliers?

Entecom announces their new one day course on Supplier Quality Assurance. Learn from Rolf how to structure a SQA program to reduce the risk of purchasing unsafe ingredients from suppliers.

 

The following will be covered:

- What is Supplier Quality Assurance?
- What are the benefits to my company?
- Understanding supplier audits.
- The jokers in tlle pack: agents and overseas suppliers
- How to practically Implement a SQA program.

 

About the presenter: Rolf Uys will lead the course and has 15 years of international experience in Food Safety auditing and training.


Places are limited. Please book your place now to avoid disappointment. Contact aileen@entecom.co.za for more info.

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 September 17, 2015
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Food Safety

Engineering and Maintenance’s role in Food Safety

BY Rolf Uys

When I present food safety training, I always note the job functions that attend. It off course, depends on the training course itself but in general I find that there would be only about 1 maintenance personnel for every 10 Quality and 10 Production personnel that attend. The explanation is always that they are too busy. Its seems as if Quality can be put on hold for training, but not Maintenance. Yet, maintenance personnel are very intimately involved in food safety and often are the leading contributor to food safety incidents. Consider the incident in 2006 at a UK chocolate manufacturer where a pipe leak led to Salmonella contamination and a R260M recall. Or the 2009 scare at Jensen farms melon processors in the USA where 25 people died from Listeria due to poor drainage and poor cleaning. Locally, during my years of being an auditor, I have seen many maintenance originated foreign material complaints. Interestingly, it’s often just after the annual factory maintenance shutdown. It sometimes feels one can re-stock the maintenance stores with all the nuts bolts and other maintenance items that comes back from the customers.


In South Africa, we have the added difficulty that most food processing equipment is manufactured overseas. When the exchange rate against the weak Rand is factored in, good, hygienic equipment comes almost unaffordable. One of two things happen. Either equipment is ran well past its shelf life and it starts deteriorating, or less inferior “home made” equipment/ lines are put together that does not necessarily conform to modern food safety requirements. Its not just the equipment itself, it’s the spares and fittings as well. There are food safe and non-food safe transfer pipes, gaskets, seals, filters etc. that need to be considered. Either way, food safety needs to be planned from the design stages. There should be a formal program for designing, commissioning or modifying food processing equipment in a way that food safety is not compromised. The reality is very few companies have such a system.


A further “disease” in our food industry is the neglect of preventive maintenance because of production pressures. Most of the food processors I know, would typically run non-stop for one, sometimes two weeks and then do preventive maintenance on only a Saturday and Sunday. The precious little time available is then also shared with cleaning, training and other functions that can only be done when the line is standing. Small and medium food processors generally do not do preventive maintenance. They run the factory until something breaks. There would typically be a checklist were equipment is supposed to be inspected pro-actively. But because maintenance personnel are caught up with other things, this is generally not done properly and the facility lapses into reactive maintenance. The problem with reactive maintenance is that it becomes a viscous cycle. Maintenance personnel get in a spiral of trying to get ahead of breakdown jobs that there is no time for preventive maintenance. With a significant effect on food safety.


In order to manage any problem, one needs to measure it. If your facility has any of the problems mentioned above, step one is to measure it. Put measures in place to calculate cost of reactive maintenance. This may include labour cost, parts cost, down time cost, etc. Get a Rand figure per month, per year. Offset that cost against employing a maintenance planner, buying preventive maintenance software and allocating time to plan. You will be amazed by how many salaries can be paid by preventing one serious breakdown. The days are over of having a roaming handyman for reactive maintenance. A modern food factory that is serious about food safety should have a well-planned, coordinated strategy, that is part of its business objectives.


Once equipment design and preventive maintenance systems are in place, this will buy time for maintenance personnel to be more strategic. For planning better and not “fighting fires” the whole day. Hopefully this would also free up some time to attend training sessions, so maintenance mistakes could be prevented in the first place.


How can Entecom help you? We have a very practical training course that covers, equipment design, preventive maintenance and the role of the maintenance personnel in a food safety program. Ask us at rolf@entecom.co.za or clarice@entecom.co.za

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 August 27, 2015
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Food Safety

Factors influencing safe food handling for restaurants

BY Merle Litshie

When food manufacturer’s (factories) manufacture food they ensure there are food safety systems in place and that the food is safe for consumption. These precautions are taken to ensure nobody is harmed. Food safety should not end after distribution and food should continue to be safe. The following should be taken into consideration when ensuring food is handled safely.

Raw material inspection

a. Check for expired goods as they are received
b. Inspect vehicle delivering goods for cleanliness, pests and foul odours
c. Ensure to purchase from approved suppliers (previously audited)
d. Allergens should be managed separately from non-allergens
e. Inspect if there is dirty and damaged packaging – reject goods if any


Storage

a. FIFO (First IN First Out) must be practices and have a system in place
b. Cleaning and sanitation is crucial for storage areas
c. All temperature sensitive products should be stored as per temperature requirements


Processing/Cooking

a. Employees handling food must adhere to good personnel hygiene
b. Hand washing and glove management is crucial, dirty hands have bacterial and the glove does not kill the bacteria but spread it
c. Ensure preparation areas are segregated and grouped accordingly
d. Keep phones away from food as they too carry bacteria
e. Equipment especially heating and cooling equipment must be serviced and calibrated as per schedule


Serving

Ensure food is cooked and cooled to the correct temperature and heated food must be held hot while cooled food should be kept cold at the correct required temperatures
In conclusion food safety is very possible in restaurants and what makes it difficult to achieve is the following:
- Lack of staff training and assumptions that employees will catch up
- Inadequate equipment (un serviced and un calibrated)
- Lack of measuring devices such as thermometers and gauges
- Not having adequate workplace (encourages cross contamination)
- Lack of pest control
- Time pressure from management and customers
- Inadequate staff members

 

If all these factors are taken into consideration, then the restaurant will be handling and serving food safely.

Entecom is a memeber of Restaurant Association of South Africa (RASA)

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 August 21, 2015
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Food Safety

GLOBALG.A.P. CAPACITY BUILDING & FARM ASSURER WORKSHOP - CROPS | Fruit & Vegetables

BY Mtho Moyo

Download.

 

Dates: 15 - 17 September 2015

 

Venue: (Midrand, Gauteng)

 

Only two seats available!


Contact mtho@entecom.co.za to book a spot.

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 July 22, 2015
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Food Safety

Time to beef up your Raw Material Risk assessment

BY Janice Giddy

A number of food scandals over the years such as the Sudan 1 adulteration, melamine addition to high-protein feed and milk-based products to artificially inflate protein values in products that may have been diluted and now more recently the cumin adulteration with peanuts incident, have had huge ramifications in the food industry. The need to beef up the raw material risk assessment to include not only the identification of potential allergen contamination, foreign-body risks, microbiological contamination but also the need to include the risk of food adulteration or substitution as well has come under the spotlight. This means that the food safety team should research historical and developing threats to the supply chain and then conduct a vulnerability assessment on all food raw materials. Take a look at this link for more statistics on food fraud and categories of food affected here.


The GFSI (Global Food Safety Initiative) definition for Food Fraud is: “Food Fraud: A collective term encompassing the deliberate and intentional substitution, addition, tampering or misrepresentation of food, food ingredients or food packaging, labelling, product information or false or misleading statements made about a product for economic gain that could impact consumer health. (Reference: Spink, J. & Moyer, DC (2011) Journal of Food Science, 76(9), 157-163.)”


The BRC Global Standard for Food Safety vs 7,Clause 5.4.2 requires that a vulnerability assessment is carried out on all food raw materials and takes the following into account:
- Historical evidence of substitution or adulteration
- Economic factors which may make adulteration or substitution more attractive
- Ease of access to raw material throughout the supply chain
- Sophistication of routine testing to identify adulterants
- Nature of the raw material


Where a risk of adulteration or substitution has been identified, the particular raw material will need to be subjected to appropriate inspections or testing to ensure that the risk is reduced.
The GFSI Food Fraud Think Tank has introduced new assessment terminology which should be addressed within the umbrella of the Food Safety Management system. These new terms are TACCP (Threat/Food Defence) and VACCP (Vulnerability/Food Fraud). 


The GFSI Guidance Document vs 7 will be published in 2016 and will include the requirements for Food Fraud Prevention.


ENTECOM will be presenting a workshop to provide practical guidance as to implement the TACCP and VACCP requirements. For more information please contact info@entecom.co.za

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 July 09, 2015
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Food Safety

The dangers of cooking oil

BY Angela Jordan

It would be ideal to utilise new cooking oil each time a product is fried, but this is not economically viable for the manufacturing and hospitality industries. We know that utilising old oil is bad for one’s health. Let us explore why old oil is bad for your health and what steps can be taken to ensure that the oil that you utilise is still safe.


After repeated use, cooking oil becomes rancid, which means that the oil could contain carcinogenic free radicles. The oil undergoes chemical changes when exposed to heat and light. These changes can cause potentially harmful substances to be released into the oil. The rate of breakdown would depend on the type of oil – the higher the unsaturated fats, the higher the rate of breakdown.


According to South African regulation 1316 ‘Edible fats and oils used for frying foods are deemed harmful or injurious to human health, unless they contain less than 16% polymerised triglycerides and less than 25% polar components’.


Many of us do not have access to test kits to determine when cooking oil is past its safety use time. There are some easy tell tail signs to when oil should be replaced:
- foam on top surface
- Inability to reach frying temperature without smoking
- dark, dirty look
- musty aroma

 

There are some test strips and kits available that test the free fatty acids and total polar materials in oil to determine when it should be disposed of.


How many times can cooking oil be reused? Unfortunately this cannot be quantified, as it depends on the type of oil used, the product being fried, frying utensil and frying temperatures.

 

Helpful tips for oil reuse:
- Shake off excess batter before frying
- Do not fry foods at over 190C. Frying over this temperature can increase levels of 4-hydroxyl-2-trans-nonenal in oil. This is a toxic substance which can increase the risks of strokes, atherosclerosis, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and various liver diseases.


- Turn off heat after cooking
How would one discard used cooking oil? It would not be advisable to discard cooking oil down the drain. The best option would be for it to be recycled. Used cooking oil can be used to make biodiesel fuel.


For additional information on used cooking oil, have a look at the following helpful site: myoilguide.ufs.ac.za 

 

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 July 09, 2015
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Food Safety

Organisational Culture & Change

BY Gerda Britz

‘Everybody by now has accepted that change is unavoidable. But that still implies that change is like death and taxes – it should be postponed as long as possible and no change would be vastly preferable’ – Peter Ducker.

In all my years as a food safety auditor nothing is more frustrating that returning to a shop, manufacturing plant, restaurant etc, just to write the same report as I did previously. I often wondered why. Then I realised that if the culture within these organisations does not change, nothing will change. That made me think, how can you change the corporate culture within a corporation to a food safety culture?

Is it a question of what we have is perhaps more valuable than what it actually is? In a classic book by Spencer Johnson, “Who moved my cheese”, the main two characters, Hem and Haw could not comprehend that anything can be better than what they currently have, so much that it became more and more difficult to even think of exploring the maze for new cheese.

To be able to change corporate culture I think it best to define it first. Corporate culture can be defined as patterns of accepted behaviour, and the beliefs and values that promote and reinforce them. To elaborate on that a bit more, patterns of acceptable behaviour are things that are OK to do. Beliefs are what I think is true and values are what are important to me, personally. We can now see that people’s hopes, dreams and fears can have a major impact on their job performance.

During my research on this topic I came across a very recent article In the Food Safety Magazine (authors Crandall, O’Bryan, Neal and Delery) that gives a few pointers on how to create a food safety culture within our organizations. In this article they describe that although there are a growing body of information on about 14 pathogens, very little understanding exists about how people contaminate food, PEOPLE MAKE PEOPLE SICK. People remain the major source of contamination of foodborne illnesses. They found that this can the contributed to a few points:

  • Employees work sick, mostly because they are paid per hour, and hours off sick means less pay.
  • Poor personal hygiene.
  • Inadequate cleaning of equipment or not following correct food preparation practices.

