FDA Releases the ‘New Era of Smarter Food Safety’ Blueprint

On July 13, the FDA unveiled its master plan for creating a more digital, traceable, and safer food network system that should help bend the curve of foodborne illnesses in the U.S. Frank Yiannas, FDA Deputy Commissioner for Food Policy and Response, provided a timely justification for the launch of this ‘New Era’ Blueprint for the Future: “Foods are being reformulated, new foods and new production methods are being realized, and the food system continues to evolve. To succeed in these modern times, we need more modern approaches …”

FDA’s ‘New Era of Smarter Food Safety’ blueprint is the culmination of contributions from regulators, industry experts, and public comments in order to come up with an extensive, collaborative, and practical document based upon the following four core elements:

  1. Tech-enabled traceability approaches;
  2. Smarter tools and approaches for prevention and outbreak response;
  3. New business models and retail modernization; and
  4. Food safety culture.

These leveraging technologies, processes, and best practices are intended to support but not replace FSMA, while assisting the industry with developing compliant, prevention-based food safety systems. Moreover, the video message from FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn emphasized that increasing relevance of the ‘New Era’ plan: “We know from our experience during the [COVID-19] pandemic that the blueprint is about those ideas whose time has come, and implementing them will strengthen our ability to protect the food supply, in good times and [in] bad [times]…”

Remco is proud to have participated by providing valuable public comments for FDA’s ‘New Era’ blueprint, and shares the vision of promoting smarter food safety by providing our 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 (such as brushes, brooms, and squeegees) to food producers and manufacturers based in North America. For further information, please visit us at: remcoproducts.com.

 

References:

Transportation Cleaning Guide for COVID-19 and Beyond

Desperate times may call for desperate measures, but the cleaning routines many trucking agencies are adopting in response to COVID-19 have long been established in the form of GMP and basic sanitation requirements. However, with the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic still raging on, many food distributors are required to take extra preventative measures to ensure the health and safety of customers and drivers.

Regulatory agencies haven’t been lax, either. For instance, in the interest of public health, the CDC has provided interim cleaning and disinfection recommendations for non-emergency transport vehicles. Some of the key features of the guidelines are as follows:

  1. Insist employees strictly adhere to WHO and/or CDC guidelines on frequent hand washing, practicing respiratory etiquette, social-distancing, and quarantining if they have potential illness symptoms.
  2. Clean soils on the surfaces before applying the disinfectant. This is because viral loads tend to be greater on dirty surfaces filled with organic matter. Skipping the cleaning can result in the virus being present after disinfecting.
  3. Use EPA-approved or regulations-compliant disinfectants that are proven to be effective against COVID-19 and other coronaviruses. Follow the chemical manufacturer’s usage instructions.

There are further guidelines for enhancing the vehicle cleaning process during these times of crisis:

  • At a minimum, commonly touched surfaces need to be cleaned and disinfected at the beginning and end of each shift. As a precaution within the hospital sector, for instance, medical transport vans or vehicles should be cleaned and disinfected after use by the patients who are visibly ill.
  • When cleaning and disinfecting, workers should wear appropriate PPE, and the doors and windows should remain open for better airflow. If available, disposable or washable gowns are recommended. 
  • Clean different surfaces appropriately:
    • Hard, non-porous surfaces (steering wheels, hand rests, windows, door handles), should be cleaned with soap and water or a detergent before sanitizing.
    • Electronic surfaces (tablets or touch screens) should have visible dirt removed with a clean, dry cloth and then they should be disinfected, following the chemical manufacturer’s instructions. 
  • After cleaning, single-use PPE should be disposed of and work uniforms/reusable garments should be laundered using the highest temperature setting and dried completely. Workers should then immediately wash their hands for at least 20 seconds using soap and water, or use hand sanitizer (minimum of 60% alcohol) if washing facilities aren’t available. 
  • Insist on keeping a good vehicle cleaning checklist that covers the sanitation and disinfection of internal and external surfaces, frequency of cleaning, and a progress record.

Moreover, this is not an exhaustive list of recommendations. Please consult CDC, FDA, OSHA, and other guidelines for more details when setting up a cleaning plan.

