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FOOD SAFETY SUMMIT 2014

Wisdom trumps washing in effective sanitation programs

By Jenni Spinner+

10-Apr-2014
Last updated on 11-Apr-2014 at 09:37 GMT

Jeff Mitchell of ChemStar says proper employee training is key to a food operation's sanitation program.
Jeff Mitchell of ChemStar says proper employee training is key to a food operation's sanitation program.

Thorough staff training is more important to a food sanitation program's chances of success than the chemicals used to clean equipment, according ChemStar.

Jeff Mitchell, director of food safety for ChemStar, told FoodProductionDaily while the cleaning chemicals suppliers like his firm offer are an important weapon in an operation’s sanitation arsenal, they’re not the only necessary component.

“It’s not just the chemicals that get your equipment effectively clean,” Mitchell said. “You need the proper employee training.”

Critical cleaning

Mitchell said sanitation training and advancement of food safety knowledge among plant staff should drive a food company’s main motivation, not getting all the documentation in place. Getting sanitation processes and procedures nailed down, he told FPD, is good for business.

Good sanitation and proper execution prevents contamination across the board, from the original food product to the equipment to the retail environment,” Mitchell said, adding proper sanitation practices promote product quality, foster customer satisfaction, and cut the risk of foodborne illnesses.

Information presentation

Another key to a sanitation plan's success, Mitchell said, is simplicity.

Your sanitation program should be as simple as possible,” he said. “If it’s complicated and hard to follow, the less likely it is for your employees to follow it correctly.”

Mitchell pointed out Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) rules food operation sanitation procedures be properly documented. Presenting them to employees in the same way can improve their retention of such information, he said.

Key components

Mitchell broke down an effective sanitation program as having four primary components: First, a sanitation manager must assess its situation (including personnel, products produced, cleaning and sanitation tools, and equipment involved). Next, staff must validate procedures, products, scientific data, and other factors.

Following that, sanitation managers must train their teams; seminars, hands-on training, videos, and electronic tools can further staff knowledge. Finally, managers must verify the fitness of their sanitation programs, using swabs, visual inspections, checking products product, and touching base with customer surveys.

Mitchell spoke to FPD at the Food Safety Summit, an annual conference and exposition focusing on current safety concerns and emerging technologies. The event was held in Baltimore, US, April 8-10.

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