Although most regulations mandate food safety training, how is training turned into action? How do leaders and managers turn training into practice? While there are many answers to these questions, three are the most important: employee comprehension, communication and leaders willing to take action. Comprehension requires an environment that encourages communication, both from workers and leaders. If an employee is given the opportunity to express an opinion that will be heard and may make a difference in the decision making, a strong food safety culture that allows for open dialogue can be created.
 
It is not only important that employees are trained and assessed, but that they are motivated to learn. It is also important to understand the each person learns in a different way and to understand that, so that the trainer is best able to choose the suitable methods to train persons best.
 
It is also important that management creates an environment where employees are capable of their best sustained performance. Three ways of doing this is when employees possess the abilities, knowledge and skills to perform their jobs above expectations, when they are motivated and are given the freedom and opportunity.
 
How do we adapt best practice to make long term changes in employees’ behaviour? Begin with end in mind (Stepen Covey). Set realistic goals that are understandable and with realistic time lines. Write measurable individual learning objectives. Research has shown that high expectations coupled with high care for employees’ increases their commitment to company goals. Especially when employee ‘buy in’ is achieved.
 
So in conclusion food safety is everyone’s responsibility. From the factory worker on the floor to top management, we need to protect the safety of our consumer, goodwill and reputation of the food industry. We can achieve this by hiring the best employees available, motivating and training them properly and verifying that they are complying with the prescribed behaviour.
 
Source: Food safety magazine June/July 2015, Best Practices for making long term Changes in Behaviour, Authors Crandall, O’Bryan, Neal, Delery.

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 July 01, 2015
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Food Safety

Logo, Lingos and Labels

BY Clarice Oelofse

Today we are talking about supplements...
 
The Dietary Health Education Act (DSHEA) which was passed in America in 1994, defined a dietary supplement as a product (other than tobacco) that:

  • Is intended to supplement the diet
  • Contains one or more dietary ingredients (including vitamins, minerals herbs or other botanicals, amino acids and other substances) or their constituents
  • Is intended to be taken by mouth as a pill, capsule, tablet or liquid and
  • Is labelled on the front panel as being a dietary supplement

Unlike drugs, products that fell into this category could be marketed and sold without having to undergo a rigorous process of research, pre-market review and approval by the FDA (the Federal Agency in the USA that oversees both drugs and supplements, equivalent to the MCC or Medicines Control Council in South Africa). The manufacturer thus became responsible for proving that its products are safe and that the label claims are truthful and not misleading.
  
Don’t be fooled by sales talk such as “It is natural & safe”. Herbal supplements are not any more effective or safe than unnatural ones, and herbals sometimes naturally contain active ingredients that interact with each other or with medications.
 
Logos
Several independent organisations quality test products and provide their logos (seals of approval) if products pass these tests. Although the logo states that the product has been tested for prohibited substances, it is important to know to what extent batches were tested.
 
Labels
South Africa does not currently provide a system which regulates what tolerance for discrepancy is allowed in respect of labelling of products such as this. In the premises, it is submitted that the parameters set out by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) may be of assistance. The FDA’s Guidance for Industry: Nutrition Labelling Manual – A Guide for Developing and Using Data Bases is a guidance document written by the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition at the FDA. It assists industry in the task of preparing nutrient information for labels and labelling that meet the requirements of FDA regulations.
 
Sometimes ingredients are disguised by the use of pseudonyms. For example geranium might be methylexanamine, methylsynephrine is oxilofrine, ma huang is a plant source of ephedra, citrus aurantium is a source of synephrine and Acacia rigidula may contain phenpreomethylamine.

Decoding the labels - watch out for these red flags on labels:

  • Cures or treats or prevents disease - It is illegal for supplements to make health claims
  • Real Results, Fast! - No magic in a bottle, no quick fixes
  • Proprietary Blend - Secretive strategy of not declaring individual ingredients – may contain trace amounts of cheap fillers

In spite of the FDA making the statements that "dietary supplements are products intended to supplement the diet" and that "they are not drugs and, therefore, are not intended to treat, diagnose, mitigate, prevent, or cure diseases" many supplements are sold on the premise of being both powerfully beneficial (with drug-like side effects) and harmless.
 
This raises an important question: "If a substance has powerful effects, surely it should be regarded as a drug" (Fontanorosa et al: 2003). 
 
The MCC has proposed an additional category, ‘health supplement’, to be included in the definition of a complementary medicine. This category requires to comply with parameters that were to be furnished in a guideline, that would define the requirements for the claims for efficacy, quality, safety, etc. This has now been formally released. This document, released on the 20th November, is a draft released for comment by 26 February 2015.
 
The purpose of this Guideline is to provide clear guidance with regard to the quality, safety and efficacy (QSE) requirements for registration of Health Supplements as a subset of complementary medicines in South Africa. The intent of this document is to ensure that the levels of evidence for QSE are rigorous enough to protect public health and maintain consumer confidence, while providing a clearly defined pathway to register health supplements.
 
The document is available here.
 
Sources:
www.camcheck.co.za
Supplements: Help, hype or hindrance (Module 1: Introduction)
 
p.s. FACTS is presenting a Labelling Workshop in Port Elizabeth on 14 July 2015. Cost is R1 500 pp ex VAT. Contact info@entecom.co.za for more information.

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 July 01, 2015
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Food Safety

Heads up: Latest scare in the spice industry

BY Rolf Uys

In South Africa, we had numerous food safety incidents of Sudan Red, a carcinogenic industrial chemical being added to food. This occurred in 2005, 2007 and again in 2014. Then there was the saga of Melamine being added to milk powder in 2009. Now, the latest scare is that Cumin spice has been adulterated with peanuts. We all know that peanuts could be deadly for allergic consumers. The impact in the food industry is massive. It’s not only the cumin spice itself, but all the products it is added to. Meat, poultry, even home care products such as body scrubs and lotions. Countries affected so far are USA, Canada and Europe. It has also been detected by South African companies testing their cumin stocks.

 

It appears that this originated in Gujarat, India, one of the main Cumin producing areas in the world. They experienced a significant crop failure due to extreme head conditions. This prompted some processors to mix ground peanut shells and peanuts into cumin to save costs.


So, food manufacturers, heads up if you use any form of cumin. Test your raw materials, review your supply chain and revise your HACCP plan. Worrying is the fact that adulteration of foods will probably occur again in future in the food industry. There will be extreme weather somewhere else in the world and there will be unscrupulous players that falsify their foodstuffs to save a few dollars.

 

Entecom is presenting a Supplier Quality Assurance Course next week and if you hurry up you can still get a place. We will be discussing all the relevant systems that could be implemented to defend against future incidents such as this. To book a place contact estee@entecom.co.za.


Source: allergicliving

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 May 07, 2015
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Food Safety

R. 364 (Replacing R962)

BY Clarice Oelofse

This is the published draft Regulations Governing General Hygien Requirements For Food Premises, the Transportation of Food & Related Matters which replaces the current R962.

 

Get it here.

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 May 05, 2015
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Food Safety

Are you serving more than just food?

BY Merle Litshie

No jokes.

 

When you do not have any food safety system nor follow food safety regulations – you will most definitely be serving more than just food. Having a food safety system in place allows any food manufacturer including restaurants to minimize chances of microorganisms.


Food handlers are usually the carriers and spreaders of microorganisms through personnel hygiene or their operational methods. Microorganisms such as E.coli, Listeria, Salmonella and many more can easily grow in a kitchen or processing area if employees do not adhere to food safety.

 

Easy ways to prevent cross-contamination:

  • Hands and surfaces must be washed and sanitised regularly as bacterial can often spread throughout kitchen or processing area and get into cutting boards, utensils and counter tops
  • Hands washed before and after handling food
  • Use clean warm to hot water with soap to clean surfaces (remember to sanitise)
  • Use colour coded utensils and equipment so as to separate raw meats, raw vegetables, allergens etc. (use different colour for fresh produce, different colour for poultry, different colour for seafood)

 

Various microorganisms you could find in your kitchen or processing area:

 

Salmonella
Found in undercooked eggs, poultry and meat raw fruits and vegetables, unpasteurized milk and dairy products. Infected food handler can transport via hands if not washed properly after using bathroom and after handling affected food.

 

Staphylococcus aureus
Foods that are handled by hand and do not require further processing such as salads, ham, tuna, chicken, bakery products, sandwiches are most common to have Staphylococcus survive on them due to no heating prcess.

 

E.coli
Humans and animals have E.coli in the intestines therefore if proper hand washing is not practiced after leaving the toilet, chances of spreading E.coli are very high. This bacterial does survive in meat if meat is not cooked above 71°C. Found in raw milk (cows udder contaminated), raw fruits and vegetable, water (lakes and rivers), soil and many more. E.coli can spread from infected persons hands (after infected person does not wash hands properly after bowel movements) to equipment, raw food, surfaces etc.

 

Listeria
Found mostly in refrigerated ready to eat foods such as vienna’s, deli meats, unpasteurized milk and dairy products, raw materials as well as undercooked meat, poultry and seafood. Also found in drains cooling units.
To ensure you do not serve more than just food: Follow three easy steps


Remember to:

  • wash and sanitise hands
  • use clean water to wash food
  • use clean water to clean equipment and surfaces.

 

That’s the food safety way...

 

Contact us on 041 366 1970 or Merle (who helped us with this article! - 082 947 4395) to find out what debugging food safety options are available.

 

You can also contact Food Chain Laboratories for specific mico testing.

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 March 02, 2015
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Food Safety

GLOBALG.A.P. for Food Safety and Sustenance 

BY Mtho Moyo

Farmers are often described as “the Salt of the earth”, which by the way is very fitting.


What would we eat if there were no Farmers? It would mean we would all be farmers one way or the other, to feed our families, but would we all want to all farm! Farming is no chicken feed, excuse the pan.


Food Safety can also be summed up as “Farm to Fork”. This is because Food safety starts right at the farm and ends up as nutrition or poison into our mouths for our bodies. As you can imagine farmers have a bigger responsibility to not just provide us with enough food but to ensure that the food is safe for our consumption. What could possibly go wrong in the food in the farm that cannot be cooked out of the food, we might ask? After all Man having been farming since Adam and Even were banished from the Garden of Eden and people survived just fine, they just died of hunger not because the food was bad. So what has changed?


Technology has come up with magnificent things as well as some negative side effects. There is extensive use of fertilizers, pesticides and other plant protection products to maximize on productivity and to add salt to injury, microorganisms seem to be multiplying and becoming more and more resistant to treatments. So what are we to do?


Thanks to GLOBALG.A.P. it’s not all gloom and doom. GLOBALG.A.P. is the internationally recognized standard for farm production. The goal is safe and sustainable agricultural production to benefit farmers, retailers and consumers throughout the world.

 

  • Reduce food safety risks in primary production
  • Clear HACCP based Risk Assessment
  • Technical communication platform for continual improvement & transparency through consultation across entire food chain.
  • Reduce cost due to multiple audits
  • Global harmonisation
  • Access local and regional markets through a local program based on the globally recognized GLOBALG.A.P. Certification System.
  • Improve the efficiency of your farm management.
  • Comply with legislation on food safety and proper hygiene.


Implementation of GLOBALG.A.P. does not mean that farmers have to down their tool and focus on paperwork and training. As we can see from the benefits listed above it should be used as a tool to make life better for the farmers and consumers. Granted the initial work required will look like Mount Kilimanjaro, but the benefits by far out-weigh the initial trouble. The other option is to start with the implementation of the localg.a.p. system which is incremental towards the implementation of the GLOBALG.A.P. The GLOBALG.A.P. Integrated Farm Assurance (IFA) Standard consists of General Rules and Control Points and Compliance Criteria (CPCC.).

 

The requirements for GLOBALG.A.P. and localg.a.p. can all be downloaded free of charge from the GLOBALG.A.P. website - www.globalgap.org

 

Download version 5 (Draft).

