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Food Safety

Food Safety is the single concern shared by all food manufacturers.  The production of safe food is a prerequisite to everything else a processor does. Thus, producing safe food encompasses every aspect of the operation of a food plant. Every department, from  maintenance to quality control, is responsible for the food safety system.

The primary purpose of a food safety system is the control of food safety hazards. (Any biological, chemical, or physical property that may cause a food to be unsafe for human consumption is considered a food safety hazard.) Every food safety system includes the following three elements: Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs), Standard Operation Procedures (SOPs), and Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point plans (HACCP plans).

GMP’s comprise the first tier of a facility’s food safety system. GMPs are the practices, principles, and procedures that control operational conditions in the facility and allow favorable conditions for the production of safe products. Production equipment and methods, maintenance planning and methods, and facility design and construction are all part of  good manufacturing practices. Together, these GMPs provide a “benchmark” for facility operation and design.  Since GMP’s are the first tier of  a facilities food safety system, a food production facility without good manufacturing practices in place will not be able to effectively implement the second tier of the system, standard operation procedures.

Standard operating procedures consist of step-by-step descriptions and instructions for what, how and when tasks are to be performed for a GMP.  Standard operation procedures typically include sanitation and maintenance procedures. Keep in mind, however, that if a food plant is not designed for sanitation and ease of maintenance, any standard operating procedure will be ineffective.  The quality of the building’s construction is irrelevant if the design does not promote food safety.

The top tier of a facility’s food safety system is the HACCP plan, the last line of defense for  controlling a food safety hazard.  This plan focuses on the hazards that are not controllable by GMPs and SOPs.  A HACCP plan, however, must   rely on the underlying foundation of a facility’s GMPs and SOPs in order to be effective. A HACCP plan should be developed for every product category produced in a facility.

Thus, the backbone of every food safety system is the facility layout and design.  A solid food safety system depends on many elements, such as HACCP plans and Sanitation Standard Operation procedures. But these elements cannot stand on their own merit without a facility designed to facilitate the implementation of these plans. Facility planning and design is a crucial part of the foundation on which a good food safety system is built.