High-Temperature Tools in Food Processing

Food processing regularly involves frying, roasting, pasteurization, and sterilization—all of which require varying degrees of heat. These hot surfaces call for tools that can withstand high temperatures to clean or handle food products.

High-temperature tools should comfortably be able to withstand temperatures of 212° F or above during their use, which means most conventional tools aren’t suited for the job. That’s why Remco and Vikan have recently launched a full high-temperature range of sanitation and material handling tools.

Generally, there are three main scenarios as to when these heat-resistant tools are required in a food processing environment:

  • Where there is the potential of debris on surfaces to harden when being cooled, hence they need to be removed while still hot;
  • Where conventional tools may become damaged, harm the equipment, and/or become a food safety or quality hazard when used on a heated surface; or
  • To minimize polymer/additive migration from a heated conventional handling tool to food or a hot food contact surface.

Here are some common guidelines to follow when using high-temperature tools in a food plant:

  1. Employee safety first – use the right PPE to protect employees from hot surfaces.
  2. Turn off the heat source when using the tools. The cooler the surface the better, as long as this does not influence debris removal or negatively influence cleaning procedures.
  3. Understand the variability of the process. High-temperatures alone may not be the only factor. Assess the other operating conditions, such as the chemicals being used, the applied mechanical force, the contact time, the surface type, and the soil.
  4. Select the right tools for the right job.
  5. Inspect tools often and replace bad or damaged tools immediately. Ensure proper storage, care, and maintenance to increase the life of the tools.
  6. Try out a sample tool on a small area before putting it to actual use to ensure it can withstand the heat and is able to clean the area.

Remco offers a range of temperature-resistant tools, such as brushes, scrapers, hoes, and paddles, in up to 9 colors. These tools are durable and withstand use in temperatures of up to 212° F on food contact surfaces and 347° F on non-food contact surfaces in 2-minute intervals.

To view Remco and Vikan’s high-temp range, click here.

Remco and Vikan Add Brush Manufacturing to the U.S.

Remco is committed to being a leading supplier of sanitation and material handling tools to the food processing industry. As a part of this commitment, we are now manufacturing Vikan brooms and brushes in the U.S.

Over the past several months, we renovated our existing manufacturing area to accommodate state-of-the-art brush machines and trained employees in the manufacturing processes. In the last two months, we started producing several of our most popular brooms and brushes here in Indiana. These brooms and brushes meet the same quality standards that you have come to expect from every Vikan product.

We are confident that accomplishing our goal of producing more products in the States will provide lasting benefits to our customers, and we are excited about the future opportunities that U.S.-based manufacturing will create. 

Ensuring U.S. and Global Food Safety During the COVID-19 Crisis

“There is no evidence, as yet, regarding the transmission of COVID-19 through food or food packaging” – this was the reassuring message echoed by Frank Yiannas, FDA’s Deputy Commissioner of Food Policy and Response, at the March 18th Industry Stakeholder Meeting. Some other key points discussed during the meeting were as follows:

  • COVID-19 infection does not lead to gastrointestinal foodborne illness. Rather, the disease affects an individual’s respiratory system;
  • The FDA will continue to conduct critical inspections related to Class 1 recalls and respond to outbreaks and other public health emergencies under its jurisdiction;
  • No food recalls are generally required, and also products are not required to be put on hold if someone in a facility is diagnosed with COVID-19;
  • If a worker is diagnosed with COVID-19, the facility should contact their health department, follow the CDC guidelines, and perform deep cleaning and sanitizing of the production area.

