Training & Development

Over the last quarter, Remco’s Training and Development team provided cost-free technical support and training to several distributors and end-users. Our training included helping distributors identify opportunities and sell solutions that meet the challenges of HACCP. We also trained end-users on the proper care and maintenance of tools, and the principles of hygienic design.

In April, we attended the Conference for Food Protection held in Boise, Id. One of the overarching themes of the conference was the influence of consumers on the food industry. Consumers are pushing food safety at retail and introducing new challenges. These challenges include the anti-processing movement, reducing food waste, limiting produce related outbreaks, detecting biofilms, and the changing mindset of employees. Stay tuned for future newsletters, articles, and whitepapers from Remco as we continue to keep abreast of these trends.

Also in April, we attended the Food Safety Summit in Chicago, Ill. At the conference, Mike Taylor, deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine, gave his final talk before leaving the FDA. Taylor discussed his view on the industry’s progress toward FSMA compliance, and made a point to express his gratitude and appreciation of all the people responsible for championing food safety. Taylor believes the hardest part of implementation is still to come, as the industry moves toward complying with operational requirements. Another key takeaway of the conference came from Joe Corby, the executive director of AFDO. Corby encouraged consumers and industry to make sure legislators continue to fund food safety efforts so the movement maintains momentum.

The members of Remco’s Training and Development team are looking forward to interfacing with distributors and end-users over the next few months. The industry has many new challenges to discuss, and Remco has many potential solutions to share. If you or your company needs additional support, contact us. We are eager to help.

From the Sales Desk

First, thank you for helping us get off to a strong start in 2016. We value every business relationship and we know our growth is dependent on building strong partnerships with end users and distributors. We promise to continue offering the highest levels of service, support, and products that have made you turn to us for your sanitation and material handling needs over the years.

One exciting example of our commitment to the market is our internal continuing education program. Last year every member of our business development team received his HACCP certification. This year we are working toward additional certifications in Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs). Additionally, several members of our support staff are working through various food-safety training programs. We view continuing education as a critical function for staying up to date on the needs of the industry and providing the expertise you need.

Remco is also excited for the continued expansion of our sales team. Over the last quarter, we added additional sales staff to better support our strategic partners and build new relationships with others. As we grow, we are making conscious efforts to continue our high level of service and support.

With another busy show season approaching, we are excited to see many familiar and some new faces. Please let us know if you will be attending any of these upcoming events.

  • • IAFP 2016 – 7/31/16 – 8/3/16 at Booth #920
  • • ISSA Interclean 2016 – 10/26/16-10/28/16 at Booth #3154
  • • IPPE 2017 – 1/31/17 – 2/2/17

If you would like to schedule a face-to-face meeting while attending one of these shows, please contact Rob Middendorf at rmiddendorf@remcoproducts.com or Dustin Milstead at dmilstead@remcoproducts.com.

Challenges

Every business and market has challenges, if they did not, businesses would never fail. The trick for each of us is identifying those impediments and determining how they will affect our companies and markets.

FSMA was created to help overcome the many challenges faced by the food industry, but with its creation comes even greater obstacles.

While there are obvious challenges to the food industry like recalls, foodborne illness, and hygienic design, solutions are not always so obvious.

The products Remco offers are part of the solution. Our challenge is determining what else we can do to help you overcome your challenges. Whether you are a seller trying to connect your customers to the best solutions, or a food producer trying to determine how to most effectively create and implement a color coding plan, our goal is getting you not only the products you need but the support as well.

Thank you for your business and we look forward to continued success.

Regards,

Mike Garrison
President Remco Products

Newsletter – Q1, 2016

White Paper: The Hygienic Design of Food Industry Brushware

The Hygienic Design of Food Industry Brushware White Paper

Minimising Contamination, Maximising Food Safety
The Hygienic Design of Food Industry Brushware – the good, the bad and the ugly

Cleaning is a critical step in the management of food safety. Consequently, the correct selection of cleaning equipment by the food manufacturing and food service industries is essential to minimize the risk of product contamination, and aid compliance to relevant regulatory, guidance and standard requirements.

This white paper Vikan will help you understand:

  1. Hygienic design criteria
  2. Hygienic design assessment of food industry brushware
  3. Compare the different types brushware used in the food industry
  4. The benefits of using UST products in hygiene critical areas

Download this White Paper

What you need to know about FSMA: Part 1

If you are in the food industry and have had your eyes and ears open, then most likely you have heard the word FSMA being thrown around… a lot. However, some people might find themselves unfamiliar with the term or have limited knowledge of it, so in this entry we are going to cover some general information regarding FSMA and in upcoming blogs we will go into further detail about each proposed rule issued by the FDA that supports this legislation.

image00

The people, pathogens and food of today are not those of the past. Our population is living longer and with problems that make them more susceptible to foodborne illness complications. Pathogens are evolving and becoming more adaptable and harder to kill. Our food is traveling more than it ever has. For example, the FDA states that 15% of food we eat is imported. A total 75% of our seafood, 20% of our vegetables, and 50% of our fruit is imported. However, one thing has not changed and that is the threat that foodborne illness presents to the food industry and its consumers. Continue reading What you need to know about FSMA: Part 1

Hosting My First Thanksgiving

Hosting a Thanksgiving dinner is already stressful to begin with, especially if you have a large family like myself, but being a food safety enthusiast added a whole new level of importance to the holiday because I wanted to take this opportunity to teach my family more about food safety.

