All posts by Whitney Lee

AFDO Journeys Toward the Integrated Food Safety System Vision

As an AFDO industry member, Remco Products Corporation is proud to have participated in the 121st Association of Food and Drug Officials Conference this June. Over 400 members from federal, state, and local agencies, as well as members of industry groups, trade associations, consumer organizations, and academia, made the trip to Houston for the recent conference.

AFDO has, over time, become a recognized voice in promoting uniform, simplified, and efficient laws, regulations and guidelines related to food safety and public health. Their humble beginning predates the existence of the FDA by 10 years when in 1896, two state commissioners from Michigan and Ohio met in Toledo to discuss the difficulties of manufacturing food in one state and shipping it to another, where the same product may not have complied with the local statutory regulations.

The push for states to collaborate and come to a mutually acceptable solution eventually resulted in a streamlined regulatory solution across the states. With time, AFDO became a forerunner in publishing model codes and guidance for various foods, which have been used to formulate aligned state regulations. The defining moment arrived in 1998, when AFDO was the first to offer a vision of a national Integrated Food Safety System (IFSS) that would empower state and local authorities to collaborate effectively with their federal counterparts. The crowning glory came with the passage of FSMA in 2011, which shifted the FDA’s focus from the reactive to the preventive mode of addressing food safety risks, which also mandated the adoption of IFSS across the food supply network.

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Remco Products, Vikan to Host Food Safety Mini-Sessions at IAFP 2017

Remco and Vikan to sponsor 12 sessions on food safety and hygienic design

Remco Products and Vikan will present a series of short technical food safety seminars at this year’s IAFP convention. Eight speakers will deliver 12 timely sanitation and hygiene presentations. Each 15-minute presentation will take place at booth #321.

Presentation topics include hygienic design, minimizing cross-contamination, food safety regulation, validating cleaning processes, metal detectable brush bristles, and trends in food safety. Each speaker will take questions after their brief presentation, and the final session on Sunday offers a more interactive experience with a hygienic design of brushware workshop. The workshops begin at 8 p.m. on Sunday; 12:15 and 5:15 p.m. on Monday; and 12:15 p.m. on Tuesday.

Dr. John Holah, technical director of Holchem Laboratories, will start the series off on Monday. Holah is an applied microbiologist whose work focuses on the prevention of microbial, chemical, and foreign body contamination during food processing. He has written over 100 publications and given over 200 external presentations and is highly respected as a teacher.

Dr. Edyta Margas, food safety and hygienic design expert at Bühler AG, performs research, consultancy, and training in areas related to emerging processing methods and factory hygiene issues.

Deb Smith, Vikan’s global hygiene specialist, has over 30 years of food safety/research training and experience and has written and co-authored numerous food safety and hygiene publications.

Other speakers include:

  • Duane Grassman (market hygienist at Nestlé), who has over 40 years of sanitation, hygiene, and food safety experience.
  • Bill Bremer (principal, food safety compliance at Kestrel Management), who heads the food safety consulting group.
  • Dr. Stine Lønnerup Bislev (hygiene and compliance manager at Vikan), who holds a PhD in protein science and an MSc in biotechnology.
  • Amit Kheradia (education & technical support manager at Remco Products), who has over 12 years of food safety/quality and process technology training and experience.
  • Tom Kirby (director of national accounts at Accuform), who has over 27 years of experience with lean manufacturing techniques and 5S.

To see the schedule of presentations and learn more about the speakers or Remco Products and Vikan, please visit remcoproducts.com/IAFP2017.

How is HARPC Different From HACCP?

HACCP and HARPC share more than just four letters. They’re both food safety standards based on prevention, but they do differ on execution. Their differences and their similarities aren’t as important as the way they fit together for most food processors, though. A HARPC plan shouldn’t be considered as a replacement, but as a necessary upgrade to the conventional HACCP plan. Understanding how the systems fit together is the first step toward implementing both.

HACCP

HARPC

(1) Is the preventative approach based on a standard, guideline or a set of laws?
Based on a guideline recommended by CODEX and NACMCF Based on FSMA act and principally, the Final Rule for Preventive Controls for Human Food
(2) What food safety risks are considered using the preventative approach?
Conventional – Biological, Chemical, and Physical Beyond the conventional risks for actual and potential food safety hazards
(3) What is the goal of the preventative approach?
To prevent, eliminate (or) reduce hazards to a safe level (in that priority) Preventive controls that prevent or significantly minimize “known or reasonably foreseeable” risks
(4) Who is primarily responsible for the development and maintenance of the preventive plan?
Primarily, a competent HACCP coordinator with assistance from multidisciplinary team Trained Preventive Controls Qualified Individual (PCQI) as described in the FSMA Act
(5) At what frequency is the preventive plan being reviewed by the facility?
At least once a year, or when required At least once in 3 years, or when required
(6) The plan is mandatory for what type of establishments?
For FDA and USDA mandated establishments, or when required for certification purposes For all establishments along the food supply chain that serve U.S. consumers, unless exempted
(7) The plan is excluded or exempted for what type of establishments?
Unless mandated or required for certification, HACCP is voluntary, and GMPs are mandatory Exemption list is provided by FDA, but this does not exempt facilities from following at least CGMPs
(8) Who is the interested party here? For whom is the plan for?
Stakeholders: auditors, inspectors, and customers The FDA
(9) What is the documented approach for making the preventive plan?
12 Steps of HACCP (includes 7 Principles) 7 Steps of Developing a HARPC Plan