The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the SARS-CoV-2 virus outbreak a global pandemic on March 11th, and since then, some panic-stricken shoppers have been stockpiling food due to uncertainty regarding its near-future availability in groceries. Such fears are unwarranted since food processors and retailers will continue working since ensuring a safe food supply to consumers is a critical function of the global economy. WHO has provided some reassuring guidance for food businesses on how to operate safely during the COVID-19 crisis, and salient points are as follows 1:

  • Employees’ safety is of the top-most concern. The main focus is to prevent the virus from entering the facility, and to avoid person-to-person transmission within the food facility.
  • Employees are made aware, and if found with COVID-19 symptoms, they are excluded from the workplace. Fitness-to-work protocols need to be strictly followed.
  • Staff protection measures are reinforced, e.g. using appropriate personal protection equipment, practicing social-distancing, and following hand washing and respiratory etiquette.
  • Extra precautions are taken when securely receiving and transporting products, or when meeting visitors in the facility.
  • Open and exposed food displays, like self-serve salad bars, should be avoided in order to minimize incidents of potential COVID-19 transmission among employees.
  • A complete deep cleaning of the facility should be ensured prior to and after the production run, and regular sanitizing of “high touch points” is followed.

Remco, as providers of high quality, color-coded material handling, hygiene, and sanitation tools are here to assist our end users in helping keep the food facility environment cleaner and safer. For more information about food processing and COVID-19, click here.

References:

IAFP/WHO Webinar (April 3, 2020) “EPI-WIN COVID-19: How to Ensure and Maintain Food Supply and How to Protect Workers in the Food Industry and at Retail”

Minimizing the Risk of COVID-19 Infection in Food Manufacturing

Sanitizing with tube brush

What is COVID-19?

COVID-191,2 is the disease associated with a new strain of coronavirus that was discovered in 2019. You may also see it referred to as the Wuhan novel coronavirus, 2019-nCoV, WN-CoV, HCoV-19 (SARS-2), or SARS-CoV-2, where SARS is the acronym for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, and CoV is that for Coronavirus. This blog uses the terms COVID-19 in reference to the viral infection, and SARS-CoV-2 in reference to the virus.

How is it spread?

We know that the primary transmission route for COVID-19 is via inhalation of the aerosols and droplets created when an infected individual coughs or sneezes. A single cough can produce up to 3,000 droplets, which can land on nearby people, clothing, and surfaces. Transmission of the disease can also happen through touching a contaminated surface and then touching the mucous membranes of the nose or eyes.

A recent study3 has shown that SARS-CoV-2 (specifically) can survive on cardboard for up to 24 hours, and for 2-3 days on plastic and stainless-steel surfaces. The survival time on clothing is not yet known. We do know the survival time depends on several factors, including the type of surface, temperature, relative humidity, and the specific strain of the virus. 

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA4) has stated that there is currently no evidence that food is a likely source or route of transmission of COVID-19. Experiences from previous outbreaks of related coronaviruses show that transmission through food consumption did not occur.

How can the risk of COVID-19 infection be minimized through cleaning and disinfection?

Viruses vs Bacteria

The main difference between bacteria and viruses is that bacteria are living cells that can grow and reproduce independently in most environments. Viruses are non-living particles that need a host (living cells) to reproduce. Virus particles can be up to 50 times smaller than bacterial cells. This aids their transfer to and harborage on surfaces. SARS-CoV-2 has been reported to survive on surfaces for 2-3 days. Some bacteria are known to survive for years. The presence of organic matter, e.g., food and biological fluids, is likely to offer viruses some protection from disinfectants and surface antimicrobials (as it does for bacteria), but both are effectively removed through good cleaning practices. Enveloped viruses, such as SARS-CoV-2, are among the weakest or least resistant organisms to disinfection. Many disinfectants are active against them and achieve their effective inactivation within minutes.

Consequently, routine cleaning and disinfection practices, using existing procedures, chemicals, and cleaning equipment, should continue as usual.

Additionally, given the recent scientific findings that SARS-CoV-2 can survive on surfaces for 2-3 days, more frequent cleaning and disinfection of touchpoints like door handles, handrails, door push plates, hoses, instrument panels, faucets, cleaning tools, and utensils, should be conducted. This cleaning and disinfection should also extend to surfaces in non-food handling areas such as restrooms, locker rooms, offices, break rooms, and vehicles.

Companies and individuals may like to implement a disposable gloving policy. If this is done, careful consideration must be given to when the gloves are used and removed, to ensure that the gloves themselves do not become a vector for viral transmission. The use of appropriate hand sanitizers, e.g., alcohol-based, could also be beneficial, though neither that nor gloving should replace good hand washing practices.