As a precautionary note, the FDA has not yet found evidence as to whether the SARS-CoV-2 virus can be transmitted through food packaging. However, out of an abundance of caution, cleaning efforts must be increased due to the importance of the transport and distribution systems, as they are vital to maintaining the continuous flow of essential supplies, food, fuel, and medical equipment.

 

References:

US References:

Other Global References:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-decontamination-in-non-healthcare-settings/covid-19-decontamination-in-non-healthcare-settings

https://www.food.gov.uk/business-guidance/businesses-that-supply-or-produce-food-on-the-move

https://www.rac.co.uk/drive/advice/how-to/how-to-clean-your-car-interior-to-reduce-the-risk-of-spreading-coronavirus/

 

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.

Revisiting the Significance of Hygienic Design with 3-A SSI

Amit M. KheradiaAmit M. Kheradia attended the 3-A Sanitary Standards Inc. (3-A SSI) Educational Conference and Technical Workgroups that took place from May 13 – 16, 2019 in Bloomington, Minnesota. The conference turned out to be an insightful knowledge sharing platform.

Some of the key topics of significance were on the following issues:

  • The economic benefits of hygienic design
  • The unseen threats to food safety
  • Retail and consumer expectations for hygienic design
  • Counterfeit parts and their relationship to food safety

The conference was well attended by over 200 professionals from various regulatory, industry, and advocacy groups who came together to support the organization’s overarching mission of promoting food safety through hygienic equipment design.

Poor hygienic equipment design has been known to be a significant contributing factor in adversely affecting the safety and quality of manufactured food products. Such equipment can act as harborage spots for pathogens, allergens, or foreign matter, which may subsequently lead to foodborne illnesses, inspectional violations, operational losses, and food recalls. Moreover, according to industry estimates, having the facility, equipment, tools, and utensils of sanitary design could help companies save about $0.5 – 1.5 million annually by greatly minimizing the chances of costly product rejects, recalls, and associated expenses.

The Technical Workgroup Sessions, which are open to all food safety professionals, covered the updates related to the standards and accepted best practices for: farm equipment, vessels, fillers, fittings, valves, pumps and mixers, dairy equipment, heat exchangers, instruments, concentrators, conveyors, feeders, process and cleaning, as well as plant support equipment. If the cleaning solution and food-contact components of an equipment not designed for CIP or other automated methods of cleaning, these parts should be cleaned and sanitized manually. Manual cleaning, in such cases, involves the use of tools such as brushes, scrapers, squeegees etc. along with other sanitation aids to achieve the desired effect required to remove soils from a contact surface. Hence, cleaning and material tools, like those provided by Remco and Vikan, also play a key role in assuring sanitary design and conditions of the equipment and environment.

About 3-A SSI

As an independent organization, 3-A SSI principally relies on the collaboration and consensus of regulatory sanitarians, equipment fabricators and food processors when developing voluntary standards and accepted practices for food processing systems. In order to be granted the authorization to use the 3-A symbol on their processing equipment or parts, equipment fabricators must have their systems successfully audited against the required criteria through a third-party verification process. Additionally, 3-A SSI has an extensive knowledge center, and also organizes an annual conference to promote a high level of professionalism within the hygienic equipment design sector. More information about 3-A SSI is available at: http://www.3-a.org/.

Exploring the Recent U.S. and Global Food Safety Developments and Expectations for 2019

As we move closer to 2019, it’s worth remembering the regulatory changes, world news, and company updates that happened in 2018, even as we look forward to the changes coming with the new year.

Updates on FSMA Final Rules Compliance Dates –

The 2011 Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) has been focusing on a developing a prevention-based food safety system for combating foodborne illnesses, in great part, by ensuring that qualified food facilities comply with one or more of the seven published FSMA Final Rule requirements. More importantly, by Sept. 17, 2018, all qualified facilities were supposed to comply with 21 CFR 117 regulatory requirements or particularly, the FSMA Final Rule for Preventive Control of Human Food (PCHF).