HARPC as an Upgrade to HACCP

HACCP, or Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points, is already widely used due to requirements from retailers, auditing standards, and inspectors, though the USDA and the FDA only mandate it for meat, seafood, and juice products. As a global standard conceptualized the 1960s, HACCP has been continually developed and updated. HACCP requires a multi-disciplinary team for implementation and follows prescriptive steps.

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FDA Final Rule on the Sanitary Transportation of Food Compliance Gains Momentum

 

The FDA’s final rule on the sanitary transportation of food went into effect June 6, 2016. Though larger carriers, shippers, and receivers should have their compliance plans in place, smaller companies (fewer than 500 employees and less than $27.5 million in annual receipts) still have two years from the rule publication date to comply with the requirements.

This final rule—the sixth of seven rulemakings for FSMA—was based on a combination of the Sanitary Transportation of Food Act of 2005 and about 240 submissions from transportation companies, food safety organizations, consumer advocacy groups, and more.

The rulemaking has been proposed to ensure:

  1. Proper refrigeration during transportation of foods that require it;
  2. That vehicles and food storage are adequately cleaned and sanitized; and
  3. That there is adequate protection for food during transport.

Waivers have been proposed to exempt carriers, shippers, and receivers who hold valid permits and are inspected under National Conference on Interstate Milk Shipments (NCIMS) Grade ‘‘A’’ Milk Safety Program only when they’re shipping Grade A milk and milk products. The exemption should also apply to retail and food service operations that hold valid permits only when they are engaged in transportation operations as receivers, or as shippers and carriers in operations in which food is relinquished to consumers after transportation from the establishment.

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Remco Corporation, Color-Coded Tool Provider, Adds Four New Positions

Food industry supplier sees growth in key customer service positions

Remco Products Corporation, which has been operating out of Zionsville for over 30 years, has recently undergone significant growth. The plastics company makes color-coded hygienic material handling tools and is the exclusive US partner of Vikan, a hygienic brushware company out of Denmark. The company cites rising demand for color-coded hygienic tools in the food processing industry as the bases for its recent growth.

“Customer support has always been our main focus, and with the additions to our staff in key training and customer service roles, we’re more able than ever to offer our customers the best-in-industry service they’re used to,” said Mike Garrison, Remco president.

Amit Kheradia fills the new position of educational and technical support manager. The position was created to provide support and training to the Remco team, their customers, and their end-users. Kheradia last worked at Talevas Consulting, where he held the position of food safety specialist for the fresh produce sector. He holds over 20 certifications from organizations like the FDA and the British Retail Consortium, and has worked for top-tier companies like ConAgra Foods. Kheradia brings 10 years of food industry experience to the position.

Dan Ollikainen was hired as the human resources manager. He graduated from Purdue University with a degree in organizational leadership. Before Remco, he worked as a human resources generalist for 5 years at Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate, LLC, and, prior to that, served as an employment manager and coordinator for Hyatt Regency Sarasota.

After nine years at Grainger as an account manager, Matt Morrow became one of Remco’s newest business development managers. Morrow lives in the Memphis, Tenn., area and will be a resource for Remco’s customers in the South.

Dave Gambrall joins Remco from Ray Skillman Auto Group, where he worked as a business/sales manager who helped open a new franchise and oversaw 20 sales team members. Gambrall will take on the business development manager position in the Great Plains states for Remco Products.

Remco looks forward to growing even more in the coming year, along with completing renovations to its Zionsville, Ind., offices to accommodate the growing staff and make the most of the space.

Common Food Industry Cleaning Problems Solved

The goal of any good sanitation plan is to minimize cross-contamination and cross-contact through better hygiene and cleaning practices. But—what happens when workers can’t feasibly reach that tall ceiling fixture or get a brush to follow the curves of a spiraling pipe? If employees don’t have the right tools for the job, they’ll end up improvising sub-par solutions, or—even worse—they just won’t clean that area.

Here are some examples of specialty tools solving common cleaning problems in food processing plants:

High walls

Standard handles just aren’t going to reach all the way up a factory’s walls. Use a telescopic handle to clean walls top-to-bottom. Because they’ll need to be adjusted many times, handles should be easy to extend and shorten. Ideally, they should also be hollow to minimize weight for worker comfort and to make the handles easier to control at longer lengths.