Thanksgiving Turkey

In my family we rotate who hosts Thanksgiving so it doesn’t fall on the same person every year to do all the work…and this year was my year.  I was so excited because my husband and I just recently got a house and I was anxious to show off my hosting, cooking, and most importantly, my food safety skills.

The whole process started about two weeks before the event when I went to the grocery store to get the turkey. I worried that if I procrastinated buying the turkey then the store would run out. (Side note…I went to the store the day before Thanksgiving to grab last minute items and there were TONS of turkeys left). I put the turkey in the freezer when I got home.

As the host, we were responsible for the turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and a sweet potato and carrot sauté, while the rest of the family was responsible for other various traditional Thanksgiving dishes.  About five days before Thanksgiving I went and bought the rest of the ingredients and promptly put them in the refrigerator or pantry when I got home.  A few days before Thanksgiving, I moved the turkey from the freezer to the refrigerator to safely start thawing and I also cubed loaves of bread to lay out to dry out for the stuffing (my family does not actually stuff the turkey, so some may call this dressing).

Food Thermometer

The day before Thanksgiving was prep time, so I washed and cut celery, diced onion, peeled and cut carrots and cleaned the turkey.  I stored the prepped ingredients in proper containers and put them in the refrigerator until the big day.  While doing so, I made sure to wash my hands, utensils, and countertops thoroughly between handling the raw turkey and my produce. No cross-contamination at this house!  I also calibrated my meat thermometer in case I had to get a new one. (You can do this by boiling a pot of water, sticking your thermometer in the water, not touching the pot, for 1 minute and you should read a temperature between 210-214°F).

The day of Thanksgiving, after the oven was preheated, I got Fred out of the refrigerator (yes, I named the turkey) and put him into the roaster, smothered him with butter, surrounded him with stuffing, and put him in the oven covered.

Meanwhile, my sister-in-law brought appetizers that we snacked on before the big dinner, such as cheese and crackers, deviled eggs, and chex mix. I made sure to refrigerate the perishable items as soon as she arrived, and only put out a portion of each appetizer at a time and refilled the snacks only when needed, leaving nothing out that should be refrigerated for more than 2 hours.

I checked the turkey about every hour to baste and stir the stuffing, meanwhile getting the rest of the food prepared and cooked. Finally, after 4.5 hours the thermometer read 165°F when I checked the turkey. I did this by inserting the thermometer in to the meatiest portion of the turkey and made sure to not get too close to the bone because that will give an inaccurate reading. The rest of the food was ready, so we feasted!

After Thanksgiving dinner, my husband and I cleaned the dishes and stored the leftovers in the refrigerator right away. I did not sit until all the leftovers were put in shallow containers (to allow for quicker cooling than deep containers). I divided the leftovers into individual containers for my family members to take home. I made sure to make it a point to tell them as a general rule to freeze or eat the leftovers within 3-4 days and to put the containers in the refrigerator as soon as they get home.

All in all, I was in the kitchen for about 8 hours that day. It was stressful, exhausting, and completely wonderful. I practice food safety in my everyday life, but this time I wanted to set an example for my family to observe and practice when it is their turn to host.

For more information on Thanksgiving and Holiday food safety please visit:  
http://www.cdc.gov/features/turkeytime/ 
http://www.fda.gov/Food/FoodborneIllnessContaminants/BuyStoreServeSafeFood/ucm328131.htm

Using Color-Coding for Food Safety and Organization

Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of consulting with food processors to build and improve color-coding systems in their facilities. Color-coding can be approached in a variety of ways, and works well with a number of related programs. One such program is a lean manufacturing practice called 5S, which I encountered often in a previous position working in the steel industry.

I’m starting to see 5S used more often in food processing. Although I am not an expert in this system developed by the Japanese, I do know that the 5 S’s are Sort, Set in Order, Shine, Standardize, and Sustain. The aim is to eliminate waste, keep workspaces organized, and develop procedures that are consistently easy to follow. I can see why this set of guidelines is appealing to food processors. An organized processing facility is agreeable with inspection authorities, because it demonstrates that a food safety procedure is defined and in practice.

