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FOOD SAFETY FOR THE TRANSPORT & STORAGE STAGES

Janice Giddy
 October 09, 2020
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We are often so focused on the manufacturing process that we may neglect the storage and transport processes. I have learned that clear inspection and verification protocols for the receiving, storage and transport stages will save a multitude of non-conformances and customer
complaints. At the receiving step, you can identify a food safety issue before the product is accepted into storage and introduces a contamination risk to other products in the storage area or even worse still, at a later stage during the manufacturing process.

 

Similarly, if we consider that unless product food safety and quality is maintained during the transport  stage, all of the time, expense and effort that has gone into achieving the food safety and quality standards in the manufacturing process may be flawed.
Joins us as we discuss how to implement the food safety requirements for storage and transport in 10 Steps. Perhaps you will realise as we go through these requirements together, that the storage and transport steps deserve more scrutiny and that there may well be some areas for improvement in your current food safety system.

Which legislation, standards or guidelines can I refer to for Transport and Storage?

When implementing your food safety controls for the transport and storage of food, you need to have the following documents in your technical library as references:

  • R638 (Regulations Governing General Hygiene Requirements for Food Premises, The Transport of Food and Related Matters)
  • SANS 10156: 2014 (South African National Standard for the Handling of Chilled and Frozen Foods)
  • ISO/TS 22002-5 Prerequisite Programmes on Food Safety – Transport and Storage
  • SANS 10049-2019 Food Safety Management – Requirements for Prerequisite Programmes

Lets tackle the required food safety practices for transport and storage in 10 steps:

step 1: document your transport and storage processes

Document how you store your raw materials, packaging, semi-processed product and finished product to ensure that product integrity, safety and quality is maintained. This also applies to the products during the transport step. The reason why you document a process is to map out why and how a process needs to be followed so that:

  • It is clear to everyone how the process is performed
  • It covers sufficient detail to set a standard to that the objectives of the process are met
  • It will ensure consistency and prevent deviations / errors

Where do I start?

Begin with the main objective
The Purpose / Objective of the procedure is to ensure that raw materials, packaging, semiprocessed and finished products are stored and transported in such a way that product
traceability, integrity, safety and quality is maintained.


What should I include in this procedure?
You may have different types of raw materials that require different controls to ensure that food safety and quality is maintained. Remember that when it comes to food safety it is all about minimising risk.

  • Start by grouping your products into different categories that require similar controls
  • Categorise your raw materials, packaging, semi-processed and finished product into chilled,
    frozen, allergen containing ingredients, chemicals, flavourants etc.
  • Alternatively you could also use the categories provided in the ISO/TS 22002-5 standard as per below:
    “a) unpacked goods, not temperature - and/or other condition-controlled
    b) unpacked goods, temperature - and/or other condition-controlled
    c) packed goods, not temperature - and/or other condition-controlled
    d) packed goods, temperature - and/or other condition-controlled.”
  • For temperature sensitive products, prefer to the Annexure A of the R638 regarding the temperature requirements for the various product categories.
  • Identify the various food safety hazards that may be present, introduced or may increase during the storage and transport processes. Some examples are:
    • Microbiological contamination of unpacked product from staff, equipment or environment or due to damages or perhaps bacterial growth in temperature sensitive products from temperature abuse
    • Physical contamination from damaged pallets, dust, broken glass or pests
    • Chemical contamination from cleaning chemicals, other hazardous chemicals stored in the same storage area, product tainting
    • Allergen contamination – cross-contamination from leaking allergen containing products or spillages, allergen containing powders etc.

What is the best way to document the process?

There are many ways in which you could document your information;

  • Writing the Procedure: Describing the controls by grouping information using headings and subheadings
  • Compiling a Process Flow Diagram: Drawing a map of the main steps in the process and identifying the main controls per step
  • Summarising information in a table
  • Or you could use any combination of the above – the standards do not dictate how you
    should document your Storage and Transport Process

How detailed does the documented procedure need to be ?

We say that there needs to be sufficient detail to ensure clarity. Do not bog the process down with too much detail; everyone should know how to do their jobs. The idea here is to provide an overview / birds-eye view of how the storage and transport processes are to be managed and controlled to achieve the objectives.

STEP 2: CHECK THE internal layout and workplace is suitable

External layout - some points to consider

  • Put a fence around your boundary to control access
  • Check that the site is clean, free of redundant material / clutter and that the
    vegetation is neat and lawns kept trim
  • Roads, yards and parking areas should be maintained in good condition and free of
    stagnant water

Internal layout

  • Provide adequate space to segregate goods to prevent the risk of cross contamination
    (e.g liquid from powders, allergen containing from non-allergen
    containing)
  • Store chemicals and processing aids in a separate locked facility when not in use
  • Ensure that the floors, walls, ceilings, fittings and fixtures are maintained in a good
    condition to prevent pest entry or harbourage, allow adequate cleaning and prevent any
    contamination to the goods
  • Ensure that batch codes and Best Before Dates are clearly visible to enable efficient
    stock rotation and traceability
  • Ensure a logical flow of goods and staff to prevent congestion, injury to staff damage and potential cross-contamination to goods
  • Ensure that temperature sensitive products are moved into the correct temperature
    controlled environment as soon as possible to avoid possible temperature abuse
  • Implement controls to minimise the entry of dust and pests during loading and offloading
  • Have a dedicated segregated area for storing non-conforming product, damaged
    stock and customer returns
  • Implement access control measures to prevent unauthorised access to goods

STEP 3: Check suitable Control of utilities

Ensure suitable air quality and ventillation

  • Prevent airflow from dirty/contaminated areas to clean areas e.g from unwashed fruit to washed fruit
  • Control air supply if there is a risk of airborne contamination to vulnerable unpacked
    products
  • Examine, clean and maintain exterior air intake ports routinely to ensure physical
    integrity

