Over the past few months several major companies in the food packaging industry have made headlines as a result of product recalls. Regardless of the cause of the contamination, this is an excellent reminder to examine the sanitation protocol of your facility, and identify its strengths and weaknesses. Effective sanitary food manufacturing is an area that all processors must continually work to improve.
While the total cost impact of these recalls for major food companies can be difficult to gauge, recalls affect industry and the bottom-line for countless businesses. Recalls can cost companies millions on average. According to experts, 77% of companies stated that the impact from product recall was just under $30 million, 18% reported the impact ranged between $30 to $99 Million, and 5% stated the impact was over $100 million. In addition to these estimated direct costs, companies typically experience indirect costs such as damage to the brand, company reputation, loss of consumer confidence, and leave themselves open to potential legal ramifications.
Keeping up with sanitation practices is essential to keep the risk of contamination small, and chances of a recall minimal. A 2016 study, conducted at Ohio State University by Robert L. Scharff, found that foodborne illness is estimated to have caused a $55 Billion hit to the economy. Judging by the increase of recalls in 2018, recovering from this hit may be farther away than expected. Ensuring that the food packaging process is sanitary and consistent is one more step to avoiding recall and ultimately improving food safety standards within your sanitary food manufacturing facility.
Hygienic Equipment Design
One practice that food processing companies can follow to reduce their risk associated with the causes of foodborne illnesses is to ensure that all capital equipment is designed with high sanitary standards. Equipment should feature quality materials, craftsmanship and be ergonomically designed to allow the space required for proper cleaning and maintenance.
When assessing equipment look for these elements:
- Sloped surfaces for effective water run-off
- Sanitary welds
- Welded stand-offs to prevent plate-to-plate contact
- Sanitary feet
Another area to consider is the protection class of the equipment. As the rating of the equipment increases, the ability to fully sanitize the machinery increases. According to an Automation Insights article, the ideal range is IP 67 – IP 69K, so that the equipment can withstand the washdown process. Washdown is the process of cleaning an area through high-pressure water and/or chemicals to kill bacteria, leaving the machine sanitary.
The final, and most important, area to focus on is staff training. Creating an effective training program that is specific to the industry, facility, company, and general company culture is paramount to reducing cross-contamination on the line. Covering everything from sanitary food manufacturing equipment and utensils to malpractice and personal hygiene will keep your staff up to proper sanitary standards.
Sanitation is the responsibility of the entire food industry. In food processing facilities throughout the US, cleaning and sanitation is an integral part of good hygienic practice. However, seemingly minor oversights can directly impact the economic survivability of a company. From farm, to plant, to consumer, sanitation should always be a priority. To ensure that your facility is current with sanitary practices and policies, refer to these guidelines:
- Food and Drug Administration
- North American Meat Institute
- United States Department of Agriculture
- 3-A Sanitary Standards
Improve sanitation practices in food packaging can decrease overall costs associated with product recall and cross contamination issues. Additionally, keeping sanitation and food safety continuously up to date at the forefront of food packaging will reduce long-term costs for food manufacturing companies, build the trust of consumers, and increase the overall well-being of the public.
To learn more about how Harpak-ULMA Packaging can help your sanitation concerns, click here for a free consultation today.