Upcoming 2019 FSMA Final Rule Compliance Dates:

1. Produce Safety, January 28

Small farms for other produce and very small sprout farms must comply by this date.

2. Foreign Supplier Verification Program, March 18

Importers of human food from very small business foreign suppliers, importers of animal food from small business foreign suppliers, and importers of animal food from very small business foreign suppliers subject to PCAF CGMP Requirements.

3. Intentional Adulteration, July 26

Large businesses must comply by this date.

4. Foreign Supplier Verification Program, July 29

Importers of produce from small business foreign farms required to comply with Produce Safety Rule and importers of sprouts only from very small business foreign farms that comply with the Sprout Requirement of Produce Safety Rule must comply by this date.

5. Preventive Controls for Animal Food, September 17

Very small businesses subject to PC Compliance, which marks the date when all qualified facilities must comply with this rule.

For specific details on the FSMA regulations, please refer to the FDA website, www.fda.gov and also the FSMA Final Rules Key Dates link at: https://www.fda.gov/downloads/Food/GuidanceRegulation/FSMA/UCM568798.pdf

Key Version Releases of Global Food Safety Standards

Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) is a leading collaborative platform that brings together key actors of the food industry to drive continuous improvement in food safety management systems around the globe. One of GFSI’s objectives is to provide a benchmark of equivalence and convergence between various food safety management system certification standards. Currently, GFSI Benchmarking Guidance Document Version 7.2, which was released on March 2018, is being used. Below are the most recent developments regarding the key GFSI Certification Programs.

FSSC 22000, Version 4.1

Auditable date: Jan. 1, 2018

Launched in July 2017, the new standard version included unannounced audits and food fraud prevention clauses.

SQF Food Safety Codes, Edition 8

Auditable date: Feb. 2, 2018

The new SQF edition has code standards developed for each level along the food supply chain from primary production to food retail.

ISO 22000:2018, 2018 Version

Publication date: June 2018

Apart from some clause changes, the fundamental difference when compared with 2005 version is the use of consistent High-Level Structure (HLS) that’s also found in other ISO programs.

SQF Fundamentals, Edition 1

Publication date: June 2018

The program is for small or medium suppliers who don’t have a robust system in place or who want to take their food safety program to the next level. The Fundamentals program is available for food manufacturers and primary producers.

IFS Food, Version 6.1

Auditable date: July 1, 2018

The new version is aligned with the April 2017 GFSI Guidance Document. It has an entirely new section dedicated to the prevention of food fraud.

BRC Global Standard for Food Safety, Issue 8

Auditable date: Feb. 1, 2019

This new issue, published in August 2018, is an evolution from previous standards in that there is a strong emphasis on management commitment, a greater focus on HACCP-based food safety programs and quality management systems, a further development of food defense and fraud programs, and an expanded requirement for environmental monitoring of pathogens in food production facilities, among other concerns.

For more details about GFSI and the benchmarked certification programs, refer to the site: https://www.mygfsi.com/

Food Safety News Wrap-Up for 2018

A significant number of food safety events happened in the U.S., as well as globally.

2018 has been a busy year for various multi-state food illness outbreaks and recalls; some of these include:

  • Shelled eggs potentially contaminated with Salmonella Braenderup
  • Ready-to-eat deli ham contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes
  • Romaine Lettuce contaminated with E. coli 0157:H7

This year also saw the worst documented global Listeriosis Outbreak within the Republic of South Africa. Over a period of 14 months, 1,056 cases were reported and 214 deaths were attributed to the outbreak. The South African Department of Health identified the source of the outbreak was a ready-to-eat sausage known as Polony that came from Enterprise Foods in Polokwane, South Africa. This crisis has further heightened the need for faster detection, environmental monitoring and control, and Listeria prevention strategies within the global food supply network.