If a key food worker is diagnosed with COVID-19, it may be appropriate to decontaminate all surfaces that the worker could have come into contact with.

Cleaning

Visibly dirty surfaces should always be wet or dry cleaned prior to disinfection. This can be achieved through manual cleaning such as brushing, scrubbing, scraping, wiping, or through mechanical cleaning like the use of floor scrubbers, vacuum cleaners, etc., to remove the gross soiling. Remember that all cleaning activities can spread contamination. Use cleaning methods and materials the maximize contamination removal and minimize it spread.

Disinfection

Use 70% ethyl alcohol to disinfect surfaces like small reusable equipment (such as cleaning tools and utensils) and frequently touched surfaces (like door handles, handrails, etc.). This can be done by using a spray bottle or a disposable cloth. Use a fresh cloth for each piece of equipment/surface disinfected.

Sodium Hypochlorite and Peracetic acid are also effective chemicals for neutralizing viruses on surfaces. Food processors should work with chemical manufacturers to ensure proper dosage, contact times, and application. Not all chemicals are suitable for all surfaces. 

As an alternative to Sodium Hypochlorite and Peracetic acid, a disinfectant that has passed EN 14476:2013 + A1 2015 can be used, at its highest recommended in-use concentration.

Heat at 133°F can also be used to kill the SARS coronavirus5. Small, washable equipment and utensils can be readily decontaminated using an industrial or domestic dishwasher, with a wash cycle that utilizes a minimum wash temperature of 133°F for a minimum of 15 minutes. Laundry (including protective clothing and cleaning cloths), and small washable cleaning tools and utensils can also be decontaminated by using a washing machine with the same minimum cycle settings.

What else can be done?

All those involved in food production, processing, distribution, sale, and delivery should be aware of how they themselves could cause the spread of COVID-19 and of the precautions, recommended by WHO, that they should take to minimize this:

  • wash their hands regularly;
  • cover their mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing;
  • avoid close contact (<6 feet) with anyone coughing and sneezing.

They should also understand the sources of contamination, i.e., aerosols and droplets from coughing and sneezing and how the transfer can occur,

  • through inhalation of virus particles in aerosols and droplets;
  • through the transfer of virus particles from coughs, sneezes, and surfaces to hand;
  • from hands to mucus membranes (nose, mouth, eyes); and
  • from hands back to surfaces.

Cleaning equipment can itself become a vector for SARS-CoV-2 transmission. To minimize the risk of virus harborage and transfer choose equipment that is either single-use or hygienically designed (easy to clean and disinfect). Clean the equipment (by rinsing or wiping) and disinfect (using a suitable disinfectant solution, spray or wipe) between use by different workers. Further information on cleaning tool decontamination can be found here.

Specific recommendations for surface cleaning and disinfection regarding SARS-CoV-2 control are provided by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention6.

 

References

  1. https://www.who.int/health-topics/coronavirus#tab=tab_1
  2. https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/events-as-they-happen
  3. https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMc2004973?query=featured_home
  4. https://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/news/novel-coronavirus-where-find-information
  5. https://www.who.int/csr/sars/survival_2003_05_04/en/
  6. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/cleaning-disinfection.html

 

Remco Introduces the Vikan Transport Line

The Vikan Transport Line is Now Available Through Remco!

Vehicles have different needs than factories or restaurants when it comes to cleaning. Car paint requires brushes to be soft and yet able to tackle tough grime. Windows need squeegees that are curved to handle the glass of different sizes. Tires require tough bristles that are shaped to be effective in small openings without scratching rims. For years, Vikan’s highly regarded transport line has helped drivers around the globe keep their wheels shining and their paint gleaming. Remco is proud to bring that line to North America.

Soft-Bristled Brushes

Gearheads know that finding a brush that cleans without scratching delicate paint isn’t an easy task. Luckily, Vikan’s hand brushes in the transport line are all made with soft filaments that wipe dirt and debris away without compromising paint jobs.