 

If the work is still too much why not contact an approved Farm Assurer, who will take you through the requirements step by step?
And yes it would be our absolute pleasure to help in any which way we can. At Entecom we can assist with both localg.a.p. and GLOBALG.A.P. implementation. Contact us for quotation (at no extra charge).

 

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 February 23, 2015
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Food Safety

Food Safety - Should we demand it?

BY Aileen Uys

Just like the standard of electricity supply in our country, the standard of food safety is simply not up to scratch, and not on a world class standard. The problem doesn’t so much lie at the large multi national food producers or the exporters. They have a brand to protect and tend to understand the need to comply. The real food safety problems are hidden in the restaurant, catering, small factory and informal sectors of the food industry.


How often does one go to say a farm stall and buy a product without any sell-by dates or allergen declarations, despite their being newly implemented laws on the matter? How regularly is one totally underwhelmed by the quality of well-known reputable restaurants ? Once in a while, one does get sick from something one ate. One would try to piece together what it was and then give up because no one is interested and wants to take responsibility. Try to go to the local fast food joint and tell them you got sick from the burger you ate yesterday, and see how far you get.


The first part of the problem is in the ignorance of the owners of these smaller food operations. They generally fail to realise the massive responsibility it takes to make food for others. They underestimate the risk of being mediocre in terms of food safety. They fail to train and educate their food operators properly. Washing of hands, maintaining the cold chain, dating items in the fridge or only ensuring the perfect plate of food goes out to the customer isn’t something that happens automatically. It needs to be trained. The workers need to understand the basics behind food safety and quality. The common response I get when I ask factory or shop owners about training is “ Why do I have to train my workers if I don’t have to?“
The second part of the problem is that we have excellently constructed, but poorly policed laws. It is in fact a law that one has to train one’s food workers. It can be found in many places including regulation 962. But nobody told Mr. Small Food Producer or Mrs. Farm stall owner about R 962 and nobody has ever properly inspected him/her to that standard.


The only real practical solution to increase the level of food safety, is to create awareness at consumer level. Consumers should demand that there is a sell by date on the farm stall jam, or an allergen statement on the market rusks or question the restaurant owner whether the sauce with the strange smell was made fresh. They need to ask questions about training and conforming to laws. Hopefully if the consumer applies the pressure and demands only safe good quality food, the business owners will start understanding the need for complying and the overall standards can be raised. As for the electricity crisis , unfortunately I can’t help…

 

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 February 10, 2015
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Food Safety

South African Food Recalls – What does the Department of Health Have to Say?

BY Angela Jordan

Following on from our September 2014 article, from our Western Cape branch, with regards to the lack of recalls in South African, let’s see what the National Department of Health has to say about the matter. As stated in the article, there were only about 6 recalls a year in South Africa, generally all by large corporations. As I am sure you can imagine, with many companies lacking adequate recall systems, having untrained staff and wanting to avoid the publicity, many ‘should be’ recalls are in fact swept under the carpet. Let’s explore what the National Department of Health has to say about the recalling of food products in South Africa.


In June 2004, ‘Policy Guidelines on National Food Safety Alerts and Official Food Product Recalls in South Africa’ was released. These guidelines came about as a result of an incident in February 2002 where 2 children died from botulism poisoning after consuming a canned food product. The Department of Health decided that there was a need to streamline the co ordination between the departments involved in food control.


According to the policy, national food safety alerts refers to steps taken by the national health authority aimed at informing consumers of a potential or real health risk deriving from a specific foodstuff that could still be available at food outlets or homes of consumers. A food safety alert may, in some instances, be followed by a food product recall. Industry may voluntarily issue a food safety alert requesting consumers to return the product. If industry fails to issue an alert, the National Health Authority may issue a national food safety alert, with the provincial and local level of governments being notified. The Department will also issue a media release.


The policy then goes on to define specific procedures that should be followed during an official food product recall. These include

1. identifying if there is a need for the recall

2.  convening of a committee and issuing instructions

3.  notifying the public


The Foodstuffs, Cosmetics and Disinfectants Act prevents any person from selling food that is unfit for human consumption, but there is no legislation that directly forces any food business to initiate a recall.


How can one be guaranteed that the necessary information will get to the National Department of Health, timeously, for an alert to be issued, if not done so by the company themselves? Good to have a national policy in place, but this does not make me as a consumer feel any safer. All companies, not just some, should know about the effects of not recalling a harmful product. Yes, the initial publicity is not good, but the fact the manufacturer has prioritised the consumers safety, makes one feel a whole lot better about purchasing goods from that manufacturer in the future. Rather a bit of bad publicity than have a few severely ill consumers or deaths on your hands.


Recently, when shopping at a major retail chain, I saw stickers placed on product packaging stating that this product contains a specific allergen, but when I purchased the product a few weeks prior, this sticker was absent. Why should this be allowed? Has the manufacturer or retailer thought about the effects on the public? I did not see any notifications being released to the public.


Have a look at the National Guidelines at www.health.gov.za and give us your comments

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 January 23, 2015
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Food Safety

Habits of an effective food safety team

BY Janice Giddy

The late Dr. Stephen Covey left us with his legacy of inspirational books and seminars. In this article I would like to take his advice from his book “The 7 habits of highly effective individuals” and apply them to our ability to work as a food safety team. The ability to work as an effective team will be fundamentally important in achieving your Food Safety Objectives in 2015. Since your team will be comprised of different personalities across many disciplines, there is bound to be some conflict within your team. Establishing the right culture within your team will enable your team to work effectively. I have compiled a summary below of the first three habits below:


Habit 1: Be proactive
Stephen Covey was inspired by this paragraph he found in a college library: 

 

“Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space lies our freedom and power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our happiness”. 

 

Covey says that we need to practise using our four unique human gifts:

1. Be self aware: Step back and try to observe the way you are feeling when in particular situation. Hit the pause button before you react in any given situation.
2. Conscience: Be conscience of your feelings, and listen to your inner voice. Evaluate what your inner voice is saying and try to understand what the basis is for this inner voice. Many of these feelings may be as a result of how you were raised or previous negative experiences that you may have had. These may result in you giving an impulsive negative response in a potentially conflict situation.
3. Imagination: Instead of allowing yourself to respond or speak impulsively, choose a better response, one in which you are in control of your emotion. Imagine a positive result, now direct your response towards achieving this positive outcome which is to honour your own values.
4. Independent will: Exercise your independent will to control your impulse to strike out or speak out and control your response by looking at the greater benefit of the team and not simply to satisfy your own ego. Ask the question “what does this situation require from me?” and not “what do I require from this situation?”
5. Focus your energies on your circle on influence. Take responsibility for the things that you can have control over. This focus will increase your circle of influence as a team in your organisation.

 

Create a culture of respect and kindness within the team.

 

Habit 2:Begin with the end in mind
Create a clear compelling vision of what you and your team are all about and what your purpose is, and what you are as a team are trying to achieve. Now list the principles by which you would like to operate as a team. You can do this by asking the following questions:

  1. What kind of team do you want to be?
  2. How do you want to treat each other?
  3. How do you wish to develop the talents of each team member?
  4. What example would you like to be to the others in the organisation?

Write down your mission statement and principles and display them in your meeting room. Use these to guide you and remind you as to your purpose.

 

Habit 3: Put first things first

(The following summary is taken from White Dove inspiration books http://www.whitedovebooks.co.uk/stephen-covey/)

Covey plots the urgency and importance of tasks on a 2 x 2 matrix to represent how you are spending your time. This representation shows four categories of demand which may be made on your time. Quadrant 1 consists of activities which are both urgent and important - in other words, things to which you absolutely must attend. Why must you do these things? Because they are important - meaning that they contribute to your mission; and they are urgent - meaning that they have some sort of deadline associated with them.


Choices about where to invest your time really are made in the other categories; and most people - driven by the concept of urgency - get drawn into Quadrant 3; doing things that consume their time but do not contribute to their goals. Highly Effective People understand that the high leverage activities are all Quadrant 2 - important but not urgent. Planning, preparation, prevention, relationship-building, reading, improving your professional knowledge are all examples of Quadrant 2 activity.


We all intuitively know that Quadrant 2 activities are the key to getting results; but each team member needs to have internalised the first two habits before you can benefit from the high leverage this habit brings. In other words, you first need to have developed the strength of character (proactivity) which allows you to be able to say no to demands on your time that fall into Quadrants 3 and 4; and you also need to have defined what importance means for you - otherwise the Quadrants do not exist.


Put habits 1,2 and 3 together and you have the ultimate success formula. Stated simply - get your team members’ minds right; they need to each define what is important; then organise the team to maximise your Quadrant 2 efforts. By spending appropriate time on Quadrant 2 activities, you will gain control. Quadrant 1 will actually get smaller because you will have anticipated and prepared for much Quadrant 1 activity. Concentrating on Quadrant 2 is absolutely fundamental to achieving success.

 

For more information on the 7 habits of highly effective individuals take a look at the following website http://www.whitedovebooks.co.uk/7-habits-of-highly-effective-people-2/

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 January 19, 2015
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Food Safety

Understanding Food Defence

BY Rolf Uys

Consider this scenario: You work for a sauce manufacturing facility. Your company has several successful, well established bottled sauce brands .You have just had your annual staff performance appraisals. Two of the workers are very unhappy because they received poor wage increases and they were overlooked for promotion. They decide to get back at management by targeting the company brand name. Using cell phones they film each other opening branded sauce bottles and contaminating it with glass pieces and maintenance chemicals. They create fake accounts on social media and post their home made footage on “YouTube”, “Twitter” and “Facebook” together with the heading: “What really happens at your favourite sauce factory”.


Imagine the damage this can create. The brand name will be irreparably damaged and it will reach billions of people. The scary part is that this scenario is very plausible if one considers that in the global competitiveness index of the world economic forum, South Africa came last out of 144 countries in labour employee cooperation. We do not have a good record in creating happy cooperative work forces.


The question is: How can one prevent this scenario from happening in our factories? The reality is that we can never fully prevent somebody sabotaging food, but we can certainly reduce the risk by implementing a Food Defence program. The simple definition of Food Defence is preventing intentional contamination of food. This should not be confused with food safety which addresses preventing unintentional contamination of food. Malicious sabotage is a risk that cannot be underestimated and needs to be managed. Like food safety, it also needs a formal, structured program to achieve control.


Intentional contamination can be inflicted by not only disgruntled employees, but also contractors, visitors or competitors. Their motive may vary from harming a direct manager, the brand or the company. Microorganisms, foreign objects or chemicals may be used. Recent reported incidents include the deliberate use of needles, pesticides, glass or even condoms to contaminate food. The most prominent being a catering company in Limpopo deliberately sabotaging food for school feeding schemes with glass.


Food Defence is a fundamental requirement of internationally recognized food safety certification schemes including FSSC 22000, BRC and IFS. The problem is however that this requirement is often misunderstood and underestimated by Food Safety teams and Food Safety auditors. This results in weak, poorly written and ineffective Food Defence programs. Many food manufacturers believe that Food Defence means perimeter and gate security along with a one page policy statement. Or, it is simply added as a subheading under the crisis management program, with very little substance.

 

Aspects that need to be considered in a Food Defence Program are securing silos, water tanks and similar storage devices, tamper proofing final products and sealing in and outbound vehicles. Inter-building access needs to be controlled, particularly sensitive areas such as labs and workshops where contaminants could be easily be obtained. Camera surveillance is an important tool that needs to be put in place to prevent incidents or help investigate incidents.


Monitoring personnel behavior is an often forgotten aspect that requires consideration. An employee is unlikely to sabotage without showing warning signs first. This may be a change in behavior such as aggression, de-motivation of peers or substance addiction. Any such patterns need to be monitored, recorded and dealt with through counseling programs or disciplinary action. The idea being to stop the incident before it may happen. Background checking of all personnel including temporary staff will also go a long way in preventing any food defence incidents in the first place.