On an additional note, on June 13, 2018, Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) published the much-awaited Safe Food for Canadian Regulations (SFCR), Canada’s answer to a modernized, prevention-based food safety system, that’s more aligned with FSMA. The regulations are scheduled to come into force next year, on January 15, 2019. As a relief, among the changes is the fact that Canadian food businesses exporting foods that are regulated by the FDA can now leverage their valid SFCR license to demonstrate that their food safety controls meet their U.S. importer’s requirements under FSMA Foreign Supplier Verification Program. More information is available on the CFIA site at https://www.canada.ca/en/food-inspection-agency/news/2018/06/making-food-safer-and-creating-more-trade-opportunities-for-businesses.html

Important Company News

Remco’s Business Development team achieved SQF Edition 8 Practitioner qualification with the hope that the team will be able to pass along valuable knowledge and better recommendations to Remco’s customers. The employees were trained as a group by an in-house food safety specialist who is also an FSPCA Preventive Controls for Human Food Qualified Individual. For more details see: https://remcoproducts.com/remco-employees-achieve-sqf-8-practitioner-qualification/

Remco Products and Vikan have added three new colors (lime, gray, and brown) to 35 of our most popular products over the next several weeks. Vikan will produce 24 tools, including brooms, brushes, buckets, handles, and squeegees. Remco will make 11 tools, including scoops, scrapers, and shovels. A Color-Coding Toolkit has been recently released to provide more information to our customers.

 

We look forward to providing you with of-the-moment food safety news and recommendations in 2019. Please follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn for the latest from Remco Products.

Tips on How to Keep Pumpkins Safe to Eat this Fall

It might be Halloween, but the pumpkin you serve shouldn’t be scary. Traditionally, Halloween kicks off the “everything pumpkin” season. The popular gourd can be made into rolls, pies, latte, butter, bread, muffins, jellies and various processed products.

When prepared correctly, pumpkins are relatively healthy and incredibly delicious. However, it’s important to know how to keep the pumpkins away from pathogens like Salmonella, Listeria monocytogenes and toxin-producing Escherichia coli as these micro-organisms could make a person very sick.

Pumpkins (scientific name: Cucurbita maxima) are round, smooth, rib-skinned squashes with yellow to deep-orange color flesh and white edible seeds. Typical product characteristics, critical to food safety and quality, may be summarized as follows:

 

Estimated Sugar Content

(grams/100g of product)

 

 

5g /100g of Pumpkin

 

pH

 

 

4.90 – 5.50

 

Water activity (aw)

 

> 0.98

 

 

Storage Conditions

 

Whole pumpkin: 30-90 days in a cool, dry and dark place (70° F -75° F)

Sliced/packed:  2-5 days under refrigeration (32° F – 40° F)

 

(The product characteristics may differ between and within the pumpkin varieties)

Owing largely to the nature of the squash, if cut pumpkin is not processed, packed, or stored properly, it can provide the right environment for harmful bacteria to survive, grow, and spread. Therefore, during the cutting and packing of pumpkins, the following food safety tips are essential:

  1. Select good quality pumpkins – Reject over-ripe raw pumpkins that have big patches of broken, diseased, moldy, spotty, or pale skin. A good pumpkin has unblemished, intact, and bright-orange colored skin.
  2. Wash adequately before cutting – Wash the pumpkin under running warm water (with clean hands) to remove soil and to significantly reduce the microbial load on the skin. Wash every surface area of the pumpkin for 2-3 minutes. The crease lines and the areas around the stalk must be thoroughly cleaned as these spots potentially harbor a lot of soil and bacteria.
  3. Ensure tools, surfaces, and equipment used are adequately cleaned and sanitized – To avoid any cross-contamination from pathogens and foreign material, clean and appropriately sanitize the equipment, work surfaces, knives, and scoops. This step should be done well in advance of processing the pumpkin.
  4. Work in a sanitary environment – Ensure all food contact and non-food contact surfaces and areas are in good and sanitary condition, as we would not want environmental contaminants to negatively affect the safety of the product. Look out for any possible hazards that could be a food safety concern. This step is also done well before any processing of pumpkin begins.
  5. Follow good personal hygiene practices – If you’re making pumpkin products at home, you should wash your hands before starting and after cleaning the pumpkin. If you have long hair, be sure to tie it back before setting foot into the kitchen. In a food processing plant, those who handle the pumpkin must follow good manufacturing practices at all times. They must wear a hairnet, wash their hands properly, put on clean work garments, a pair of gloves and arm guards before starting their work. This prevents the spread of germs during the actual processing operation.
  6. Discard the waste properly to avoid unhygienic condition – Pumpkins should have the top with the stock removed first. Then, the pumpkin can be sliced into the desired sizes and shapes, from thin slices to thick cubes. Seeds can be laid out to dry, and the inedible middle portion of the pumpkin should be disposed of immediately.
  7. Pack and label the product – Shrink-wrap or heat-seal the exposed product using clear, clean, and dust-free polythene film. The product should be labeled by name, production date and lot number, if required for tracing the food item.
  8. Refrigerate the processed product during storage or transport – Refrigerate the product at 32° F – 40° F, within 2 hours of processing, to ensure the safety and quality of the packed product. During transportation, ensure that the juices do not leak from the package, as this may create a breeding ground for germs to grow and spread.
  9. Clean the equipment, surfaces, and area thoroughly after the processing operation – Ensure that the processing area, equipment, and tools are cleaned and appropriately sanitized within 4 hours (or preferably less) of production, to maintain the sanitation and hygiene of the preparation area. Be sure to use the correct type of scrubbing brush for the best cleaning results. The cut pumpkin can then be used to make other delicious food products. Make sure to use the refrigerated pumpkin within a few days for a better-quality product.

