Contamination In Food Production

How To Prevent Contamination In Food Production

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Whether you’re new in scaling out your food production or you’re already an established business owner in the food industry, prevention of contamination is regarded with utmost importance. Contamination can pose a risk not only to your workers but also to your consumers who’ll buy your food products. Infection and cross-contamination are factors likely to occur in food production facilities. 

It’s important to learn what potential risks are when it comes to food manufacturing and processing. When you know how food can be easily contaminated, you can take steps in preventing it. There are many food safety hazards that can cause contamination, these are categorized into three: physical, biological, and chemical contamination.

Guidelines are followed at different stages of food production to lessen the risk of possible contamination. This starts from the acquiring of raw materials to inspecting the end product.

If you have a small food business and still haven’t ventured into mass production, these guidelines are still applicable to you if you’re making your food products in a small kitchen. Below are the ways to prevent contamination in food production. 

Maintain High Standards Of Personal Hygiene

The primary aspect to consider is the individual who handles the raw materials or ingredients in food production. Many risks of contamination stem from the people who handle the food, so here are some tips to practice in the food production line:

  • Wash hands: Microorganisms are introduced to the food from the people who forget to wash their hands. It’s important to practice washing hands before handling the food, after handling raw food – meat, eggs, fish, and vegetable, and after touching dirty surfaces. Failure to do this will increase the risk of contamination.

  • Wear gloves: Aside from washing hands, wearing gloves is also a necessity when handling food, especially raw meat. Note that you must change gloves if you’re handling different types of ingredients to prevent cross-contamination.

  • Use hair protection: Of course, nobody wants to see hair in their food because this is one of the biggest single causes of contamination in food. Aside from that, it has the potential to be a choking hazard. Also, this is mandated by the 2013 Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Food Code that food handlers are required to use hairnets or bouffant caps, and beard nets, if necessary.

  • Avoid wearing jewelry: Jewelry worn by workers that accidentally get into food items could also be a potential choking hazard and can enhance entry of pathogens to the food like hair. To ensure this wouldn’t happen, you can use manufacturing tools like the TDI Packsy food metal detector and similar ones for the final inspection of the end product.

  • Wear clean uniforms:  To further prevent the risk of contamination, wearing clean uniforms is a must in every food production process. Some food manufacturing companies might also require specialized uniforms or suits in handling different types of food or ingredients.

  • Check your employees’ health: It’s a prerequisite for every food handler that they’re free from any communicable diseases as they handle food. Check your employees through supervisory observation or a medical examination regularly.

Acquire Raw Materials From Trusted Sources

Sourcing your raw materials is considered an important step in food production. Whether it’s plant or animal, farmed or obtained in the wild, you should make sure that the ingredients you’re using are safe for human consumption, and is edible. Otherwise, you can harm other people if you neglect this step.

Most raw materials come from farms and ranches, with some even enjoying government support. You have to make sure that these places are following the health safety protocols to prevent possible contraction of diseases from animals. As for farmed fresh produce, you have to ensure that they only use clean water for irrigation before harvest.

Also, make sure to wash the raw materials first before it goes into the food handlers’ team. Non-sanitized raw goods usually harbor a large number of pathogens such as Salmonella, E. coli, and the like that can harm one’s well-being if consumed. Raw materials and ingredients like unpasteurized milk, leafy greens, raw eggs, meat, poultry, and seafood pose the highest bacterial contamination hence utmost caution is advised.

Clean Equipment and Facilities Regularly

food hygiene

Another essential cross-contamination prevention rule is to regularly clean your equipment and facilities.

  • Equipment: It’s important to regularly clean the tools and equipment you use in food production. Pathogens can survive for a long time on surfaces like storage containers, countertops, utensils, and food manufacturing equipment. This could transfer a large volume of pathogens to the food you produce. Also note that this could happen at any point in production, not only in food manufacturing plants but also in your home.

  • Facilities: Aside from the equipment sanitation, you must take measures in preventing external contamination for your food operations. Meaning, you have to invest in a good pest prevention program to avoid infestations in your facilities. Pests like cockroaches, rodents, and mosquitoes could bring many pathogens with them and infect your food products.

Practice Segregation and Separation

Keeping the bacteria-transferring ingredients or foods separate is one good practice to avoid cross-contamination. Large-scale food processing centers must segregate workstations and the necessary equipment to further reduce this risk.

Changing the tools depending on the step of food production has a similar benefit. Aside from cross-contamination, you can avoid combining non-allergy inducing food items with those that have potential allergens in them.

To make it more efficient, you can use color-coding then provide clear guidelines to your employees to help them identify which is which. For small-scale food operations, this might not be necessary because you might be the only one doing all the work. Long story short, be organized.

Control Room Conditions

Lastly, setting up the room conditions by installing instruments for the regulation of temperature, humidity, power of Hydrogen (pH), and others will help in preventing the growth of undesirable microorganisms. It should also be routinely checked and maintained according to the preferred standards depending on their designated uses.

Final Thoughts

As long as you’re preparing food, preventing contamination is necessary – not only for food business owners but also for regular consumers. It can help you ensure the safety of other people, and prevent serious and deadly consequences from occurring. Knowing about the source of the risks will help you learn how to prevent them.

Following specific guidelines and having modern programs will help you navigate the ins and outs of your food production and processing. Practicing good hygiene, cleaning and sanitizing your equipment, controlling room conditions, and making sure you have the best and clean source of ingredients or raw materials will significantly reduce the risks.

Read more: Impossible Foods to launch



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