Soft/split bristle types are especially good at carrying detergent and water across larger areas, making them the perfect choice for washing. The soft brushes are excellent at sweeping away debris and can also be used with soap/water later in the process.

  • Soft Hand Brush
  • Soft/Split Hand Brush
  • Soft/Split Multi-Purpose/Rim Hand Brush

Waterfed brooms and larger brushes can be attached to handles to fit the needs of truckers. Attached to telescopic handles that reach up to 109 inches, these brooms and brushes can reach almost anywhere. Because they can be hooked up directly to hoses, you can wash the largest trucks and vans easily.

  • Waterfed Vehicle Brush with Adjustable Head
  • Waterfed Vehicle Brush
  • Waterfed High/Low Washing Brush
  • Soft/Split Waterfed Vehicle Brush

Tire and Detail Brushes

Specialty surfaces require specialty brushes. Whether you need to clean vents, tires, wheel wells, moldings, or dashboards, we have a car detailing brush to do the job. Brushes have stiff to soft bristles depending upon their intended use.

  • Interior Brush
  • Detail Brush Set
  • Long Handle Detail Brush Set
  • Stiff Rim Cleaning Hand Brush

Squeegees

Squeegees are essential for a streak-free shine. They can be used on windows or even on bodies after cleaning. Vikan offers two types of transport line squeegees: the Windshield Sponge/Squeegee that works well with windows, and the Wipe-N-Shines, which can be used on windows and truck/car bodies. The patented rubber-bladed Wipe-N-Shine Squeegees attach to any Vikan handle for added reach.

  • Windshield Sponge/Squeegee
  • 10-14” Wipe-N-Shine Squeegees

 

The Six-Stage Vehicle Cleaning Process

Professional cleaning requires the correct approach as well as the right tools. The Vikan six-stage process will leave the exterior of your vehicle spotlessly clean:

  1. Apply a good foam mix of detergent and water.
  2. Leave the vehicle to soak for a couple of minutes so that the dust and dirt loosen and bind to the foam.
  3. Wash the vehicle with lots of clean water to remove the dust and dirt, and prevent them from scratching the paintwork when using a brush.
  4. Using a water-fed or standard hand brush, wash the vehicle with water and detergent.
  5. Rinse the vehicle thoroughly with clean water.
  6. Use the rubber-bladed Wipe-n-Shine to remove wash water, and leave windows and paintwork streak-free.

Focus on FSMA: Looking Forward to a Year of Produce Safety Improvements

Produce safety changes in 2020

According to the World Health Organization, low consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables has been shown to be a significant risk factor potentially contributing to cancer, heart disease, and strokes around the globe. Indeed, nutrition experts have recommended a minimum individual daily intake of 400 g of various fresh produce commodities.1 However, eating fresh fruits and vegetables isn’t without risk, as there are minimal processing steps (such as washing, cutting, and packing) even when they’re not just eaten raw. This can and does increase the chances of produce cross-contamination that may result in foodborne illnesses.

Last year, in 2019, a significant number of disease outbreaks and recalls were linked to the produce sector. Some of the key food safety incidents that made headlines were on:

  • Multi-state coli O157:H7 outbreak associated with romaine lettuce from Salinas growing region in California, that led to about 138 reported illnesses and 72 hospitalizations;
  • Nationwide recall of Ready-to-eat (RTE) vegetable products from various retail outlets due to potential risk of Listeria monocytogenes found in produce sourced from a common supplier;
  • Outbreak of Salmonella Uganda infections (reported in nine U.S. States) linked to whole, fresh papayas imported from a Mexican farm.

