What factors are important for producing safe products in a plant environment?
We are constantly asked this question! To give you answers, Food Plant Engineering has developed a scorecard for evaluating good manufacturing practices (GMPs) and facility design concepts. This practical guide will help you answer this and other questions about your facility.
Few plants were constructed yesterday. In fact, most food plants have grown in a fashion that does not create an optimal environment for food safety. When it comes time to upgrade and add to your facility, how do you incorporate the latest food safety ideas and GMPs into the plans?
This is a challenge for existing facilities, and one we face with every expansion/renovation project we undertake.
Click on this link (Food Safety Scorecard) to download a scorecard to measure your plant's food safety score. Every plant and process is different, so keep in mind that the purpose of the scorecard is to help foster thinking about food-safety ideas and concepts.
Read on to learn more about how apply this scorecard to what we call the Hygienic Core concept.
Where to start: The Hygienic Core
The Hygienic Core is the area (or areas) in your plant where everything comes together before it goes out the door. You can identify your Hygienic Core by defining the space where your product is last exposed before it is sealed in its final packaging. This area is an epicenter of food safety. Thus, everything traveling in and out of this zone must be controlled to eliminate food-safety hazards. All food-safety strategies must radiate from these hygienic cores.
To achieve this Hygienic Core, you must first control the flow of everything that enters this space. By "everything," we mean people, product, supplies, ingredients, packaging materials, spare parts, pallets, airflow, etc.
Personnel access to this area should be controlled and restricted. To achieve such control you may need a gowning room with timed hand wash and boot wash stations. You can set this up so that access into the plant is permitted only after a predetermined wash time has elapsed.
The airflow to the Hygienic Core must also be carefully controlled. In some cases, this may require a dedicated air handler with high levels of filtration. If the room is refrigerated, the unit should utilize outside air and HEPA filtration to supply highly-filtered air into the Hygienic Core. In all cases, the air handling system should create a pressurized space in this area. The pressurized air from the Hygienic Core then radiates outward toward the less critical processing areas.
Materials entering the room should be controlled as well. This may mean installing "pass-thru" or conveyors to deliver supplies to the space without entering the room.
These are just some of the concepts that are needed to create a Hygienic Core. Please review the Food Safety Scorecard for more ideas. When applying the concepts, remember that your food-safety system begins at the Hygienic Core and works its way outward from there.
How We Can Help
Tackling a facility project of any kind, whether it's new construction or a renovation, is complicated business when food is involved. Plan carefully and rely only on a firm with extensive experience in the food industry to get the job done right.
Food Plant Engineering has been successfully designing food facilities for more than 50 years. Let us help you protect your future.