A good place to start a food defence program is to do a thorough vulnerability assessment- a basic risk assessment of where the defences are weakest and where resources need to be directed to strengthen it. From here, the control measures can be defined and procedures can be written as appropriate. The program should be driven by a formally appointed team and there should be a formal review process to ensure the momentum is kept. Like food safety, adequate commitment and resources are needed to ensure success.

 

Rolf Uys will be facilitating various Food Defence workshops during the upcoming months in:

  • Tshwane
  • Western Cape
  • Port Elizabeth

Alternatively, you can email rolf@entecom.co.za to assist in developing your own Food Defence plan for your company.

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 January 16, 2015
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Food Safety

What is really on our Food - Fruits & Vegetables

BY Mtho Moyo

It has been proven time and time again that fruits and vegetables are good for humans. Some of these vegetables might not be the greatest tasting items on earth, but yes they are good for our health - an apple a day …..”

 

Before I turn all the health conscious into vegetarians let’s wait a minute! As healthy as the natural fruits and vegetables are, we humans in a bid to maximize on yields and hatred of insects (we call them pests) have altered the ecosystem. "How so", we might ask? You see we use pesticides in the farms and orchards and these pesticides have even entered our water system. Pesticides residues on crops are monitored through the use of Maximum Residue Limits (MRL), which are based on the analysis of the quantity of a given pesticide remaining on food product samples.

 

The effects of pesticides on human health:

Pesticides are designed to kill and because their mode of action is not specific to one species, they often kill or harm organisms other than pests, including humans. The world health organisation estimates that there are 3 million cases of pesticide poisoning each year and up to 220,000 deaths, primarily in developing countries. The application of pesticides is often not very precise, and unintended exposures occur to other organisms in the general area where pesticides are applied. Children, and indeed any young and developing organisms, are particularly vulnerable to the harmful effects of pesticides. Even very low levels of exposure during development may have adverse health effects. So, in short, there are no safe pesticides only safe use of pesticides.


Pesticide formulations contain both "active" and "inert" ingredients. Active ingredients are what kill the pest, and inert ingredients help the active ingredients to work more effectively. These "inert" ingredients may not be tested as thoroughly as active ingredients and are seldom disclosed on product labels. Solvents, which are inert ingredients in many pesticide formulations, may be toxic if inhaled or absorbed by the skin.


In July 2013 At least 20 children died and up to 30 more were seriously ill after eating free meals at a primary school in eastern India. The children, aged between six and 10, were fed rice and lentils at lunch at the government primary school in a small village in the state of Bihar. The food had been cooked in the school kitchen. Staff stopped serving the meal after children began vomiting. Early tests showed that the food in this latest case may have been contaminated with pesticides used on rice and wheat crops in the area. A senior government health official in Delhi said one possibility was that ingredients had been stored too close to dangerous chemicals.

 

"Washing before cooking would have made no difference," he told the Guardian. Another route of pesticide poisoning lies comes through a seemingly unlikely source – meat! When herbivores such as cows consume plants containing pesticide residues, some fat soluble components may be retained by the animal’s body and are stored in the fat tissues. With time, there is accumulation of these residues in the body. When humans consume meat such as beef, a phenomenon known as bioaccumulation occurs as the humans now accumulate these residues from the many that the herbivores have eaten. This bioaccumulation continues as you go up the food chain. This means that carnivores may have lethal levels as they lie at the top of the food chain, and humans also fall under carnivores! Even though bioaccumulation has not been known to seriously affect humans, over time the effects may be seriously detrimental. 


How can we reduce the detrimental effect of pesticides?
Starting with the Farming: Farmers need to ensure that good agricultural practices (GAP) are followed and that only authorised Pesticides are utilised in the recommended quantities and following the instructions. Storage of the pesticides as well as the empty containers needs to ensure that there is no risk of cross contamination. It goes without saying that the pesticides should never be close to the Packhouse. In addition it is a legal requirement that MRL tests are conducted.


In the processing environment pesticides should be stored and used in a way that will not cause cross contamination on the raw materials or finished product. It is paramount that all food companies conduct a food safety risk assessment based on HACCP principles. While this might not totally eliminate pesticide residues it will go a long way in reducing the risks posed by the chemical hazards.


So why not contact Entecom and we shall guide you through the food safety risk assessments and more!

 

 

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 November 10, 2014
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Food Safety

Food Safety Recalls - Are we sweeping it under the carpet?

BY Aileen Uys

In the USA , food recalls have hit an all-time high. They currently have six recalls a day affecting 18.4 million products, according to www.foodnavigator.com. In South Africa we probably only have six recalls in a year. Let’s explore why?

 

Africa’s largest food manufacturing company Tiger Brands has in the last few weeks recalled some of its cooking sauces and rice products after tests found traces of Sudan 1 and Methyl Yellow. These are colourants that have potential toxic and carcinogenic properties. What is significant however is that this is a recurring incident in the South African Food Industry. The problem first surfaced when the Sunday times did an expose in 2005 and found these illegal colourants in spices and chilli. Two years later in 2007 another expose was done and SA food products were still not free from these toxins. Now in 2014 it is still around. Very scary indeed. As an industry, it appears if only superficial rather than root cause problem solving has been done. It appears as if it is a supplier quality assurance problem and not fully having confidence in food safety right through the supply chain to the producer level.

 

The other food safety incident, but which didn’t result in a recall was the Emma Primary School incident in September 2014 in the Winderveld, North of Gauteng. Tragically, three children died after allegedly eating food provided through a state feeding scheme. The case is still under investigation but it does draw attention to also considering food safety and recalls for the other sectors of the industry outside manufacturing.

 

The problem in South Africa is that unlike in other countries such as the USA and Europe, food safety is not measured. There is no infrastructure to measure food safety incidences and to pin point sources, so it goes largely undetected. The philosophy appears to be “absence of evidence is evidence of absence”. Recalling of food that is unfit for health is a legal requirement but sadly it is not being policed properly. As with the incident above, it only appears to be the large multinational companies that wish to protect their brand names, that initiate recalls. For the majority of the industry incidents are just covered up.

 

Food safety incidents and recalls are on the increase and one cannot adopt the “Lets sweep it under the carpet” or It won’t happen to me” approach for much longer. It is both immoral and illegal and will eventually catch up with us.

 

Entecom has consultation services and training courses to assist you in developing a world class recall and traceability program as well as robust, practical supplier quality assurance programs. Contact  aileen@entecom.co.za   for further assistance.

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 October 20, 2014
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Food Safety

Training in the Food Industry

BY Merle Litshie

Why train employees?

The aim of training is to help employee’s grow in competence and confidence this therefore increases effectiveness of individuals, teams, departments and the organization. Training is also used as proof that competent employees are working in the facility. Training is not a stand-alone entity but is one of the several elements that make an organization effective. Training also helps to encourage a shared purpose amongst employees and management as employees that are trained, tend to care about what they do and are usually motivated to do things better.


Disadvantages when training is not taken seriously:
The worst mistake done in many food companies is that when there is pressure for demand, there comes a time when the organization is in desperate for someone or a group of people (casual workers). Casuals are expected to do the work there and there. Supervisors and managers do put untrained people to work who are usually grouped with semi competent employees or incompetent workers (as the competent workers will be handling other problematic areas). The organization expects or hopes that these untrained employees will figure it out and make it work as they work. This kind of behavior results in many non-conformances which result in rejections, loss of time and resources, loss of profits and increases wage pay outs for lack of service or goods never completed.


The food industry is generally very busy as they are feeding the nations but it is not advisable to let training be an audit tick and leave it out until a few weeks before the audit. Training must also not be pushed to the last few weeks of the year as employees will be on holiday mode and fatigued as they will be nearing holidays at the end of the year, training will most probably be ineffective.

 

Tips for training planning:

  • Training must be planned at the beginning of every year (each department to identify their training needs as per their job specification)
  • A training matrix must be documented (must be documented using job specification as well as departmental training needs) as per departmental 
  • Refresher training must also be indicated on the training matrix
  • Human resources as well as departmental heads need to identify training gaps (slow production times, when lines are scheduled for heavy maintenance etc.)
  • Meeting must be held by the training department, human resources, department heads and management to discuss training needs, time for training and budget allocations
  • New employees and casuals must be trained as soon as possible prior to starting on the job.
  • Once training is done, employees must be assessed theoretically and practically to check effectiveness of training
  • Contractors working in the organization must also undergo a once off induction training before starting the first job. Refresher training should be done annually

When planned properly, training is an effective tool that also ensure all staff is competent and able to control systems in place especially key systems such as CCP monitoring and corrective action. Employees trained in a friendly non-rushed environment yields best results. So, training is important so as to improve current and new systems.

 

 

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 October 06, 2014
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Food Safety

How to Manage Allergens in Production

BY Angela Jordan

Codex lists over 170 allergens worldwide, with 8 listed for South Africa. Depending on where your product is destined, would determine what allergens you would need to list on your label and include in your allergen management programme.

 

Food allergens can contaminate a product through unintended exposure. This could result from the inadvertent presence of the allergens in raw materials, processing aids, changes in product scheduling, rework, ineffective cleaning and product cross contamination. What can you as a manufacturer do to ensure that you have a good allergen management programme in place?

  • Employee awareness and training is critical to avoid the unintentional or undeclared presence of allergens in products. Even if none of your products contain allergens, your staff still need to be trained. They need to understand how eating a peanut butter sandwich on their lunch break could have an effect on the content of your product.
  • Manufacturers must take the time to physically sit down and read the ingredients on the packaging of their raw materials. You will be surprised to find which raw materials actually contain allergens.
  • Ensure that you have the best quality ingredients from reputable suppliers. Your supplier should also have an allergen management programme in place, or you may be receiving contaminated product.
  • All allergen containing products (raw and final) should be stored separately. This does not mean dump them all in one area, without checking what product contains what allergens. Determine which product contains allergens and what allergen it is and then store accordingly.
  • It would be ideal to have separate lines for each product, but this is not viable for many businesses. Plan your daily/weekly production schedule, ensuring that non allergen containing products are manufactured first. Ensure deep cleaning between the manufacture of the various allergen containing products.
  • All allergens must be declared on labels. Do not hide under the ‘may contain’ banner. Have an effective allergen management system in place to ensure that you do not contaminate all your products. Consumers rely on manufacturers to have relevant GMP’s in place and for a product to have been correctly labelled.

Have a look at this handy website for an allergen control checklist www.food.gov.uk

 

 

 

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 September 19, 2014
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Food Safety
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 August 28, 2014
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Food Safety

Is Your FSMS System Smoking?

BY Janice Giddy

I like drawing the analogy between a car engine and a food safety management system. When I open up the bonnet of my car it is normally in the event of an emergency. I am embarrassed to say that I have been driving my car for many years and when the car did not want to start after visiting a client in a rural area, quite far from home the other day, I felt a wave of panic because I actually battled to open the bonnet. I fumbled and almost broke a fingernail but it just stayed clammed shut. It was almost as if the engine wanted to remain concealed from my fuzzy inferior mechanical scrutiny. I could almost hear the engine say “yeah right…” as the bonnet clammed tightly shut and I tried to lift it. It is such a revealing moment and very humbling, since I, the driver, normally in control of the car was now completely at a loss and was forced to actually look at the heart of the vehicle for the first time even though we had been together for  more than eight years. I can confirm that it’s a terrible feeling to peer helplessly at a car engine when you don’t have a clue what you are looking for.

  

Car engine can be seen as similar to a FSMS (Food Safety Management System). Whilst the main need for a good car engine would be to drive from A to Point B as quickly and as safely as possible, the main driving force of a Food Safety Management System is to ensure that food products meet customers’ food safety and quality requirements. The various engine components are all vital to the smooth running of the engine as each component has a unique role to play in the engine’s operation. Similarly each prerequisite programme or GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice) within the FSMS contributes towards achieving the desired objective which is safe quality products which comply with customer and legal requirements. Each PRP depends on the other and is interconnected to provide an integrated network of preventive measures. The engine works efficiently because each individual component works efficiently.