Not surprisingly, the U.S. is currently a net importer of fresh produce.2 Just over half of the fresh fruit and almost a third of fresh vegetables consumed by the American public are imported from other countries such as Mexico, Chile, and Canada. The risks to food and produce safety are greatly aggravated if suppliers do not have adequate preventive food safety controls in place. Thus, it became imperative for the U.S. federal government to enact the 2011 Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), which basically provides the FDA with a proactive authority to regulate the way foods are sourced or grown, harvested, processed, stored, and transported for interstate or international commerce.3

In 2020, we should expect stakeholders to build upon the existing regulatory framework or initiatives in order to foster better Produce Safety improvements, and with a collaborative objective of providing safe and wholesome food to the public. Some of the key things coming in this arena are as follows:

1. Produce Safety Rule compliance date for very small farms is nearing:

The FSMA Final Rule on Produce Safety was published on January 26, 2016, with the aim of providing minimum food safety standards for growing, harvesting, packing and holding of fruits and vegetables.4 Most of the compliance deadlines have passed, but then the compliance date for the very small produce farms (other than sprouts – which has a separate compliance date) shall be January 27, 2020.

2. Supplier traceability challenges should make industry adopt smarter food safety technologies:

To enable a faster foodborne outbreak response in the interest of public health, more reliable information, better processes and updated technologies will be required by industry to track the source and destinations of contaminated produce. According to Frank Yiannas, the FDA deputy commissioner for food safety, facilitating the adoption of newer traceability technologies (such as blockchain) in the produce sector will usher in a New Era of Smarter Food Safety that is people-led, FSMA-based, and technology enabled.5

3. Sanitation and hygiene will become a greater produce sector focus:

There will be an enhanced requirement to strengthen the foundation of Good Agricultural Practices and the key risk-based sanitation programs on farms that should help prevent microbial contamination of the marketable produce, associated food recalls, and foodborne disease outbreaks. Examples of these practices include ensuring worker health and hygiene; overall plant sanitation and cleaning; organizing growing, harvesting, packing, and holding activities; ensuring the proper quality of agricultural water and soil amendments; and properly maintaining equipment, tools, and buildings. Moreover, it has been generally estimated that poor sanitary conditions at a plant or site is responsible for at least one-third of North American food recalls, and a lot of direct and indirect expenses could be avoided through proper sanitation strategies.6

Remco can help the food industry, as a well as the produce sector, with the right selection, storage, care and maintenance criteria for sanitation and material handling implements that are required for a sanitary and more hygienic food production environment. More information about our tools are available at https://remcoproducts.com/products/.

 

Selected References:

(1) WHO: Global Strategy on Diet, Physical Activity and Health – https://www.who.int/dietphysicalactivity/fruit/index1.html

(2) The U.S. Trade Situation for Fruit and Vegetable Products – https://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/RL34468.pdf

(3) FDA Food Safety Modernization Act – https://www.fda.gov/food/guidance-regulation-food-and-dietary-supplements/food-safety-modernization-act-fsma

(4) FSMA Final Rule On Produce Safety – https://www.fda.gov/food/food-safety-modernization-act-fsma/fsma-final-rule-produce-safety

(5) New Era of Smarter Food Safety – https://www.fda.gov/food/food-industry/new-era-smarter-food-safety

(6) Evaluating FDA Food Recalls with Sanitation as a Root Cause – https://www.vikan.com/media/8428/2019_iafp-poster_amitmkheradia-us.pdf

A Year in Regulations: Key Food Safety Developments for 2019 and 2020

With the new year just around the corner, it’s time to reflect on what changed in 2019 and what’s to come for 2020 in the world of food safety. Significant foodborne illness outbreaks and recalls this year put an increased focus on farm-to-fork accountability. For many food processors, this meant reevaluating their facility’s food safety efforts and those of their suppliers.

  • Foreign material contamination forced a recall of over 11 million pounds of frozen and RTE chicken strips
  • Salmonella Uganda infections spread and are potentially related to whole, fresh papayas
  • An coli O157:H7 outbreak linked to Romaine lettuce

The following five trends should influence the food safety landscape in North America next year:

1. Regulatory performance metrics should drive FSMA implementation – The FDA has launched a food safety dashboard, FDA-TRACK, to help evaluate how well the FSMA rules are being implemented, and whether there is any need for improvement from the industry to control foodborne outbreaks, recalls and product contamination. More information about this agency-wide program is available on the FDA’s website.

