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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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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2017 Letter from the President of Remco Products

As we look forward to the rest of 2017, I am excited about the future of Remco. 2016 was a banner year for Remco and we are reinvesting in our business to ensure the continued success of our customers. This year Remco has already added four new staff positions that directly support our customers. We added an additional business development manager, an account manager, a new market development manager, and a product manager. In 2017, we also plan to add two additional business development managers and an education and technical support manager. All of these new positions strengthen the level of support that we can provide our customers and further my goal of making Remco a trusted partner in food manufacturing sanitation programs.

With the growth in Remco’s staffing levels, we are also growing the physical space of our offices. We are currently in the midst of a construction and renovation project that will add new conference rooms and a large new meeting room, and revamp existing offices. The total project will effectively double the amount of usable office space at our facility and provide improved opportunities for on-site food safety trainings and presentations.

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

Regards,
Mike Garrison

What are Documents of Compliance in Food Processing?

Food contact surfaces like cleaning and material handling tools must comply with the FDA’s rules about what they can contain and how they must be designed. FDA CFR21 110 Subpart C, states that “Food-contact surfaces shall be corrosion-resistant when in contact with food. They shall be made of nontoxic materials and designed to withstand the environment of their intended use and the action of food, and, if applicable, cleaning compounds and sanitizing agents.”

There currently isn’t an obligation to test finished products to comply with FDA regulations, however, it is a generally accepted practice to provide documents that show the base materials of food contact tools are FDA compliant.

But, companies that trade with Europe must follow a much stricter set of documentation laws. According to Regulation (EC) No 1935/2004 and Regulation (EU) No 10/2011, each food contact material (FCM) needs to undergo migration testing and be declared safe for food use.
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New-Employee-Proof Your Safety Plan with Color Coding

In the food processing industry, like many factory-based jobs, employee turnover is high. When you’re seeing a turnover rate of about 35% yearly, how do you train your staff to follow important safety plans? When you’re in an industry where a simple mistake by a single employee could result in thousands of people getting sick, how do you ensure HACCP compliance?

For many, color coding has become the easiest answer. Color coding offers a simple solution to an otherwise complex problem. Even the newest employee can quickly learn that red products belong with the raw product, and white goes with the finished.

Here are our top 5 tips to using color coding to ensure all of your employees follow CGMPs.

  1. Set up cleaning stations

    Cleaning stations serve as a visual reminder that everything has its place. Put a sign over a station filled with blue tools to remind everyone that those tools are used to clean floors in the packing area, and another sign over a pink wall bracket to tell employees that those tools are used in receiving. Cleaning stations also remind employees to hang tools back up once they’ve been cleaned.

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Catalogs Now Available in French and Spanish

For the convenience of our customers, we now offer our catalogs in two additional languages. Québécois French was requested by our Canadian customers who wanted an easier way to browse our hygienically designed color-coded tools in their native language. A Latin American Spanish catalog is also available. Our catalogs contain category descriptions and each of our products along with their color availability and technical specs.

To order a catalog in a non-English language, please choose the appropriate language in the drop-down “Catalog Type” field on the catalog request form on this page of our website. You can also instantly download a full PDF of our catalog in all three languages on the same page if you prefer digital.

Selling Your Organization on Color Coding

Color coding benefits everyone from the company CEO to individual workers. Selling your organization on color coding is as easy as learning what appeals to each position, and presenting the benefits. Whether you’re a plant safety officer or a salesperson at a distribution company, here’s what you need to know to gain organizational buy-in.

Plant Owners – Minimize risk and product waste

Plant owners carry the responsibility of running a safe processing facility on their shoulders. Color coding can increase the safety of day-to-day operations, somewhat lessening that burden. In the event of charges being carried against a facility, owners/operators must provide a due diligence defense if their product causes illness or death. Color coding is a proven, standard method to prevent cross-contamination and is widely accepted by standards organizations. BRC v.7 (2015) requires BRC registered companies to use either color coding or tools that are “visually distinctive” in high-risk areas. Color coding is a significant step towards being able to show auditors that a company is doing their part to minimize risk and promote food safety.
If color coding is helpful in minimizing the chances of cross-contamination, it’s essential to minimizing the impact of a foreign body recall due to a piece of a tool breaking off and contaminating the product. If zoning is done by areas, or even shifts, the color of the chipped tool or plastic glove can pinpoint where (and possibly when) the contamination happened, which results in less product needing to be pulled off of shelves.

Middle Management – Simplify training and pinpoint issues

Color-coded tool stations can significantly reduce the amount of time that must be spent training each employee. Instead of a complicated system where certain tools are only left certain places, the stations are immediately obvious to even the newest employees. Food processing facilities typically see a high amount of turnover, making brevity in training time even more valuable. Simplify the entire process by having total color tools for different purposes.

Tool stations also promote a culture of responsibility since it’s easy to see if someone didn’t bother to put a tool back in the right place. Having a place for each tool, and having each tool be zoned keeps the factory running smoothly and safely. If a tool is missing, finding it is as simple as asking the shift workers it’s color-coded to. Retraining is also easier if it’s immediately apparent when an employee is using the wrong tool for a job.

Employees – Uncomplicate HACCP regulations

Training represents time and money to company executives. To employees, it’s time they’re not working toward production goals. Most workers appreciate a streamlined process that doesn’t require them to remember which station they went to for a tool. Color-coded stations also mean brooms aren’t propped against walls and buckets aren’t sitting in random places, all waiting to trip an employee who’s not paying enough attention.

Investing in a fully color-coded system shows a commitment to food safety that won’t go unnoticed by employees. The shift of a company culture to one that deeply cares about the safety of its products will help employees feel good about their work, which, in turn, can make them better workers.

Getting organizational buy-in is a necessary part of adding color-coding to a company. Without it, the process may not be implemented correctly, if at all. However, once color coding becomes part of the corporate culture, it can streamline operations and training, as well as reduce risk.