Following good food safety practices goes a long way in keeping food safe, and can prevent people from getting serious illnesses.

Come October 31, have a food-safe Halloween!

As Fall Approaches, Keep Food Safe From Germs

Recommendations from the Partnership for Food Safety Education

September is National Food Safety Education Month. The concept was developed by the Partnership for Food Safety Education (a non-profit organization with a mission to end foodborne infections in the U.S.) to create awareness about the importance of consumer food safety education in helping keep food safe.

According to CDC estimates, every year, 1 in 6 Americans become sick by eating contaminated food. The majority of foodborne illnesses and deaths are from noroviruses, and the pathogenic bacteria such as Salmonella, Listeria monocytogenes, and Shiga-toxin producing Escherichia coli strains. Even though everyone in the global food supply chain, from farmers to retail distributors, have shared responsibility to keep food safe, consumers also play a major role in food safety.

With the aim to reduce foodborne illness risk, the Partnership for Food Safety Education develops and promotes trusted scientific behavioral-health messages, educational resources, and tools for pertinent levels of consumers, through an active network of about 13,000 health and food safety educators. Some of the key food safety initiatives launched by the organization are as follows:

The Core Four Practices –

These food safety practices are implemented to help in avoiding or reducing the survival, growth, and spread of bacteria on food products, equipment, or surfaces.

  1. CLEAN – Wash hands and surfaces properly, and at an appropriate frequency
  2. SEPARATE – Don’t cross-contaminate raw meat with produce or cooked food
  3. COOK – Heat food to a safe internal temperature to kill harmful germs
  4. CHILL – Refrigerate food quickly to 40° F or below to slow the growth of pathogens

The “Don’t WING IT” Campaign –

This consumer initiative is designed to promote safe poultry handling practices, which are necessary to reduce the risk of illnesses from commonly found germs like Salmonella and Campylobacter.

DON’T TOUCH: The key handling steps are –

  1. Place poultry in a plastic bag provided at the meat counter
  2. Keep poultry in the plastic bag when bringing it home
  3. Place poultry on the low fridge shelf to prevent leakage from contaminating other foods

CHECK TEMPERATURE:

  • Use a Food Thermometer to ensure poultry is cooked to at least 165° F
  • Store poultry at or below 40° F

“The Story of Your Dinner” Campaign –

To support the millions of Americans who cook and share meals with family and friends, the Partnership for Food Safety Education and sponsors have developed The Story of Your Dinner recipes (that also include food safety instructions), videos, children’s activities and food preparation tips to the consumers.

More information for consumers about Food Safety Education Month is available at: http://www.fightbac.org/food-safety-education/food-safety-education-month/. The website also has offers other free resources for educators, evaluators, dieticians, teachers, and trainers.

