Q&A: Talking Food/Plant Safety and Security

Food Manufacturing recently had the opportunity to correspond with George Gansner, Director, Marketing & Business Development, IFS Management, to discuss trends, topics and issues related to plant safety and security.

Plant safety and security is an important topic for food manufacturers. Keeping a food facility, its products and its employees safe is a top priority.

Food Manufacturing recently had the opportunity to correspond with George Gansner, Director, Marketing & Business Development, IFS Management, to discuss trends, topics and issues related to food/plant safety and security. IFS Management is a leading global food safety and quality certification standard owner with standards benchmarked to Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) benchmarks when possible. More than 16,000 facilities around the world are certified to IFS standards.

Q: What are some of the top plant safety and security measures every food company should have in place?

A: From a basic point of view, every plant should have current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMPs), a good Prerequisite Program (PRPs), and a verified and validated HACCP program. To take this a step further, a GFSI certification like IFS is required more and more by retailers and mainline producers. These globally recognized programs include measures for food defense.
 
Q: What challenges do food manufacturers face in regards to plant safety and security?

A: The main challenges facing plant safety and security today are recalls and FSMA. We’re seeing that most recalls in North America and around the world are related to mislabeling and allergens. These can be easily avoided through an effective program to control labeling and allergens. In security, it’s very clear we’re concerned around the world about food fraud and intentional adulteration from a terroristic point of view.
 
Q: What are some emerging trends and solutions when it comes to plant safety and security?

A: Probably the biggest emerging trend is certification of the full supply chain to GFSI standards like IFS, BRC, and SQF. These programs allow organizations to work toward continuous improvement in their systems and products while meeting globally benchmarked levels of safety and quality.
 
Q: How can workplace safety and security impact food safety?

A: There are several ways workplace safety and security impact food safety. First, maintaining a safe working environment for employees reduces the possibility that injuries occur on the job and in worst cases that foreign materials don’t get into the food products. A good system of security, including a process for employees to monitor each other with the possibility of anonymous tips in light of potentially serious actions, leads to reduction in risk of food safety issues.
 
Q: What specific impact or influence has technology had on plant safety and security in recent years?

A: Technology can be anything from improvements in X-ray and foreign material management to progressive labeling software or cameras to ensure proper labeling. These advances will continue and will reduce the impact of errors leading to recalls and withdrawals.
 
Q: In what ways has the Food Safety Modernization Act impacted plant safety and security?

A: FSMA has taken food safety up a few notches. It’s not possible now to ignore food safety regulations which could lead to serious health hazards or food safety problems. The federal government has the authority to shut down a facility or company simply based on the possibility there is a problem. If your inspector suspects there could be an issue, it could instantly lead to a shutdown. So taking steps to do the right thing not only keeps a facility legal, but also improves safety and security of the company, its employees, and the products they deliver.

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