In 2011, the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) was established to switch the focus of food safety from response, to prevention. Prior to FSMA, the U.S. food supply was left alone unless contamination entered. Only then would actions be made to remove the contamination and keep food safe. This was a highly unsuccessful technique, and often led to facilities being shut down for long periods of time, or unidentified contamination to remain within the U.S. food supply. The FSMA was developed to give the FDA greater regulatory authority to ensure foods from both foreign sources and foods manufactured and distributed in the US are fit for consumption.
With the FSMA, the FDA can mandate a company to conduct a product recall whereas prior to FSMA product recalls were essentially voluntary. In addition, the FDA can impose fines and penalties up to $500,000 against companies and may include criminal prosecution.
The FSMA has also affected the FDAs policing of grocery retailers. Grocery retailers have an implied legal duty under the new law. When grocery stores are notified of a product recall they have an obligation to remove the recalled product from shelves. Traceability is critical for food companies and retailers when a recall is issued.
It is clear that the safest way to maintain food safety is by working to prevent it. This means food plant architecture, plant managers, employees, plant design, and plant equipment need to all work together to keep contamination out.
The American Meat Institute created a list of the “10 Principles of Sanitary Equipment Design” over ten years ago, but because of budgeting and the need for fast production speeds, many food plants are struggling to meet these principles.
One major thing to consider when design a plant is the number of flat surfaces. Flat surfaces are great breeding places for microorganisms. The more flat surfaces a plant has, the greater risk there is for contamination. The risk increases with the number of flat surfaces near water. Such surfaces include washing areas, weighing areas with scales such as digital bench scales and floor scales, and conveyor belts.
Of course, flat surfaces are necessary, and therefore, when designing a plant, you must consider the equipment’s finish. The surface must be smooth, impermeable, free of cracks and crevices, corrosion resistant, durable, non-toxic, non-porous, non-absorbent, non-contaminant, non-reactive, and cleanable. Choosing the right coating for equipment based on the job is important. Stainless steel, for example, corrodes less rapidly than ordinary steel and the type of stainless steel finish with corrosion resistance can decrease contamination risk. Be sure to decipher the difference during design to ensure you have equipment that can be effectively cleaned to eliminate bacteria buildup and contamination.
To maintain food safety, equipment upgrades and facility renovations are necessary, and it is imperative food safety requirements are met in the process. If you are upgrading on a budget, you should start with an internal audit on your design and equipment. This will tell you what aspects of your plant are prone to food safety breaches, how long they take to fix, and at what cost.
Nowadays, most manufacturers are engineering equipment to enhance cleaning and sanitization efforts, but not all. For this reason, sanitization requirements for upgrades or modifications should be discussed. Do you need to purchase a new digital bench scales or floor scales? Make sure they are designed to be hygienic.
Purchasing Digital Bench Scales
Are you in need of upgrading or purchasing new digital bench scales? Acme Scales has proudly served our customers’ scale requirements since 1913.
We provide on-site application and engineering support and offer a “Quality Assurance Program” for scale calibration and repairs.
Our digital bench scales are fully hygienic, designed to be easily cleaned and greatly reduce the risk of contamination.
If you are interested in learning more about our digital bench scales, contact us today.