Food manufacturing requires a complex network of operations and processes to ensure consistency, production volume, and, most importantly, safety.
Did you know that one in six Americans suffer from a foodborne illness every year? Of those 48 million affected people, an estimated 128,000 will be hospitalized, and 3,000 will die.
Contamination can happen at any stage of the Food & Beverage supply chain, so regulators are focusing on prevention to mitigate risk and reduce the number of adverse events.
How Does Packaging Factor into Food Safety?
Packaging remains one of the most important parts of the chain to protect consumers and maintain food safety best practices.
From the types of materials used to hygiene practices in the facility, manufacturers can ensure they put safety first and prevent contamination. But they also must make considerations based on the distance the product may travel, consumer preferences, and more.
We have compiled several tips to enhance your food safety measures and improve your packaging.
Choose the right packaging for your product ingredients
When it comes to food packaging materials, manufacturers must consider their physical and chemical properties to ensure safety. Testing and verification are hallmarks in this material selection process. The most common packaging materials include the following:
- Recycled Materials
Depending on the food or beverage product, it might make more sense to use some packaging materials over others. For example, suppose a product has a high-fat content or is wet. This will impact the type of packaging used as it could cause an adverse chemical reaction or reduce the effectiveness of the packaging materials. The FDA maintains a comprehensive database on packaging and ingredients here.
Incorporate extra safety to ensure consumer confidence
Consumers will not know the processes and steps involved in manufacturing and packaging when purchasing a product. Tamper-free packaging adds an extra level of protection and acts as a warning to the consumer.
If a product has been tampered with, it could cause serious health effects to the person consuming or using it. Examples of tamper-free packaging include shrink wrap, seal bands, and lidding films.
Add proper safety labels to prevent adverse events
One of the most common causes of adverse health events is improper labeling. For example, if someone has a food allergy and that allergen isn’t listed on the label, this could result in a serious health outcome. Not coincidentally, improper labeling is one of the most common reasons product recalls occur under FSMA regulations. Labeling issues include but are not limited to incorrectly listing all ingredients, erroneous nutritional information, and hard-to-read fonts.
Utilize packaging equipment that makes sanitation easier
If your packaging equipment is challenging to clean or has outdated features that cause debris buildup, this will impact how well your team can perform cleaning procedures.
Our Food & Beverage packaging solutions ensure the highest sanitation and throughput available. We designed our accumulators, conveyors, and other packaging equipment to be easy to clean. Some of the features we added to ensure easy sanitizing include the following:
- Chains that can be lifted out of the tracks
- Open tracks so debris falls straight to the floor
- No hard–to-reach surfaces
- Clean-out slots
- All components specified for washdown duty
These design features reduce the risk of contamination and allow workers to complete any cleaning and maintenance tasks faster, ensuring maximum completion and compliance. We can also customize our equipment with other design features to align with your food safety standards.
Develop a culture of safety and hygiene in your facility
When it comes to your facility, it’s essential to foster a Safety First culture where safety-driven protocols and procedures are followed.
One of the easiest ways to start is implementing hygiene junctions at entrances and exits for workers to wash their hands and apply or remove any required personal protective equipment (PPE).
Additionally, difficult areas in the facility for preventing contamination are at the ingredient and finishing stages, where the products could be affected before they are packaged. Protecting open products before packaging by limiting exposure to lights or piping will negate this challenge to the best of your ability.
Finally, you should also invest significantly in training and education to ensure workers know all safety rules and understand how they apply in their day-to-day tasks.
Although human error cannot be mitigated completely, you can take steps to ensure buy-in from the top down and educate employees on their role in maintaining food safety across the facility.
Helping Manufacturers Improve Food Safety
If you are looking for ways to improve food safety on your line, contact our line specialists today to discover ways you can replace or configure your equipment to prioritize safety and hygiene on the line and in your facility.