2. There will be a focus on modernizing food production lines – As an example, FSIS-USDA just announced a final rule for facilitating the establishment of a New Swine Slaughter Inspection System aimed at allowing for food safety innovations while not compromising the goal of protecting public health.

3. Regulations will increasingly influence regional food safety developments – In the U.S., phased implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) through targeted FDA’s Final Rules has been making its mark. Meanwhile, Canada’s Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR), came into force on January 15th of this year. We should expect to see closer collaboration between the FDA and the CFIA in order to streamline and align their food safety systems to ensure a seamless regional trade partnership. Explore our recent white paper on Canada’s SFCR in our Knowledge Center.

4. Hygienic design will be a much bigger industry focus – A new working group has just started their work on integrating hygienic design elements with the existing GFSI requirements (with a globalized farm-to-fork food safety approach) under scope K, covering food processing/handling equipment and facilities. This will facilitate the eventual adoption of hygienic design elements by the industry as it’s implemented in GFSI-benchmarked standards like BRC and SQF.

5. We will be entering a New Smarter Era of Food Safety, and maybe sooner than expected – Frank Yiannas, the FDA deputy commissioner for Food Policy & Response, has been spearheading the agency’s efforts to develop a strategic plan on leveraging technology, smarter tools, and best practices for creating a more digital, traceable, and safer food safety system. Through Frank’s previous professional work experience with Disney and Walmart, he has aptly evaluated that implementing such a novel regulatory approach requires continuous collaboration and communication with the industry and relevant stakeholders. A brief summary of the FDA’s approach is available on their website.

2020-2021 Compliance Dates to Remember:

 Type

Details

Compliance Date

GFSI-based standard

FSSC 22000 Version 5

Auditable from Jan. 1, 2020

 

 

 

 

 

U.S. FSMA Final Rules

PRODUCE SAFETY rule compliance for all produce types (for all farm sizes); other produce (remaining water requirements for large farms); other produce (very small farms except certain water requirements)

 

Jan. 27, 2020

FOREIGN SUPPLIER VERIFICATION PROGRAM rule compliance for importers of animal food whose foreign supplier is a qualified facility (including very small businesses) subject to PCAF, PC but not CGMP requirements

 

March 17, 2020

INTENTIONAL ADULTERATION rule for small businesses

July 27, 2020

FOREIGN SUPPLIER VERIFICATION PROGRAM rule compliance for importers whose very small business foreign supplier is subject to the Produce Safety rule

 

July 27, 2020

 

 

 

Canadian SFCR Compliance

Written Preventive Control Plan for fresh fruit and vegetables facilities

Jan. 15, 2020

Licensing, traceability and written Preventive Control Plan compliance for other food facilities (except meat, fish, eggs, dairy, processed fruits or vegetables, honey, maple products, and fresh fruits & vegetables) with gross income >CDN100K and >5 employees

 

July 15, 2020

 

Licensing and traceability requirements compliance for other food facilities with gross income >CDN100K and <5 employees

July 15, 2020

 

Written Preventive Control Plan compliance for other food facilities with gross income >CDN100K and <5 employees

July 15, 2021

Licensing and traceability requirements compliance for other food facilities with gross income of <=CDN100K

July 15, 2020

Preventive Controls compliance for other food facilities with gross income of <=CDN100K

July 15, 2021

 Remco believes that using the right sanitary implements – and through their selection, storage, care, and maintenance – has a vital role in maintaining a cleaner and safer food production environment. Our line of food-safe offerings includes color-coded material handling and cleaning tools like scoops, tubs, brushes, squeegees, and more. Additional information about our products is available at remcoproducts.com/products/.