Remco Products Corporation, your partners in hygiene, value the importance of food safety education. As a company, we provide specialized products and solutions for cleaning and material handling, along with a Knowledge Center packed full of food safety information. For more information, visit our website at: https://remcoproducts.com/.

 

Listeria’s Most Common Hideouts and How to Minimize its Risk of Spreading

This is adapted from an article from Vikan. Find the original here

Listeria is a very common bacterium that adapts well in many environments. It is found in soil, water, animal guts, and on raw foods, and it can easily be introduced into and spread throughout food production facilities.

Listeria can form biofilms that help them attach to the surface of floors, drains, and equipment – making them more difficult to remove during cleaning and protecting them from drought, heat, and standard cleaning and disinfection chemicals. Listeria biofilm is often the source of food product cross-contamination.

Additionally, Listeria can grow in cold environments and can survive freezing temperatures. These conditions are often used to control microbial growth, but for Listeria they serve only to restrict the growth of its competitors. This means that refrigerated and frozen foods still are at risk. Most ready-to-eat food processing environments are chilled and provide the nutrients and moisture required for Listeria growth. So, there’s good reason for being concerned about Listeria contamination if you produce ready-to-eat, chilled food.

Floors

Floors that are made of inappropriate materials or that have been installed poorly can lead to static water pools, water trap points, or water absorption. Badly constructed or poorly sealed wall-to-floor or drain-to-floor joints often lead to water becoming trapped, as can poorly maintained and damaged floors with cracks, holes, or gaps. All these situations can lead to Listeria colonization. Consequently, the appropriate selection, installation, and maintenance of your production floor are very important for Listeria control.

Drains

If Listeria is present in your food production facility, it will most likely be found in your drains. Drains act as collection points for most of the Listeria-contaminated water on site, and then provide the nutrients and moisture required for Listeria to grow.

Even though cleaning drains is an unpleasant and complex task, it is critical for Listeria control. Dirty drains can be a source of Listeria contamination, and flooded drains can spread listeria via pools of contaminated water on the floor. Drains should (if possible) only be cleaned during production downtime to avoid spreading listeria particles. You should also give aerosols time to settle before rinsing and disinfecting your food contact surfaces. You should use specific drain-cleaning equipment to keep contamination from spreading. Many facilities use black handles to denote that a brush should only be used on floor and drains.

Select, install, and maintain your drainage systems to eliminate the chances of standing water and water backups. Hygienically designed drainage systems are much easier to clean and maintain, and they minimize the risk of microbial growth.

Processing equipment

Like floors and drains, hard-to-clean areas on and inside food processing equipment can allow for water accumulation and contamination, which can then lead to Listeria colonization and growth.

To minimize the risk, it’s essential to use hygienically designed processing equipment, which is easy to clean and made of suitable materials that are safe for food contact.

The frequency of cleaning and disinfection should be based on a risk assessment, but for equipment used to process chilled ready-to-eat foods, it should most likely be at least once a day.

Daily cleaning should be supplemented with regular equipment strip-downs and deep cleaning to ensure that areas that are difficult to reach during daily cleaning are controlled. Again, the frequency of deep cleaning should be based on a risk assessment.

During cleaning and disinfection, pay attention to hard-to-reach areas on the equipment. These are the areas where Listeria is more likely to be present, especially if an area is wet. These areas can include poorly drained open equipment frameworks, niches, hollow unsealed rollers, poor welds, spaces inside slicing machines, and areas under covers and guards.

Equipment lubricants and moisture traps on compressed air lines can also become a source of Listeria contamination and should be changed and checked regularly to minimize this risk.

Cleaning equipment

Cleaning equipment can be a major source of Listeria contamination – with surveys showing that up to 47 percent of cleaning equipment in food-processing areas tests positive for Listeria (Campden BRI, 1990).

To prevent Listeria contamination, there are two important factors to consider for your cleaning equipment: hygienic design and proper maintenance.

Your cleaning equipment should be of appropriate hygienic design to facilitate easy cleaning and prevent microbial growth. Hygienic design features include smooth surfaces, one-piece construction, easy dismantling (if it’s not one-piece), and a lack of crevices and coatings.