 

With the analogy to the car engine, clearly I am not a car mechanic, and am therefore not qualified to fiddle with a car engine. Just lifting the bonnet and staring at the car engine gave me heart palpitations and was a far as I was qualified to go. However it became imperative to have the car serviced by a qualified vehicle mechanic who tested the engine and by process of elimination was able to identify and speedily correct the problem area whilst also checking for any new potential problem areas.

 

A trained mechanic knows what to look for and is in tune with the engine. Similarly a trained food safety team will also be able to identify and correct problem areas by systematic process of elimination and root cause analysis and to also identify any potential problem areas.

 

If you are the owner or manager of your food business it will be beneficial to your business to acknowledge the tremendous value of your food safety team. Recognize how vital each and every member is in ensuring that your Food Safety Management engine operates efficiently so that you can focus on driving the business, checking the readings on the dashboard, making informed timeous decisions and ensuring that you are achieving the main business objective, namely; meeting customers’ quality and food safety requirements whilst making a profit. Without this objective as your focus you will end up with a smoking car engine in the heart of the Karoo… and THAT, I do not wish upon any of our readers.

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 August 27, 2014
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Food Safety

Chemical Hazards Analysis in HACCP

BY Mtho Moyo

HACCP studies are a pain, aren’t they? What should we include and what should we exclude? Are some of the questions that run through our minds as we decipher the hazards analysis in the HACCP studies of our food safety management systems? Quite often we conduct these studies just to get through the dreaded audits. Let us always remember that we implement the food safety management systems to comply with legislation, customer requirements and a genuine concern to protect ourselves and our beloved consumers from drastic consequences.

 

Now let us zoom in on chemical hazards. Chemical hazards are defined as “toxic substances and any other compounds that may render a food unsafe for consumption”. Sources of chemical hazards include:

  • Raw Materials  - Fertilizers, pesticides, heavy metals, packaging material, inks, colour additives, fungicides, hormones etc.
  • Processing - Colour additives
  • Maintenance - Lubricants, paint, coatings
  • Cleaning - Cleaning chemicals,sanitisers

There is a type of chemical hazard that we all normally forget about!. Yes you guessed it, Mycotoxins. Forget the exotic sounding name mycotoxins can be deadly to humans or animals. What are they and why should we take them seriously? A mycotoxin (from Greek μύκης (mykes, mukos) "fungus" and τοξικÏŒν (toxikon) "poison" is a toxic secondary metabolite produced by organisms of the fungi kingdom, commonly known as molds. One mold species may produce many different mycotoxins, and the same mycotoxin may be produced by several species.

 

Mycotoxins can appear in the food chain as a result of fungal infection of crops, either by being eaten directly by humans or by being used as livestock feed. Mycotoxins greatly resist decomposition or being broken down in digestion, so they remain in the food chain in meat and dairy products. Even temperature treatments, such as cooking and freezing, do not destroy some mycotoxins.

Aflatoxins are a type of mycotoxin produced by Aspergillus species of fungi, such as A. flavus and A. parasiticus.

 

Effect on Humans:

Mycotoxicosis is the term used for poisoning associated with exposures to mycotoxins. The symptoms of mycotoxicosis depend on the type of mycotoxin - the concentration and length of exposure as well as age, health, and sex of the exposed individual. In turn, mycotoxins have the potential for both acute and chronic health effects via ingestion, skin contact, and inhalation. These toxins can enter the blood stream and lymphatic system; they inhibit protein synthesis, damage macrophage systems, inhibit particle clearance of the lung, and increase sensitivity to bacterial endotoxin.

 

In 2004 in Kenya, 125 people died and nearly 200 others were treated after eating aflatoxin-contaminated maize. The deaths were mainly associated with homegrown maize that had not been treated with fungicides or properly dried before storage. Due to food shortages at the time, farmers may have been harvesting maize earlier than normal to prevent thefts from their fields, so that the grain had not fully matured and was more susceptible to infection.

 

When it comes to Chemical hazards Analysis.  it is important to have a holistic appproch that will include both:

  • naturally occuring chemicals such as mycotoxins, mushroom toxins, shellfish toxins
  •  as well as added chemicals such as growth hormones,pesticides,food additives etc.
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 August 12, 2014
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Food Safety

Food Safety Modernization

BY Aileen Uys

There are currently major changes being made in the Food Safety world in the USA. The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) has been launched. This is a major overhaul of existing systems that have been in place for the past 70 years. The question however is how it will affect South African Companies. Those directly involved with exporting products will be affected. This includes fruit and seafood, but the market remains small. Europe and the Far East have been much larger export routes for South African food companies.

 

The FSMA will affect the way the international community thinks about food safety and the proposed changes are likely to slowly filter into our own regulations. So the sooner we learn about this subject the better…

 

Download the Food Safety Modernization Act Guidelines

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 July 30, 2014
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Food Safety

Pest Control- Quick insight into the requirements

BY Aileen Uys

The work required from the food safety team and from an external pest contractor on pest control is often underestimated. Here are some pointers for the food safety team on how to manage pest control as a GMP programme.

 

Internal:

  • A designated person should manage pest control and liaise with the external expert contractor. Appoint a pest control officer. 
  • All sightings of pests are to be reported to the Food Safety Team Leader or pest control officer and recorded on the Pest Sighting Log, which is then reported to the external pest contractor.
  • The internal pest control officer should verify that effective Pest Control practices are being implemented by the Pest Control Contractor, by e.g. checking activity in the bait boxes and insect light units and checking for other signs of pests e.g. droppings.
  • It is important to remember that one should above all prevent the pests from coming into the facility by pest-proofing and also making sure that there is no waste, hidden areas or stagnant water that might be attracting the pests.
  • Pesticides are stored away from food to ensure that they do not come into contact with food/ food products.

External:

  • A Registered Pest Control Company is sub-contracted to eliminate the following examples or target pests 
    • Rodents
    • Crawling insects
    • Flying insects
    • Birds
  • The Service Contract between the company and the Sub-contractor should be in place
  • The programme is conducted by a contractor who is registered with the Department of Agriculture. The service technician is qualified (National Certificate of Pest Control) and must administer pesticides registered with the Department of Agriculture.
  • A pest control file is maintained and includes:
    • A service agreement
    • A schedule of pesticides and their Safety Data sheets
    • Service reports (Inspection, Treatment, quantity, area applied to, application method, date and time of treatment, targeted pests, and Action taken)
    • Pesticides used and their quantities per service
    • A plan of all areas including positioning of rodent baits, flying insect control units and insect attractants, traps and/or detectors
    • Pesticide antidote list and poison centre contact information
    • Copy of service technician licences and training certificates
    • List of contact persons and their contact numbers
    • Effective preventative measures for rodents, insects and birds, are established in all areas. These shall include:
    • Outside rodent bait stations: Waterproof, numbered, tamper evident and anchored/raised.
    • Inside rodent bait stations in non-processing areas (i.e. services, offices and stores) labelled, numbered, tamper evident and anchored.
    • The Food Safety Team Leader will be given a key for the opening of bait stations for monthly verification inspections sampling bait stations randomly or when activity in the area is noted.
    • Flying insect control units where required, but not where insects will be attracted from outside the plant or less than three metres from any line or equipment. Insect Light Units with Glue Boards are used in the Production areas. The Shatterproof UV light is replaced annually and positioned within 2.4m from the floor. 
    • Glue boards for the Insect Control Units are monitored monthly during the monthly service inspections and replaced upon recommendation by the Pest Control Contractor.
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 July 28, 2014
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Food Safety

How to Handle Non-Conformances

BY Merle Litshie

What is a non-conformance?
A non-conformance is a non-fulfillment of a specified requirement, a failure to conform or comply with accepted standards or requirements of a quality or other system.

 

Steps to be followed when handling a nonconformance:

  • Document the nonconformance and give the nonconformance a unique number
  • Issue the documented nonconformance to relevant department 
  • Department (responsible person) to investigate root cause
  • Implement corrective action
  • Verification of implemented corrective action
  • Close out the nonconformance and file 

What ensures the nonconformance are rectified effectively?
Root cause analysis: Seeks to identify the origin of a problem and uses specific steps with associated tools to find the cause of the problem by:

  • Determining what happened
  • Determining why it happened
  • Figure out what to do to reduce the likelihood that it will happen again
  • Use tools such as 5 why’s and Fishbone diagram to determine root cause

Corrective action versus correction


Corrective action: This is action implemented to eliminate or prevent the non-conformance from occurring again. This is achieved by identifying and analyzing to root cause as well as remedying the root cause. Akways be careful not to implement a correction as this will not solve the non-conformance.

 

Correction: This is action implemented to rectify problem or nonconformance and often implemented many times without success as the same action is implemented over and over again.


Example of corrective action versus correction:
Conveyor belt snaps and breaks.
Correction - Maintenance joins the snapped conveyor belt and production resumes immediately. Then the conveyor belt snaps again in a different area within an hour again and again maintenance joins conveyor belt again. This is a correction and does not solve the problem.

Corrective action - Maintenance conduct a root cause analysis to determine the cause of the snapping conveyor belt. Upon investigation they discover that there is too much tension on the belt and that there is not enough lubrication on the top run idlers. The belt is then loosened and lubricated then the changes are documented on the preventive maintenance program so that weekly or monthly inspection are conducted to prevent this from occurring again.


Remember effective root cause analysis and correct action are key to resolving non-conformance’s as well as ensuring continuous improvement.



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 July 07, 2014
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Food Safety

Food Safety - It Is Personal

BY Clarice Oelofse

What could be more personal than the food you eat? And what could be more personal than the hand that prepares your food? The issue of food safety is as close as your next meal.

 

Food safety awareness is hot news – firstly, new trends and legislations are playing a huge role in the supply chain and secondly, consumers are eating more meals which have been prepared outside of their home environment. Yet, the whole “food hygiene thing” covers widespread challenges such as food recalls, traceability, cleaning & sanitation, effective allergen management, management of non-conforming products, endless audits, inspections, training, legal compliance and micro-testing.

 

The human element in these activities can’t be ignored. Clearly, all food safety issues stem from human behaviour. There have been various indications that most foodborne illness outbreaks can be attributed to food workers’ improper food handling practices and/or a general lack of education and/or and lack of motivation.  For instance, the Campylobacter issue – did you even know you are not supposed to wash raw chicken before cooking it?

 

Thus, human behaviour is an important component of any food safety system. Take this into account, and we see that behavioural science can be an important tool in any food safety outlet to ensure that food workers handle food safely. Most food safety interventions provide knowledge to food workers with the expectation that workers will almost automatically and immediately  translate this knowledge into practice. Yet numerous studies on different types of behaviour, including food safety, indicate that although knowledge may be an essential component of behaviour change, it is not always sufficient. Human behaviour is complex, and multiple factors, not just knowledge, affect whether humans engage in any particular behaviour. Several behavioural science theories have focused on identifying these factors, which include elements such as knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs about the behaviour, intentions to engage in the behaviours and perceived behavioural norms. It is obvious that there is a need for food safety interventions that do more than merely provide food safety education. The answer could lie in the creation of a food safety culture, which focuses more on people (what they believe about food safety and consequently how they react to their beliefs, which is then translated into their behaviour).

 

In essence, a behaviour based food safety management system is processed focused, as well as people focused. In order to improve the food safety performance of your organisation, it is essential to change behavioural patterns of staff. Let’s compare the “old” and the “new”

 

 Traditional Food Safety Management

 Behaviour Based Food Safety Management

 Focus on process

 Focus on process and people

 Solely focus on food science

 Emphasis on Food Science, Behavioural Science,      and Organisational Culture

 Simplistic view of behaviour change

 Behaviour change is more complex

 Linear thinking

 System Thinking

 Creates a food safety program

 Creates a food safety culture

 Employees are accountable for food safety

 Employees are responsible for food safety

 

  There are several ways to address this. Here are a few pointers:

  • encourage managers and supervisors to engage in activities that address factors (other than theoretical knowledge) that impact safe food handling, such as supporting a food safety culture in general and removing barriers to safe food handling, including inadequate staffing, inadequate equipment and inadequate process flows. The critical issue here is leadership. The old saying: “As the leader goes, so goes the nation…” comes to mind.
  • Managers and practitioners can conduct activities that would increase understanding of the factors that impact safe food handling in their respective areas. Storytelling and current affairs prove to be prevalent in their workplace – tap into that. Use eye-catching graphics and highlight what they can do as a food handler through your stories.