Gases and Compressed Air

  • Gases and compressed air intended for food contact should be approved for food
    contact use and filtered as close to the point of use as possible to remove dust, oil and
    water

Water

  • Potable water should be used in staff canteens, handwashing and drinking water
  • Non-potable may be used where there is no risk to food safety e.g cleaning of
    surrounding area to stores, fire-fighting, urinals, flushing toilets or cooling towers
  • Non-potable water must be clearly identified and not connected to the potable water
    system to prevent mixing

Light

  • The light intensity should be compliant with the R638 requirements.
  • See below extract from the R638: “artificial illumination which complies with the requirements of the National Building Regulations and the Building Standards Act. 1977, which permits an illumination strength equal to at least 200 lux: Provided that the intensity of the lighting must be adequate based on the nature of the operation and lighting fixtures are appropriately protected to prevent glass contamination of food.”

STEP 4: IMPLEMENT PERSONNEL HYGIENE PRACTICES

Ensure that your Personnel Hygiene Procedure includes the requirements for staff and contractors who work in or enter the storage areas. The Personnel Hygiene Procedure should as a minimum address the following requirements:

  • Changing Procedures
  • Personal lockers
  • Storing of food
  • Standard of work wear / PPE and standard of cleanliness
  • Handling / reporting of illness and injuries
  • Handwashing practices
  • Personal behaviour
  • Health and safety requirements

STEP 5: Implement the REQUIRED ENVIRONMENTAL CONTROL CONDITIONS

A control system should be implemented to ensure that the temperature, humidity and
other environmental conditions are appropriately controlled to ensure food safety is
not compromised

  • Temperature monitoring systems and alerts should be in place where deviations occur
  • Temperature monitoring devices should be calibrated by accredited service providers
  • Refer to Annexure A in the R638 for the required temperature control conditions
  • Refer to SANS 10156 (South African National Standard for the Handling of Chilled and
    Frozen foods) for temperature and humidity guidelines

STEP 6: Implement a preventive MAINTENANCE programme
(buildings, utilities, vehicles and Equipment)

  • Compile a preventive maintenance programme for all equipment, vehicles (trucks,
    logistic units, pallet jacks, forklifts, racking / shelving, light fittings, doors, walls, floors,
    windows, ventilation systems, air conditioning units, temperature monitoring / recording
    devices etc.
  • Include maintenance inspections during the monthly GMP audits

STEP 7: Implement a Pest Control
Programme

Ensure that your current Pest Control Programme for your facility includes:

  • Storage areas and surrounds
  • Vehicles
  • Logistic units

STEP 8: Implement a Cleaning,
Disinfection and waste Control Programme

Include the cleaning and disinfection as well as verification of cleaning for storage areas, grounds, vehicles, logistic units, equipment, overhead structures, conveyors, waste storage containers, staff facilities, cleaning equipment etc

  • Ensure that the programme addresses responsibilities, method of cleaning, cleaning
    equipment required, chemical and concentration, frequency of cleaning and verification
    of cleaning efficacy
  • Waste management - implement systems to ensure the following:
    • Waste materials are identified, stored, collected and removed in a manner that
      does not introduce contamination to the storage and transport areas
    • Approved designated waste contractors should be used for the removal and
      destruction of waste
    • Hazardous substances should be appropriately identified, stored, handled and
      controlled to ensure legal compliance and prevention of accidental
      contamination to goods

STEP 9: Implement Identification and
Traceability Systems

Visually inspect goods upon receipt and dispatch to verify and record batch code and
quantity of goods received and dispatched. Traceability information may include:

  • Goods and quantity
  • Supplier information
  • Date of receipt
  • Best before or use-by dates
  • Product temperature (where applicable)
  • Integrity of packaging
  • Condition of transport vehicle (weather-proof, free from signs of pests, clean,
    tamper proof, smell, possible contamination from other products transported)
    standard of cleanliness
  • Vehicle temperature
  • Vehicle registration number
  • Driver name

The R638 Regulation 10 (16) requires that traceability records are maintained for at
least 6 months after the shelf-life of the product.

STEP 10: Implement measures to safeguard goods

Ensure that your current Food Defence and Food Fraud Procedures address the protection of your food products during storage and transport. Implement measures to protect your goods from deliberate contamination from:

  • Theft, vandalism and sabotage
  • Mislabelling, counterfeiting or tampering
  • Control access to the storage and logistic units as well your confidential information
  • Implement incoming goods inspections as well as inspections on goods prior to
    loading to verify that goods have not been tampered with or compromise
  • Remember that the R638 requires that your transport vehicles are issued with a
    COA (Certificate of Acceptability), this includes any outsourced transport vehicles
    for perishable products.

HOW CAN ENTECOM HELP YOU?

We know that many food businesses struggle to make sense of all the food safety compliance requirements and end up feeling overwhelmed, stressed out and wasting a lot of time and money. We have a digital food safety management solution to help you convert from paper to paperless that you can manage your food safety system with ease.
With Entecom Online, our Food Safety App, we help you manage your Food Safety System for your digitally enabling you to eliminate the inefficiencies and frustrations associated with a manual system


With Entecom Online you can:

  • Stop wasting your precious time hunting for documents every month
  • Eliminate the need for staff having to capture data twiceprevent staff from forgetting to complete food safety tasks
  • Reduce the time wasted associated with manual internal audits and report writing.
  • Prevent non-conformities from slipping through the cracks

To learn more about Entecom Online, our Affordable Digital Food Safety Solution

Click here Contact us at info@entecom.co.za  or (041) 3661970 for more information. We love hearing from you and look forward to taking your call.

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