In addition to using hygienically designed tools, it is very important to maintain your cleaning equipment properly. All tools should be replaced, cleaned and/or disinfected regularly after use and stored correctly on suitable wall brackets or shadow boards. It is also essential to use color-coded tools, and to segregate tools used to clean floors from those used for food contact surface cleaning.

How to avoid Listeria contamination from floors and drains

Listeria can be transferred from contaminated floors and drains to other food production areas – and to food itself – in several ways. These include footwear, equipment, and trolley wheels, as well as cleaning equipment. The best way to avoid Listeria contamination from your floors and drains is to clean and disinfect them regularly. Remember to clean floor and drains in a way that minimizes the possible contamination of other surfaces in the room. The use of high-pressure hoses or mechanical scrubbing will increase the risk of Listeria aerosolization, where the bacteria spread through the air into other areas and onto equipment, food, and food contact surfaces. Instead, use dedicated color-coded manual cleaning tools for floor and drain cleaning. Tools used to clean floors should have a different color from those used to clean drains and from those used to clean food contact surfaces.

Chillers, freezers and air-handling systems

As mentioned above, Listeria can survive at very low temperatures – even as low as 23° Fahrenheit (or -5° Celsius). Chillers and freezers are cold and wet, and Listeria faces less competition from other microorganisms in these environments, making them perfect Listeria hideouts.

It is essential to keep the evaporation plates and fans in chillers and freezers clean and disinfected at all times. Condensation from cooling systems should be directed to the drains or to drip pans, which should be emptied, cleaned, and disinfected regularly. Never allow products to pass underneath a cooling or freezing system.

In many air-handling systems, there are also evaporators that need to be cleaned. Moreover, it is critical to prevent condensation – and subsequent water buildup – in your air-handling systems.

To download the original article from Vikan, written by Stine Vislev, click below.

Relevant white papers, all of which can be found in our Knowledge Center:

The Food Code Gets a Boost at the 2018 Conference for Food Protection

Remco, as an industry support member, is proud to have sponsored and participated in the 2018 Conference for Food Protection (CFP) Biennial Meeting that took place from April 16-20 in Richmond, Virginia. The event was well-attended by over 360 members from industry, regulatory, academia, consumer and professional organizations, who mainly deliberated on the significant changes required in the U.S. FDA’s Food Code.

The Food Code is a guidance document that helps state, local, territorial, and tribal regulators to model their own food safety rules on a national policy basis, and also, to be able to provide scientific and technical basis for regulating the retail and food service industries such as restaurants, grocery stores, and nursing homes. The current 2017 Food Code version is available on FDA’s site at: https://www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceRegulation/RetailFoodProtection/FoodCode/ucm595139.htm.

The following councils were formed, in which members collectively discussed the important Food Code and various committee issues.

Council I: Laws and Regulations – Some important issues discussed were on:

  • Clean-in-Place (CIP)
  • Biofilms
  • Food Equipment Certification Standards
  • HACCP Plan

Council II: Administration, Education, and Certification – Key issues deliberated were on:

  • Employee Food Safety Training
  • Voluntary National Retail Food Regulatory Program Standards (VNRFRPS)
  • Food Allergens Training

Council III: Science and Technology – Important aspects covered were on:

  • Safety of Mail-Order Foods
  • Safe Cooking of Rotisserie Chicken
  • Handwashing Compliance Requirements

The meeting also hosted regulatory officials from the FDA CFSAN (Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition), USDA-FSIS (Food Safety and Inspection Service), and the CDC, who provided important food safety updates. There was also an interactive workshop study and a networking event at the Science Museum of Virginia included within the conference program. Overall, this event was a great opportunity for the food industry to understand and get involved in understanding and developing the policies and recommendations that strengthen our national food safety system.

The 2020 Biennial CFP conference venue will be at Denver, Colorado. More details are available at the CFP site: www.foodprotect.org.

AFDO Journeys Toward the Integrated Food Safety System Vision

Food safety took top priority at AFDO 2017

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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