Frank Yiannas, vice-chair of the Global food Safety Initiative and Wal-Mart’s vice-president of food Safety, encouraged South African companies to work toward implementing a culture of food safety by working through a five-step process, which will help to change their employees’ behaviours and improve their food safety results:

  1. Create food safety expectations
  2. Educate and train all associates
  3. Communicate food safety frequently
  4. Establish food safety goals and measurements
  5. Put emphasis on consequences of behaviours

It is no small challenge to build a positive food safety culture in a multi-cultural society. We can unanimously agree that food safety is about more than training, but training is a good place to start. You see, you can’t change anyone’s behaviour if you are not addressing what they believe deep down…

 

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 June 20, 2014
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Food Safety

Take Food Safety Seriously - For Your Sake

BY Mtho Moyo

Do you find yourself constantly complaining about the costs involved in implementing and sustaining a Food Safety Management System? Guess what, you are not the only one! But let us think for a moment – What would it cost us should people get gravely ill after consuming our special "no need for food safety" product? I am pretty sure we all agree that it would not be a pretty sight then.


Implementing a Food Safety Management System is an investment on the future of your business and your reputation. A preventative approach (i.e. stopping a problem occurring in the first place) rather than a reactive one (i.e. ‘crying over spilt milk’) is the most responsible and cost-effective way to handle food safety hazards. Should your business be unfortunate enough to be implicated in a foodborne illness outbreak, your documented and implemented food safety management system may possibly assist your defence.

By taking action to reduce food safety risks, you can protect the health of your business by:

  • building and maintaining a favourable reputation with your customers;
  • avoiding costs associated with product recalls, and loss of sales or business;
  • avoiding additional financial costs such as legal liability. 

A business thrives on its reputation, and goodwill forms part of the value of the business. Most business owners are aware they need to develop a good reputation for quality and service, but a reputation for Food safety is even more important because it can be very fragile. With poor quality or service the consumer can simply go and buy from next door, on the other hand people will not take a threat to their health lying down.

 

Larger companies, such as Supermarkets that purchase from small businesses, need to be sure that they are purchasing food that is as safe as reasonably possible. These companies would not want to put their reputation at risk because of sub-standard food safety practices used by their suppliers. As a result, most large businesses now require their suppliers to implement a food safety management system, which they then get audited. Having a food safety management system, that is recognised by the GFSI, can expand your business opportunities and help your business grow. Food rarely becomes an unacceptable safety risk due to a random accident that is ‘nobody’s fault’. The cause is usually linked back to the failure of or, worse, complete lack of a food safety management systems at the implicated food business.


Product recalls not only affect your reputation, they are also expensive exercises. The expenses associated with a recall are:

  • newspaper advertising; the scale depends on how many products are affected and how widely they are distributed (i.e. local area, nationwide or international) 
  • the cost of stock; includes refunds on products already sold and stock that has yet to be distributed or sold
  • the recovery of stock; the cost depends on how widely the product is distributed, and whether the destruction of products will be performed at the point of sale or if all stock is to
  • be returned to the manufacturer for disposal
  • the destruction of stock; the cost depends on the amount of stock and the method required (e.g. normal trade waste or incineration)
  • product testing costs; the cost depends on the type of testing required and the number of samples requiring testing
  • other associated costs such as overtime payments, loss of profit due to indirect costs from
  • disruption and loss of sales, and penalties from supermarkets for removal of stock from shelves.
  • most of all the imagine the damaged reputation and the unbearable embarrassment!

So tell me would you risk your sweat and toil over some preventable Food safety Incident , just because implementing a food safety management system looks like a tall order or expensive? I certainly would not!


You do not have to grow grey hairs over Food Safety, Entecom is here for you all the way.

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 June 05, 2014
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Food Safety

The Lowdown on Good Storage Practices

BY Aileen Uys

When implementing a food safety management system such as HACCP or FSSC 22 000 it is difficult to really know what good storage practices entails. Certification standards are often vague and do not explain precisely what is required in terms of Good Storage Practices. Herewith some pointers on what needs to be considered. This applies to any size warehouse, whether used for raw materials, finished goods or packaging materials.

  • One should protect the ingredients, packaging and final product. This means it must be stored in an enclosed store. 
  • Inside one should have space under, between pallets and away from the wall to efficiently clean and prevent pest harbourage. The rule of thumb is to have a broom’s width (+- 50cm) space to facilitate effective cleaning. 
  • When stacking, one should protect the bottom layers.
  • A separate, designated and labelled area is needed for all non-conforming product.
  • Practices the principles of FIFO, First in First Out or FEFO First Expired First Out, depending on the product.
  • No Gasoline or Diesel forklifts are allowed in food ingredient or product storage areas.
  • Cleaning chemicals, pesticides, lubricants and general maintenance chemicals should be stored separately and should be locked.
  • Adequate lighting is needed in order to clean and inspect properly and to work safely. Follow the published occupational health and safety guidelines on Lux levels. The store should also be properly ventilated.
  • Often sweets and chips wrappers or cold drink bottles are hidden in storage areas. This is a symptom of disregarding of the hygiene policies. This needs to be strongly discouraged and prevented through good training. Next time have a look in the warehouse dustbins to see whether personnel are eating inside the warehouse. 
  • A pallet inspection programme is needed to ensure that wooden pallets are in good order and clean. Plastic pallets are not magical devices that do not get dirty and also require planned cleaning and inspection.
  • All wooden pallets need a cardboard or plastic slip sheet between the materials and the pallet, or when double stacking.
  • With regards to allergens, the rules are simple. Like should be stored above like. In case of multiple allergens the ingredients with the most allergens should be stored at the bottom. Look at implementing a spillage procedure to ensure spillages do not become allergen cross-contamination risks.
  • An incoming ingredients examination record should beused to inspect all ingredients received for quality and pests.
  • Do not accumulate broken and damaged bags and do not tape it closed. Implement a rebagging procedure that details how this is dealt with. Also cover rebagging returns from production. 
  • Temperature control does not only mean refrigerated storage but might also mean checking the temperature in our ambient rooms to ensure quality is not affected in the cold winter months or warm summer months. All temperatures need to be logged either manually or realtime.
  • One should have rodent monitoring devices in the warehouse as part of the pest management program. Just keep in mind that these devices are only monitoring and not control devices. The control comes from pest proofing the warehouse properly, cleaning properly and engineering out harbourages. 
  • Storage areas should be properly bird proofed. This involves keeping doors closed, sealing all gaps on the roof line and regularly inspecting for and removing nests. 
  • Don’t forget cleaning, our master cleaning schedule applies for our warehousing also.
  • Everything in a store must be accurately and legibly labelled to facilitate traceability.

 

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 May 19, 2014
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Food Safety

Why FSSC 22000? Why not ISO 22000? And what about HACCP?

BY Merle Litshie

So what is this buzz about this FSSC 22000 in the Food Industry? Should one have it and why. Why not stay with what we have?

What is FSSC 22000? Let's have a look...

 

FSSC (Food Safety System Certification) is a food safety system made up of ISO 22000 + ISO/TS 22002-1 (Pre Requisite Programs - PRP). There are three parts:

  • Part 1: PRP’s for food manufacturing,
  • Part 2: PRP’s for catering and
  • Part 3: PRP’s for farming.

FSSC 22000 is the most comprehensive food safety management system. It is GFSI (Global Food Safety Initiative) recognized.

 

Should organisations have it and why? Yes! Organisations should have it because FSSC 22000 is fully recognized by GFSI board of directors. This recognition was achieved by an extensive benchmarking process using the GFSI requirements guideline therefore organization can trade globally.

Advantages of FSSC 22000:

  • FSSC 22000 incorporates many of the principles of other GFSI approved food safety standards and combines them in a single approach therefore an organization can have a customized single food audit solution.
  • The organization will be able to meet growing global customer requirements from GFSI recognized suppliers. This means the organization has worldwide credibility
  • FSSC 22000 promotes a common language within the organization and improves communication across the supply chain therefore increasing transparency throughout the food supply chain.
  • Once FSSC 22000 certified, other stakeholders have confidence that the certified organization is in control of Food Safety hazards and are able to identify them.

Why not stay with what we have?

The organization needs to review current Food Safety system and see if it is GFSI recognized and if not improve or upgrade system to be part of the GFSI family that means you will be globally recognized and can compete with other organizations similar to yours and trade all over the world. Why not exceed your customer’s expectations before they ask you for FSSC 22000?

 

Why not ISO 22000? ISO 22000 without ISO/TS 22002-1 is not GFSI recognized therefore the organization will still need to implement the ISO/TS 22002-1 PRP’s in future in order to be GFSI recognized.

 

And what of HACCP? If organization is HACCP certified, this is good news as the organization will upgrade and build on current Food Safety system. The HACCP does not fall away, it is part of FSSC 22000 and is a requirement on the GFSI requirements. Those organizations with HACCP are a step ahead of those that have no HACCP. Once FSSC is implemented there is no need to be certified for both HACCP and FSSC 22000, the HACCP certification is replaced by FSSC 22000 certification.

 

Those organizations without a Food Safety System such as HACCP, do not despair as the organization can implement HACCP and not go for HACCP certification but build on the system to eventually be FSSC 22000 certified. If this is the way the organization will be going, it would be good to use a consultant to guide you through the process and keep things in check so you do not drown or lose your path. Fear not at Entecom has consultants with a lot of food industry experience – Just pick up the phone and call us or even send us an email we are here to serve you.

 

 

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 May 12, 2014
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Food Safety

HACCP, PRP, Mimimum Legal Requirements – how does the puzzle fit together?

BY Angela Jordan

Sometimes it’s best to get back to basics.  When meeting different people in many different areas of food manufacturing, from the corner cafe to the large retailer manufacturer, one often notes that people do not know how HACCP, PRP system and the minimum legal requirements fit together.  HACCP seems to be a very loosely used term, with many not actually understanding where the puzzle pieces fit.

 

Think of your food safety system as a house, with a foundation, bricks and a roof on top.  Firstly you will need a good foundation before you can consider starting with the brickwork.  The foundation of food safety is R962 (the old R918).  This regulation is what the municipality utilise to issue a Certificate of Acceptability to your premises.  This is a legal requirement and every premises that sells food, needs to have a valid certificate in order to operate legally.  These are quite basic requirements, which cover pest control, personal hygiene, structural requirements, transporting your goods and storage of your goods. 

 

If you are wanting to supply a retailer or your customers demands it, one will then implement a system that builds the bricks of our building.  These bricks are customised, documented systems that record food safety before, during and after manufacturing.  The bricks could include allergen management, traceability, maintenance, auditing, cleaning, corrective action, food defence, process control, receiving and distribution, storage, control of non conforming product, purchasing and sample retention, to name a few.  Guidance on what should be contained in our bricks (or PRP system) can be found in SANS 10049, GFSI vs6 or additional retailer requirements or your chosen HACCP system requirements.  One should ideally run with this system for at least six months before thinking of putting the roof on our building.  This is needed so that any kinks can be ironed out the system and that the system can become entrenched in the business, which would need to include staff coaching and mentoring.

 

Now we can start thinking of putting the roof on top, which is our HACCP system.  This is not a one man job but a team effort.  Your HACCP system would include a dedicated HACCP team, detailed product descriptions, process flows, hazard analysis and our possible CCP’s (which are the critical points in our manufacturing process that reduce or eliminate the hazards that we cannot control with our PRP system), our CCP monitoring and corrective action needed should our CCP deviate.  The principles for HACCP are guided  by SANS 10330, ISO 22000, GFSI or many other international HACCP systems (which you use depends on what HACCP system you are putting in place).