Color-coding for food safety

Color-coding is also commonly applied in conjunction with written food safety plans and HACCP programs to further enhance food safety. The purpose of HACCP and the CGMP regulations laid out in 21 CFR 110 is to identify and control hazards that could potentially impact the safety of food. Cleaning and food contact tools can potentially transfer hazards like pathogens and allergens throughout the facility, so it may be important to keep certain tools in designated areas. Color-coding supports this objective by clearly identifying where tools belong or what task they are designated to perform.

food safety color coding for controlled areas and tasks

Color-coding best supports food safety efforts when it is applied with simplicity. A best practice to keep in mind is that the way to create the most effective color-coding program is to implement tools in one solid color. Otherwise the program may become diluted and can introduce more confusion for employees.

Organizing tools with color

When food safety is a concern, it should take precedence over organizational efforts when building a color-coding program. A system like 5S is excellent in supporting a food safety program such as HACCP. However, colors should primarily be determined by the food safety program prior to defining organization principles related to 5S.

Fitting all of these programs together can be challenging, but it is possible and most definitely beneficial to food safety efforts. Anytime you need guidance or advice on building or revising a color-coding system in your food facility, you can call on Remco for support.

Food Contact Tool Storage Best Practices

In many of my visits to food production plants, I see outstanding food safety procedures that can be shared as best practices. One of the easiest and most beneficial best practices to adopt is proper storage of food contact and cleaning tools. Selecting the right tools for specific tasks can mean a significant investment of time and other resources. A good storage plan for those tools will help to protect that investment and enhance food safety efforts.

Wall with Full Red Bracket color-coded food contact toolsThe way a food contact or cleaning tool is stored is almost as important as the tool itself. Implementing a hygienic tool storage system takes some time and effort, but will also provide many benefits once set up correctly. These benefits include better organization, prolonged life of tools, and maintaining the sanitary conditions of tools.

From an organizational perspective, having a storage plan ensures that tools are where you need them, when you need them. Production line supervisors are able to check defined tool locations at the conclusion of each shift. Showing a visual representation of the tools designated for the area enables each supervisor to quickly verify if tools are missing and identify the correct part number for any tools that need to be reordered. Also, tools go missing less often when a storage plan is specified.

Tools that are stored neatly in an area that allows adequate space helps to keep them from colliding or bumping against other objects. Rough contact with other objects can potentially cause breakage, in turn introducing a risk for physical hazards in the facility. In addition, bristles on brushes and brooms can become misshapen and tangled if they are allowed to rest directly on the floor or other surfaces for extended periods of time. It’s a good idea to regularly inspect tools for wear or extraneous damage. If the storage method is contributing to wear, it’s time to make a change. Getting the maximum lifespan out of food contact tools translates to better operational efficiency.

The most important consideration of a storage system for food contact and cleaning tools is that tools are maintained in a sanitary state before being put to use again. Floors are a common surface in a facility for the transport of contaminants, so tools that have been cleaned should be stored off of the floor using a wall bracket or other sanitary mounting option. This is particularly imperative for tools that directly or indirectly contact food, as a tool that has touched the floor introduces a great risk of contamination. In this sense, designating a tool storage location that suspends tools off the ground can protect the integrity of your code-compliant facility and your end product.

Once the tool storage plan has been identified, it should be included in the written food safety plan for the facility. If you need help or guidance with your tool storage program, call Remco. That’s what we’re here for. We can help you determine the best practices to maintain hygiene in your facility. For more information, download a copy of our white paper, “Selection, Care and Maintenance Guide for Food Contact Tools and Equipment.”

Being a Food Safety-Minded Consumer

As a consumer with a passion for food and cooking, I know a thing or two about food safety in the kitchen. In my time at Remco, I’ve learned a lot more and have become acutely aware of all the considerations for the safety of our food as it moves from farm to fork. I am amazed at how much food safety professionals need to know in order to perform their daunting jobs.

Lettuce greens and food safetyI try to be aware of basic food safety guidelines in my kitchen. I use a meat thermometer to be sure the food is within the safe range, but also because I prefer not to overcook it. I avoid the cans with dents at the grocery, because the good ones stack better in the pantry—but also because some dents may compromise the integrity of the product. I clean my grill tools before flipping food if they’ve come into contact with raw meat, and I always use a fresh plate to bring food back inside.

Now that I’ve worked closely within the food industry for over three years, I’m starting to think a little differently about my own food safety. My new awareness goes beyond my own kitchen. Lately I’ve started to wonder about the food safety efforts at the facilities that produce the food I buy. And I’ll tell you, when I hear about a producer going above and beyond for food safety, it sticks with me.

A great example is Earthbound Farms—a California salad greens grower and packager. I read recently that they are BRC validated, which requires very rigorous third-party audits. As a consumer, the fact that they have pursued food safety validations above and beyond requirements tells me that they really care about the safety of their consumers. And they are very transparent about their food safety program. They’ve gained a loyal consumer in me.

With that being said, food safety in my kitchen now starts with getting to know a little bit more about where my food comes from—not just the temperature it arrives at when I’m done cooking it. I now seek information about the food safety programs of producers I purchase from, and I’m willing to spend a bit more if I know that they are diligent in their efforts.