 

Links for Additional Information:

Professionals at the Food Safety Consortium Endorse FDA’s Vision of a ‘New Era of Smarter Food Safety’

Remco is proud to have participated and exhibited in the 2019 Food Safety Consortium Conference & Expo. Over 400 food safety professionals and about 50 exhibitors attended this leading educational and networking event, and some of the key sessions covered were on:

  • Salmonella detection and control;
  • FSSC 22000 v.5;
  • Data-driven, smart food safety management systems;
  • Role of water activity in FSMA regulations;
  • Aggressive approach to sanitation: planning for a decontamination event;
  • Sanitary design as the generation next of food safety;
  • Innovative food safety technologies;
  • Monitoring and controlling environmental pathogens; and,
  • Creating effective training programs for food manufacturers.

The keynote speaker at this leading conference was Frank Yiannas, FDA’s deputy commissioner for food policy and response, who provided a vital overview on the ‘New Era of Smarter Food Safety.’ Frank shared the FDA’s 21st century vision of promoting better, interconnected food safety systems that are FSMA-based, technology-enabled, digital, collaborative, people-led, consumer-focused, and with the enhanced traceability features. He also talked about the recent inclusion of FSMA Performance Measures within FDA-TRACK*, which is the agency’s performance management program that monitors, analyzes and reports results (on a quarterly basis) from key FDA performance data, projects and initiatives.

Remco also virtually participated in the Food Safety Public Meeting on the FDA’s blueprint for a “New Era of Smarter Food Safety” that took place in Washington DC on October 21, which was well attended by regulators, industry stakeholders, academia, consumer advocacy groups, and the media.  The FDA have requested formal comments from the stakeholders, and the details are available at: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2019/09/18/2019-20229/a-new-era-of-smarter-food-safety-public-meeting-request-for-comments.

Remco shares the vision of promoting smarter food safety by providing the end-users with high quality color-coded material handling tools like scoops, tubs, scrapers, mixing paddles, and much more. As a Vikan company, we also distribute innovative, hygienically designed cleaning tools and solutions (e.g. brushes, brooms, squeegees etc.) to food producers and manufacturers based in North America. For further information, kindly visit us at: https://remcoproducts.com/.

Note:

Food Safety Consortium Conference & Expo is one of the food safety industry’s premier event organized by Innovative Publishing Co. LLC, a publishing house for Med-Tech-Intelligence, Food-Safety- Tech, and Cannabis-Industry-Journal. More information is available at: https://foodsafetyconsortium.org/.

The New Era of Smarter Food Safety Initiative is the FDA’s strategic blueprint on how the agency plans to leverage technology and other tools in order to create a digital, traceable and safer food safety system. More information is available at: https://www.fda.gov/food/food-industry/new-era-smarter-food-safety.

* About FDA-TRACK: https://www.fda.gov/about-fda/fda-track-agency-wide-program-performance/about-fda-track

Salmonella in Raw Poultry – From Processing to Purchasing

According to the CDC, an estimated 1.2 million Americans a year get sick from Salmonella infections. Of these, around 23,000 are hospitalized and approximately 450 people die. While there have been innovations around whole chicken processing that have led to reductions in bacteria, around 1.5% of carcasses still test positive for Salmonella at processing plants. Additionally, chicken parts (such as a package of raw chicken breasts), don’t even have USDA-FSIS performance standards established as yet.

With due diligence from processors and consumers on safe poultry handling practices, rates of foodborne illness from Salmonella can be reduced.

Stopping Salmonella from Reaching Grocery Stores

Processors must take on the burden of reducing Salmonella’s presence in raw poultry while government programs continue to educate consumers on proper handling and cooking practices. There are a couple of steps that food processors can take to reduce the chances of Salmonella cross-contaminating their products:

Implement zoning and color-coding

Hygienic zoning, when supported by color-coding, helps reduce the spread of contamination at critical points in a processing environment. Each processing step can be assigned a different color, which keeps tools used on pre-cleaned chicken away from those used on ready-to-package poultry. Workers’ protective clothing can also be separated depending on the zone they’re used in. Color-coding can also be used to keep the cleaning brushes that are used on food-contact surfaces from being mixed up with those used on drains or floors. Moreover, tool racks and shadow boards can separate tools from each other even when they’re being stored. With many companies offering products in 9-12 colors, there are enough choices to add color-coded support to almost any hygienic zoning plan.

Use hygienically designed tools.