Ceiling and pipe condensation

Sometimes handled by makeshift tools like a sock on a telescopic pole, cleaning condensation is vital to food safety and deserves its own tool. Condensation dripping into food or processing equipment can lead to microbial cross-contamination and a costly recall. Use a condensation squeegee to prevent drops from forming and falling into products. A condensation squeegee catches and drains water from overhead into either tubing or bottles to keep products safe.

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5S in the Food Industry

Sort, straighten, shine, standardize, and sustain. These five principles comprise the 5S lean manufacturing method that originated in Japan. While 5S can help any organization, the principles contained in the alliterative method should especially appeal to those in food processing for its ability to promote food safety through a clean, safe, and organized workplace.

5S principles are based on the idea that a well organized and clean workplace increases employee satisfaction, promotes worker safety, and decreases product waste. 5S relies on everything having its own place that’s easily identifiable. Like color-coding, 5S uses the idea of a “visual factory” that lets workers know at a glance where tools are and where they should be put back after they’re cleaning.

Sort

For the sort step, work areas should be cleared of things that aren’t needed daily. Discard junk that’s broken or simply not needed, along with broken tools. Items that are needed, but only on an infrequent basis, should be moved to storage. If an item is misplaced or stored illogically, it should be moved to a more convenient location.

Sorting can help minimize chances of cross-contamination and cross-contact by sorting food-contact and non-food-contact items apart from each other.
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Remco Announces New Lobby Dustpan and Broom for Food Processors

High-quality lobby dustpan and broom set is FDA-compliant and color-coded

Food processors have a new choice in lobby dustpan and broom sets. Remco Products is putting out a high-quality lobby dustpan set made of FDA-approved materials. The handles are made of sturdy aluminum and the dustpan itself is made of polypropylene, a durable and food-safe plastic, and is manufactured right here in the United States.

Remco knows the value of hygienically designed cleaning tools in the food processing industry. Smooth angles and a lack of crevices make the hygienically designed dustpan easy to keep clean, and don’t provide a space for bacteria to grow and multiply in. The handles detach for easy cleaning, too.

The dustpan smoothly swings open and closed on two hinges that lock into the open position to make sweeping into and emptying the pan easier. Store the broom in the fitted capture located on the dustpan lid to carry and store the set as one unit. The included broom is made of polypropylene and medium-textured polyester bristles. The bristles are ideal for sweeping up small and large particles.

The large, 7” by 14” bin allows for big and small cleanup jobs while the tall, 37” handle prevents back pain that stems from leaning over shorter dustpans. The dustpan is ideally suited for food processing facilities, where hygienically designed, food-safe tools are needed. However, they can also be useful in many different applications where a hygienic and sturdy dustpan and broom set is needed.

The lobby dustpan and broom set will come in nine different colors to promote HACCP color-coding plans, like many of Remco’s tools. The colors can be used to designate which zone the dustpan set should be used in. This means products that touch raw meat won’t be used in zones where finished products are being packaged. Keeping zones separate helps prevent cross-contamination and allergen cross-contact.

The Lobby Dustpan set will be available for purchase April 1, 2017. In the meantime, customers who have questions about it may contact cs@remcoproducts.com or go online for more information at http://remcoproducts.com/lobbydustpans/.

 

FDA Inspection Checklist

Remco Products presents Food Industry Counsel’s FDA Inspection Checklist as a part of our commitment to bringing our audience the best information in the food industry. We don’t endorse any legal services or provide legal advice. For legal services or advice, please consult your attorney.  You can also contact Shawn Stevens, the author of this post, at stevens@foodindustrycounsel.com.

What to do Before, During and After Your Next FDA Inspection

Food Industry Counsel, LLC is pleased to provide you with the most comprehensive and useful FDA Inspection Checklist available. With the passage of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was given the mission of overhauling the safety of the nation’s food supply. The new FSMA regulations written by FDA are now coming into effect, and the agency is now aggressively enforcing its new rules during routine inspections. Within the coming years, FDA Investigators will conduct an onsite inspection of every food facility in the U.S.

Here are FDA’s new enforcement priorities during routine unannounced inspections:

(1) To carefully critique each company’s written food safety programs and verification records to ensure they are compliant with the new FSMA requirements;

(2) To conduct extensive Zone 1, Zone 2, Zone 3 and Zone 4 microbiological sampling inside all food facilities to find evidence of pathogenic contamination;

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How to Prepare a New Cleaning Tool for Use

New cleaning tools—especially those sealed in plastic pouches like the ones from Vikan and Remco—often look like they’re ready for use right out of the bag. It’s easy to assume these tools can start sweeping, mopping, and brushing right away, however, as most in the food industry know, looking clean isn’t the same as actually being clean. Here are a few steps that must be taken to ensure all new tools are ready for use in food production plants:
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