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 May 05, 2014
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Food Safety

Are you a HACCP Lone Ranger?

BY Janice Giddy

Are you a HACCP Lone Ranger?

 

As a Food Safety Team Leader you can sometimes feel alone in an organization, and that you are the only person in your organization that really cares about Food Safety. It can feel as if you are on a survival island, cut off from the rest of the organization. You can feel as if the world is on your shoulders and can this can leave you feeling pretty stressed and demotivated. Let’s look at some of the reasons why this happens and what you can do to get it right.

 

When you started compiling your system, did you do it as a team? According to Clause 5.5 of the ISO 22000 standard, top management should appoint a team leader who has the responsibility and authority to perform the following functions:

  1. Manage a food safety team and organize it’s work
  2. To ensure relevant training and education of the food safety team members
  3. To ensure that the food safety management system is established, implemented, maintained and updated
  4. To report to the organization’s top management on the effectiveness and suitability of the food safety management system

The Food Safety Team Leader is therefore required to have a huge amount of support from Top Management in order to achieve the objective of having an effective Food Safety Management System. The Food Safety Team Leader should therefore have an open communication channel to Top Management to regularly report on the progress of the FSMS. This communication should not wait until a Management Review Meeting, but should take place much more frequently so that Top Management has an accurate picture of how the company is performing pertaining to its food safety objectives. Rather than keeping all of the information to yourself, which will be the reason why you could start to feel isolated later on, make the information available for all of Top Management to access. Communication is key in a FSMS.

 

Here are number of suggestions as to how you can communicate on progress to Top Management:

 

1. Set up an intranet which Top Management can access to view the performance data when- ever they wish. Data may include the following graphs:

  • Procedures / work instructions compiled per department vs due date
  • Number of customer complaints per category per month
  • Number of corrective actions / non-conformances / audit findings and progress against due date for close-out
  • Training conducted vs training planned per department
  • Micro / analytical test results per batch

2. Have a monthly meeting with the Food safety Team where you discuss the implementation progress. Plan and schedule the meetings in advance and make use of an agenda to ensure that all important components are addressed. Keep it short and ensure that items are allocated to responsible persons with due dates per item. Minute the meeting and send the minutes to everyone including Top Management. Save the minutes on the intranet

 

3. The Team must also use this platform to communicate any potential changes which could have an impact on the FSMS, (see clause 5.6.2 of the ISO 22000 standard for a more detailed list of the changes that should be communicated), some of these will include; New products, raw materials, production systems equipment, new suppliers etc

 

4. Ensure that the team are trained on Food Safety as well as to how to conduct internal audits and involve the team in the auditing process

 

5. Schedule a bimonthly meeting with Top Management to discuss progress and to bring their attention to any important items.

Remember that as Food Safety Team Leader you will need to be able to develop the following abilities:

  1. Manage the Food Safety Team
  2. Project manage (system implementation)
  3. Compilation of documents and organization of information
  4. Communication at all levels in the organisation
  5. Sharing of the performance of the FSMS across all departments

 

If you stick to the above you should not end up in a situation where you feel isolated from the rest of the organization. Give it a try, you have nothing to lose. Good luck and let us know how it goes!

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 April 15, 2014
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Food Safety

Food Safety - What has culture got to do with it?

BY Mtho Moyo

Being a Quality/Food safety Manager is not an easy task - “You are doomed if you do, You are damned if you do not!”

 

Who really runs the Food Safety show?

Every food organisation strives to produce safe food willingly or under duress nowadays. As with everything else challenges are abound.You have the Food Safety Team documenting award winning Food safety procedures and work instructions, on the other hand you have production doing….. aah well PRODUCTION. So then one wonders are these two are ever going to be Pals. Are compliant documents enough for the Auditor? Perhaps the Auditor will see our nice, clean well maintained Plant which we shall paint, clean and sign it to death and be jolly satisfied? We could do our thing throughout the year and prepare for the audit three weeks from the audit, after all we do it all the time and we always pass those audits with flying colours. This approach might work 20% of the time but why give that man Murphy a bells?

 

What is Food Safety Culture?

A more technical definition by the Health and Safety Commission (1993) states, ‘‘The safety culture of an organization is the product of the individual and group values, attitudes, competencies and patterns of behavior that determine the commitment to, and the style and proficiency of, an organization’s health and safety programs. Organizations with a positive safety culture are characterized by communications founded on mutual trust, by shared perceptions of the importance of safety, and by confidence in the efficacy of preventative measures.’’ This definition illustrates a food safety culture is made up of individual and group thoughts, attitudes, and behaviors. Each employee or person within an organization has a personal responsibility for preparing or serving safe food. It also illustrates that food safety is interdependent. All employees within the whole of the organization or company have a shared responsibility to ensure food safety. And the sum of food safety efforts within an organization is critically dependent on and greater than its parts. Simply put, a food safety culture is how an organization or group does food safety.

 

Why Is Culture Important?

With the space age we are now living in, information is flowing everywhere - even to those that don’t need it if you ask me! So we see in social media, newspapers, news you name it, scary food safety stories that could stop you from eating cucumbers from Spain or get you worried about powder milk from China. Do you recall what the underlying root cause was? Was it reported that the accident was due to faulty design? Was it attributed to operator error? Do you recall if improper training was implicated?

As the cause?

 

Who Creates Culture?

In an organization or social group, food safety is a shared responsibility. There is no question about it. But when it comes to creating, strengthening, or sustaining a culture within an organization, there is one group of individuals who really own it – they’re the leaders. The strength of an organization’s food safety culture is a direct reflection of how important food safety is to its leadership. A food safety culture starts at the top and flows downward. It is not created from the bottom up. If an organization’s Food safety culture is less than acceptable, it’s the leaders who are ultimately responsible and who own it.

 

How Is Culture Created?

Having a strong food safety culture is a choice. Ideally, the leaders of an organization will proactively choose to have a strong food safety culture because it’s the right thing to do. Safety is a firm value of the organization. Notice the word “value” versus priority.’’ Priorities can change; values should not (Geller, 2005). The organization chooses to have a strong food safety culture, because it values the safety of its customers and employees. The leaders of the organization have vision and foresight, knowing that having a strong food safety culture is important and that it directly and indirectly benefits the business. Although less desirable, for other organizations or groups, establishing a strong food safety culture might be driven out of necessity. Their focus on improving their food safety culture is reactionary. It’s driven by a significant or major event. They’ve experienced a food borne illness outbreak, high profile media expose, or an important regulatory issue. They’re reacting to pressure. Regardless of whether it’s based on a proactive vision or a reactive event, creating a strong food safety culture does not happen by chance.

 

How can we influence a Food safety culture?

 

Practices and Programs

  • Operational Integration
  • Motivational Program
  • Behavioral Observation & Feedback
  • Food Safety Committees
  • Case Management
  • Food Safety Survey/Risk Assessment

Management Visibility

  • Emphasize as a Company Value
  • Discuss Food Safety at Employee Meetings
  • Participate in Food Safety Committees
  • Do Frequent “Management by walking around (MBWA)”
  • Ensure Adequate Resources
  • Ensure Employee Training
  • Create Trusting Relationships
  • Suspend Unsafe Activities

 

Front Line Supervisor Responsibilities

  • Encourage Safe/Discourage Unsafe Behaviors
  • Conduct hazard analysis
  • Train Employees
  • Conduct Documented Food Safety Inspections
  • Investigate Incidents & Near Misses

Employee Involvement

  • Safety Performance Objectives
  • Recognition of Superior Safety Performance
  • Progressive Discipline for Unsafe Practices

 

    “Some people feel the rain, others just get wet”- Bob Marley

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 March 31, 2014
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Food Safety

Leader Of The Pack

BY Aileen Uys

South African food manufacturing facilities generally underestimate the need for good food safety management personnel.  Often one will find an accountant or production supervisor that had attended a one day HACCP course being promoted to food safety team leader. A lack of skills could be detrimental to the quality and food safety management program and could even sink the company.  Let’s explore what being a food safety team leader/quality assurance manager entails and what skills are really required?  

 

The problem is that there is no clear career path available. It’s not like a doctor or pilot where the career path/ courses are clearly mapped out.  Experience has to be accumulated in various different aspects of food production, food safety and people skills. A food safety team leader firstly needs to understand the product they’re producing, the science behind it and the relevant food safety risks.  Technical knowledge in microbiology, chemistry, food production technology and legislation is a must.  Equally important perhaps is the people skills that comes along with the job. 

 

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 March 10, 2014
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Food Safety

Quality assurance advice (Q&A) - Volume 4

BY Rolf Uys

Q: I’m the Quality Manager at a large food manufacturing facility. It get the feeling that top management doesn’t really see the importance of food safety. They see our department as just another overhead. Almost as a problem child that keeps wanting money. How can I make them understand the importance of Food Safety and acknowledge our role?

 

A: Unfortunately, too often, this is true. Many senior managers do not fully understand the value of food safety/quality and subsequently only spend the bare minimum necessary.

 

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 February 19, 2014
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Food Safety

Quality assurance advice (Q&A) - Volume 5

BY Rolf Uys

Q: I work for a large food processing company. Our biggest problem is birds.  We have tried everything to control this problem and nothing seems to work. What advice do you have for us?

 

A: Birds are a major concern in food production and retail establishments. In my 15 years of food safety auditing, birds have probably been the no.1 cause of audit fails. The food safety risks associated with birds are largely underestimated.  Bird droppings carry a plethora of pathogens that could affect the food produced or the health of employees.  Salmonella being the most concerning.  Furthermore, bird droppings physically deteriorate buildings and strain cleaning resources. Nests, feathers and droppings block gutters and drains that may damage buildings indirectly.  

 

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 February 19, 2014
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Food Safety

Cleaning Cloth Management

BY Merle Litshie

Cloths are widely used during cleaning and sometimes for sanitizing in the food industry, it is therefore very important to clean, maintain and dispose of cleaning cloths when necessary or as required. Dirty cloths can spread bacteria in food manufacturing factories (especially preparation areas). Bacteria could easily spread to food contact areas especially if employees do not follow basic hygiene practices.

 

Cleaning cloths are a potential source of cross contamination within a food manufacturing environment therefore it is important to avoid the use of cut off’s (usually from used clothes or bedding) as their origin or previous use or exposure is unknown. These further tear into smaller pieces or have threads that could fall into the food stream.

 

Microfiber, nonwoven fiber and generic kitchen cloths are usually better to use as compared to nonwoven cloths and cotton towels. Cotton towels are often used as they can be laundered and re-used. Re-usable cloths seem more convenient and less expensive but these re-usable cloths are often not properly disinfected. Disposable cloths or paper towels (where applicable) reduce the risk of cross contamination.

 

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 February 18, 2014
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Food Safety

Food Safety Incident Management

BY Angela Jordan

With the management of incidents in the food industry being of interest to all, your company and incident management team need to have a clear plan in place in order to deal with incidents in the most transparent and effective ways.  There needs to be clear roles and responsibilities for the team with the understanding of who deals with what when, in the case of a serious incident.  One does not want to be in a situation of chaos when you are in the eyes of public scrutiny.  The way that serious incidents are dealt with could have far reaching impact on your business.

 

A plan needs to be in place for those incidents that could turn into a crisis.  The incidents could be food or non food related. 

 

Food related examples would include: contamination of food and consumer illness or harm. Non food related incidents include natural disasters, such as floods, earthquakes or violent storms and  man made, such as electrical failure and strikes. Non food incidents will eventually have an effect of the safety and quality of the food at the organization.                         

 

Obviously one cannot makes plans for all types of incidents, but only ones that could possibly occur within or around the company.  An assessment would need to be done by a trained team in order to ascertain what incidents may be possible at the establishment.