Hygienically designed tools are normally made of FDA compliant materials and are less likely to support the survival, growth, and spread of pathogens like Salmonella. They are generally free of cracks and crevices (that could allow bacteria to hide and multiply in), and have rounded corners and smooth surfaces that make them easy to clean and dry. Tools that are easier to clean are more likely to be cleaned more often and more thoroughly. Any tool that has multiple pieces should be able to be separated easily for cleaning.

Keep poultry at acceptable temperatures.

One of the best ways to control Salmonella contamination is by keeping poultry at temperatures under 39° F. When poultry is held below this danger point, bacteria growth is slowed. In the range between 40-140° F, bacteria flourishes, which may lead to high amounts of Salmonella that can, in turn, cause consumer illnesses and public outbreaks.

Consumer and Retailer Behavior

Although over half of Americans say they believe that preparing food at home is safer than eating out, a study has found that consumers don’t always treat raw poultry with foodborne illness prevention in mind, nor do retailers. The Food Marketing Institute (FMI) and Partnership for Food Safety Education (PFSE) collaborated on a study that found:

  • Only 18% of stores had plastic bags in the meat and poultry sections. In those stores, only 25% of shoppers used them.
  • 87% of shoppers touched their cart’s handle after handling raw poultry.
  • 84% of shoppers placed their poultry near other food items in the cart, and 56% of them placed it such that it directly touched their other food items.

It’s clear that consumers and retailers need better education on safe poultry practices since processors can’t completely eliminate all harmful bacteria from uncooked poultry. FMI and PSFE are working with FightBac.org on their “Don’t Wing It” campaign to help increase consumer awareness of foodborne illness and on how to prevent it.

The Don’t Wing It campaign promotes:

  • Not directly touching raw poultry in the store and using provided plastic bags to store the item.
  • Using hand sanitizer and a disinfecting wipe for cleaning shopping cart handles before use.
  • At home, placing poultry immediately into the freezer and using the refrigerator to thaw it to prevent the poultry’s juices from contaminating other products. 
  • Cooking raw poultry to an internal temperature of at least 165° F.

It’s important to note that raw poultry processing can’t eliminate all probable harmful bacteria. Consumers therefore need to learn how to safely handle packages of poultry during shopping, storing, and cooking. However, there are also a few ways poultry processors can help in reducing the spread of Salmonella, such as the use of color-coding, using hygienically designed tools, and keeping poultry at safe temperatures. Therefore, processors as well as consumers and retailers have significant roles in reducing the overall rates of foodborne illnesses.

How to Choose the Right Brush for Food Processing

scrub brushes

Proper cleaning tools can increase plant hygiene and make it easier for food processing facility staff to do their job. Finding the right brushes for each job is easier when you understand the role bristle stiffness, brush type, and bristle/block attachment play in how a brush functions.

Hygienic Design of Brushes

Drilled and stapled brushes are made by drilling a hole into the brush block and stapling bristles into it. Higher quality versions will have only small gaps near the attachment point, making it less likely for contaminants to become trapped. Low-quality versions may have issues with bristles falling out and will have larger gaps around the fiber attachment points, making it easier for microorganisms to hide and multiply. For many food processing needs, a high-quality version of this type of brush is appropriate.

Resin-set brushes pose a variety of hygiene concerns. For this brush, holes are drilled in the block, filaments are stapled into them, and resin is added for extra bristle security. Resin itself isn’t approved for food contact and often gets trapped in between bristles and falls out, creating a source of contamination. This type of brush isn’t suitable for food manufacturing.

Ultra Safe Technology (UST) brushes from Vikan improve bristle retention and brush hygiene. These innovative brushes have a unique construction and design. Bristles are fully molded into individual bristle security units. Those units are then molded directly into the brush block, eliminating holes, gaps, and contamination traps. Because of this production technique, bristle security units can be arranged in patterns that allow brushes to be cleaned easily while maximizing cleaning efficiency. These ultra-hygienic brushes are ideal for food production plants that make infant formula, baby food, and ready-to-eat food.
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