  

The following steps could be utilized when drawing up your incident plan

 

  1. Food risks and incidences identified and risked;
  2. Identify information sources and gather information;
  3. Set up an plan;
  4. Decide on a clear alert system to notify relevant personal, should an incident arise;
  5. Brief and train team on what needs to be done when with what incident;
  6. Decide on stand down mechanisms. How will it be decided when the crisis has passed and what plans are in place to deal with the after effects.

 

The response to the incident must be scientifically based, effective, consistent, legal and well communicated.

 

 

 

 

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 February 10, 2014
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Food Safety

Management Review

BY Janice Giddy

Management review time again

 

The end of the year is a great time to reflect on whether our company’s Quality and Food Safety objectives were achieved and whether our Food Safety and Quality Management system achieved the desired results. The review meeting should be a summary of the monthly performance meetings and should not be the only meeting we have with our team to discuss our performance. We need to reflect on what worked and what did not. It is also the ideal time to think about next year and how we can do things differently in order to achieve better results.

 

So what does one discuss at the Management Review?

The ISO 22000 and the BRC standards provide clear requirements for the topics that should be discussed during this meeting. Ensure that the Management Review inputs are listed on the agenda and all the requirements of the relevant food safety standard are addressed. Some suggestions for ensuring a greater attendance and more interest in the Management Review meeting are as follows:

 

  • Send out your agenda a month prior to your meeting to ensure that everyone attending has sufficient time to prepare
  • Assign a 10 minute slot to each of the managers to provide feedback on the performance of the key business processes in their departments. Each Manager can present their agenda item using PowerPoint displaying graphs / charts to depict the results of their analysis
  • Maintenance can provide feedback on how much down time there was per month, how many Job Cards pertaining to food safety / quality issues were raised, how many job cards have been closed out or overdue etc
  • Sales can present an analysis of customer complaints e.g. how many complaints as a result of physical hazards, microbiological hazards, quality or service issues were raised per month over the year
  • The buying department can present an analysis of the supplier performance using the results of supplier assessments
  • Warehouse can present the quantity of expired stock / damaged / “on hold” stock or an age analysis of stock on hand
  • HR can present training conducted vs training planned and recommendations for new training in 2014
  • Production can provide feedback on the operation of the CCPs and an analysis on process performance vs process specifications
  • The Food Safety Team leader will need to present an analysis internal / external audit findings, corrective actions and the remaining items on the agenda pertaining to the performance of the Food Safety and Quality Management System

 

There should be an opportunity for everyone to discuss the information presented in-between the presentations so that minutes of the meeting include the signed and printed presentations from each manager but also the actions that will be taken to address problem areas or to identify opportunities for improvement. If regular performance meetings are held then there should be no surprises, arguments or lengthy debates at this meeting.

 

New Food safety and quality objectives need to be set for 2014. This is also the ideal opportunity to present plans for changes to: products, suppliers, raw materials, equipment, specifications etc to ensure that the Food Safety Team leader is aware of the changes and that the impact of the changes on food safety and quality are assessed prior to their implementation. Remember to have the managers sign an attendance register. The attendance register authenticates the meeting and is a good indication of the degree of management commitment towards the Food Safety and Quality Management System.

 

As you wrap up the year and clean out your files for next year, keep in mind the following quotation by Joel Osteen “See, when you drive home today, you've got a big windshield on the front of your car. And you've got a little bitty rearview mirror. And the reason the windshield is so large and the rearview mirror is so small is because what's happened in your past is not near as important as what's in your future” - Joel Osteen.

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 December 11, 2013
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Food Safety

Affordable Food Safety Training Solutions

BY Clarice Oelofse

Did you know? There are various grants available to assist with the implementation of scarce and critical skills.  Everything is becoming increasingly expensive, therefore we aim to bring you the best value for money food safety training that is available. Currently, you can consider the following opportunities:

 

FoodBev SETA:

FoodBev SETA has made grants available to companies/organisations within the Food and Beverage Sector for enrolment of learners on Skills Programmes. The grants are payable to employers to subsidise the cost of implementing skills programmes. A skills programme is defined as a group of unit standards (registered on the NQF) that gives the qualifying learner an employable skill. If you are levy-paying, you can make us of the Skills Programme Grant, and smaller non-levy paying companies can utilise the SME Grant. The value of the SME Grant is R30 000, and the Skills Programme Grant is not limited to a particular amount.

 

Applications for the SME Grant close on 9 November 2013, and the Skills Programme Grant is on-going, however, all training must be completed by 30 March 2014.

 

CATHSSETA:

The hospitality industry is made up of a broad category of fields within the service industry. This is a very lucrative industry that is dependent on the availability of leisure time and disposable income. The hospitality chamber at CATHSSETA covers 16 Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) codes. These include Hotels, Motels, Guest Houses, and Bed and Breakfasts, Restaurants, Fast Food Establishments, Caterers, Night Clubs, Pubs and Time Share.

 

Skills Programmes are covered in this grant, and the value is uncapped, but the regulations are quite strict. Applications close on 1 November.

 

TETA:

TETA also has a grant available for Smaller, Non-Levy Paying companies. The value of this grant is R15 000 per company per annum.

 

The following organisations may apply for support under this strategy:

 

SME's: Small & Micro Enterprises employing less than 50 employees.

  • Non-Levy Paying Enterprises (NLP): Organisations exempt from paying skills development levies and employing less than 50 employees.
  • BEE organisations: Black owned organisations (as outlined in the Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment Codes of Good Practice) employing less than 50 employees.

 

TETA will process applications on a monthly basis and all applications received on or before the 25th of a given month will be processed in the month in question; notice of approval (or rejection) will be made by the 7th day of the following month.

 

Agri SETA:

The funding window will open on 1 November and close on 31 January 2014. Keep visiting our web site for the latest updates.

 

Finally, remember the following:

  • We assist you with the application process at no extra cost;
  • Completing a WSP and ATR is the first step in applying for most grants (make sure you do this by April 2014);
  • Planned training must either be unit standard based (e.g. skills programs) or regulated (as contained in the current signed Memorandum of Understanding between the SETA and the regulatory authorities;
  • The DG’s are handed out at the SETA’s discretion, and is subject to budget availability.

 

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 October 21, 2013
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Food Safety

GFSi and Food Safety Management - What is the Link?

BY Mtho Moyo

In the past decade we have  seen a marked hype in food safety related issues Does it mean humans have now a weaker immune system or have we gone softer or is it a money making scheme? Perhaps there is a genuine concern in the safety of what we eat? Let us look at one of the role players in the food safety debate - GFSi.

 

Who or what is GFSi?

Stands for: Global Food Safety Initiative. The GFSi is a business-driven initiative for the continuous improvement of food safety management systems to ensure confidence in the delivery of safe food to consumers worldwide.

 

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 October 15, 2013
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Food Safety

Quality assurance advice (Q&A) - Volume 2

BY Rolf Uys

Rolf Uys works for AIB International, a prominent, USA based food safety training and auditing company. He holds the position of Manager for Africa, Middle East and Europe. Rolf holds a MSc. In Food Science from Stellenbosch and has 15 years’ experience in Food Safety Auditing and Training. During this time he has visited over 2000 food processing facilities across the globe.


He is very passionate about food safety and loves giving practical food safety advice in the line of his duties. He really wants to make a difference in helping South African food processing companies becoming world class. In this column he aims to offer a service to our readers by answering and giving practical advice to typical food safety questions.

 

Q: What exactly is Food Defence? Our audits require us to have a food defence programme. What does this entail? We have very good security procedure. Is this good enough?

 

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 October 07, 2013
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Food Safety

Quality assurance advice (Q&A) - Volume 1

BY Rolf Uys

Quality assurance advice (Q&A)

 

In this column, Rolf Uys offers a service to readers by answering queries regarding practical advice to typical food safety questions.

 

QUESTION: We train our employees every year on food safety. The Quality Department keeps on reinforcing food safety issues on a daily basis. But, most workers just don’t get it. How can we get the message across and get them to ‘see’ food safety the way we do?

 

This is a common problem the world over, but it’s particularly problematic in South Africa. The solution is not a simple one and cannot be achieved by one person alone. It needs to be a company wide effort.

 

The first principle you need to understand is ‘you cannot manage what you cannot measure’. Make sure food safety is measurable. It could be hygiene audit scores, customer complaints, number of serious food safety findings in internal audits, the number of foreign materials picked up off the floor or even hand swab results. These then need to be measured and communicated to all levels. The best way to do this is through short morning meetings with middle managers and junior workers. Discuss the important production issues of the day, but also include food safety measurables and tracking against targets. There need to be explanations and actions if targets aren’t met.

 

A particular technique that works really well is MDI (management for daily improvement). This involves posting all info visually across the factory on white boards. Every morning there should be a ‘boardwalk’, allowing each supervisor the opportunity to explain the measurables on his board. This goes a long way in creating teamwork and ownership. Food safety performance should be included as a pro-rata percentage in all personnel’s key performance areas. It’s very important that everyone realises that there are consequences for not meeting targets.

 

You shouldn’t ‘train’ personnel, but rather educate them. Training covers the ‘how’ to do something, while education covers the ‘why’ and ‘what’s in it for me’. Keep an updated matrix that tabulates the education modules per person, such as cleaning, allergen management, foreign objects, and so forth. Each module should be practical and must include observation evaluation in the workplace. Training modules need to be continually revised to keep track with the changing food industry. It takes effort to track measurables, to empower people and to maintain a training matrix. But, caring about your staff is the secret to not only a food safe workplace, but also a happy and productive one.

 

 

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 October 04, 2013
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Food Safety

Converting HACCP to FSSC 22000 Effectively and Scientifically Correct

BY Aileen Uys

The Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) food safety system started gaining popularity in South Africa in the mid 90’s. From the seafood and fruit industries who needed HACCP for export, it quickly spread into all food manufacturing establishments. Until recently, it has been the go-to system for companies wishing to export, satisfy customers or otherwise receive acknowledgment for their food safety programs. The national standard to which HACCP can be certified is SANS 10330.

 

As international trade grows and global safety standards get tougher, HACCP on its own is no longer deemed good enough. The industry is demanding more comprehensive and more globally accepted food safety standards. Enter FSSC 22000 (Food Safety Systems Certification 22000). This is accepted by the Global Food Safety Initiative and is ISO 22 000 (International Standards Organisation) based, that makes it easy to incorporate into other ISO based systems i.e. ISO 9000, 14 000 or 22000. FSSC 22000 is the most popular food safety certification system currently in South Africa, with BRC (British Retail Consortium) a close second. For modern food manufacturing companies that need recognition for their food safety program, FSSC 22000 is undoubtedly the way forward.

 

But, now what if you are a Food Manufacturer and have a HACCP program in place, and now feel ready to upgrade to FSSC 22000. How does one go about doing that in an efficient, cost effective manner, but also ensuring it is technically correct and will satisfy the customers?

 

FSSC 22000 consists of 2 standards namely ISO 22000 and ISO 22002/1. The former deals with the food safety management system (of which HACCP makes up a large chunk) and the latter is the prerequisites. The biggest task in the conversion process to FSSC 22000 is the working through the standards and writing and implementing procedures to satisfy all the required clauses. This does take time because there are plenty that are not covered by HACCP alone. The two aspects we find (that those who have HACCP and have attempted the conversion process), struggle with most is implementing OPRP’s (Operational Prerequisite Programs) and implementing a bioterrorism program. There are unique additions to FSSC 22000, that cannot be found in the traditional HACCP.

Then, off course a new policy manual needs to be written that encompasses all new FSSC 22000 procedures and refers to old HACCP and Prerequisites procedures. We at Entecom appreciate that this conversion process may become tedious and is filled with technical difficulties. But rest assured, we have assisted many companies in this process and could also guide your company through this process.

 

So, take guessing out of FSSC 22000 and let us help you convert. We have a range of solutions varying from FSSC 22000 hazard analysis, CCP and OPRP templates through to fixing your entire manual.

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 September 09, 2013
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Food Safety

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