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Inspectle Food Safety Inspection Software

Food Handling Practices for Producers: Examples and Essential Tips


Food handling practices for food manufacturers

Why Proper Food Handling Practices Matter

If you've ever had food poisoning, you know just how miserable it can make you feel. Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea are unpleasant symptoms that can ruin your day. You get why proper food handling is so important.  


Now, magnify that by thousands, if not millions, and you see why it is something to take seriously by Group Quality Managers in larger manufacturing environments. It is no surprise that food safety and preventing foodborne illnesses is the  #1 risk in the food and beverage industry. 


The consequences of improper food handling can be severe. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), each year in the United States, 48 million people get sick from a foodborne illness, resulting in 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths.  


Beyond just the direct impact on health and well-being, the reputational cost can impact consumer behavior and how your partners in your supply chain and regulators view your company.


Here's how food handling in food manufacturing can impact everyone in your boardroom: 



Data from a scientific study on food recalls

Creating a culture where people dare to care


These numbers are staggering and highlight the need for proper food-handling practices for manufacturers, as food safety is a cornerstone of our public health and your business.


Your money and reputation are on the line. 


Furthermore, food safety practices go beyond your manufacturing processes. It involves the entire food supply chain, from farm to fork, raw material procurement, and finished product distribution. 


Often, your company is just one part of a bigger chain. But you can stand out in a positive light.


Is an organization passionate about quality possible? Yes!

That sounds fantastic. However, there are hidden icebergs that quality people have to navigate through.


Even inside your company, you must involve multiple people across different teams. That is always challenging. Think of a scenario when you are implementing good manufacturing practices (GMPs) and trying to get everyone to adhere to essential food safety regulations and standards, and you get stuck.  


Getting lofty standards from PowerPoints and PDFs to everyday reality usually involves manual work. It takes time and energy, and people may not have time or focus to spare outside their daily duties. 


Why does that happen?

There is a simple, practical reason: processes and tools must match what you want people to do. Tools often do not fit your goals, so people feel frustrated and give up. 

Simply put, people have no easy way to do what standards demand.


There is a much better way to get things done with Inspectle Food.


 

Make sure you are leading the way in food safety. Schedule a demo with Inspectle Food today to see how our intelligent automation tools can simplify your food hygiene inspections, cut down on paperwork, and help you track and resolve issues in real-time. Start improving your food safety protocols and protecting your product quality now.



 

Five Essential Food Handling Practices and Ways


An infographic showing the hierarchy of food handling practices
An infographic showing the hierarchy of food handling practices

It is a well-known food industry best practice that Quality Managers should establish procedures and make it easy for frontline workers to act according to quality standards to maintain consistency, quality, and safety.


How do you do that across multiple plants and production facilities? 


1. Effective Cleaning Techniques for Food Preparation Areas

Let's start with a single area. When cleaning food preparation areas, it's essential to follow these steps:


  • Pay special attention to high-touch surfaces such as countertops, cutting boards, ovens, and utensils, as these and their vicinities are common breeding grounds for bacteria and pests. 

  • Regularly cleaning and sanitizing these surfaces can help prevent the spread of germs and ensure the safety of your food.

  • Make sure that the drains are clean and sanitized. The drains and piping system below possess perfect conditions for pathogen biofilm formation

  • Monitor what is happening higher than 2 meters on the wall and above the production lines to schedule cleaning at heights. Dirty pipes, ventilation filters, and wires are sources of pests if cleaned sparingly. 


2. Preventing Cross-Contamination Across Areas

Considering each area separately is insufficient because people and materials move across multiple ones. 


That is why cross-contamination is a significant risk in large food production environments. Use dedicated equipment for different food types and regularly train staff on proper handling techniques. Implementing strict hygiene protocols and automated systems to reduce human error can help mitigate this risk.


3. Safe Food Storage Practices

Once active processing is done, proper storage is critical for food safety. Use industrial-grade refrigeration units and regularly check temperatures to ensure they remain within safe limits. Implement first-in, first-out (FIFO) inventory systems to reduce the risk of using expired ingredients.


Regarding safe food storage, there are several factors to consider beyond just the temperature settings of your appliances.


Checking your storage containers are clean and airtight can also significantly prevent contamination and spoilage. Opt for containers made of glass or food-grade plastic, and always label them with the date the food was stored to help you keep track of freshness.


4. Cleaning and Sanitizing

Maintaining a clean production environment after processing is essential. Use effective cleaning agents and sanitizers, and ensure that all equipment and surfaces are cleaned regularly. Automate cleaning processes where possible to ensure consistency and thoroughness.


Sanitizers play a crucial role in food safety by reducing the number of harmful bacteria on surfaces. When using sanitizers:


Proper sanitation helps kill bacteria and prevents the development of biofilms, which are communities of bacteria that can form on surfaces. By incorporating sanitizing practices into your cleaning routine, you can maintain a safe and healthy production environment for you and your family.


5. Personal Hygiene of Employees

Last but not least. Personal hygiene plays a crucial role in food handling. Practicing good personal hygiene habits can further reduce the risk of foodborne illnesses. This starts with a hand washing routine, the proper way of wearing and applying protective clothing, and rules for wearing personal accessories:


  • rings

  • gel nails

  • eyelash extensions



How to Handle Food Safely with Software

Fine, once you have implemented the basics - how can you take it further?


You can use software solutions like Inspectle Food to automate inspections, track non-conformities, and generate real-time reports. These tools help streamline food safety management and ensure adherence to regulatory standards.


1. Clean:

Check that all surfaces and equipment are thoroughly cleaned and stored before and after handling food. Using clean equipment in a clean environment according to internal cleaning procedures is vital in facilities.


Reasonable enough. How do you make that happen?


Here's how Inspectle can lend a helping hand


Capture non-conformities for better food handling


Once you notice anything that is not according to your cleaning procedures or processes and a clear threat to food safety due to the apparent uncleanliness, you can snap a quick photo, add a comment, and the task is delegated directly to the correct responsible person, regardless of whether you want to register a single observation on the go or have a planned 1-hour time window for a comprehensive regular inspection for multiple areas. 


All the data is easily accessible and stored in one place to see overview trends or the status of individual non-conformances. 


2. Separate:

Avoid cross-contamination by separating raw ingredients and processed foods. Use color-coded equipment and designated areas for different types of food processing.


Here's how quality managers use Inspectle to avoid cross-contamination


Keep contamination in check with Inspectle Food


3. Process: 

Processing food involves multiple aspects. Processing equipment and conveyors where the product moves, environment above and below the machines, people handling the equipment and SIM boards, and stations process aid items, spear parts, and documentation. A lot can happen around the production lines, and it’s important to register all observations that deviate from the safety practices, whether it is wearing our conveyor belts, people misusing beard masks, or not correctly filling out cleaning schedule documents. 


Any quality manager knows you must process foods just the right way in just the right mix to kill harmful bacteria and ensure the reliable, repeatable quality your brand is known for. To do that, you need to make recording non-conformities easy enough that anyone can do it in any of your manufacturing plants, regardless of their background or technical know-how.


Here's how you can check all tools work as intended.

Just snap a photo, and shift supervisors get notified of what needs to be done to eliminate deviations.

 

Keep production going with Inspectle Food


4. Raw materials: 

When raw materials arrive, inspect them for any signs of contamination, such as dirt, unusual smells, or foreign objects. Store these materials in clean, pest-free areas. Use covered containers and proper shelving to avoid cross-contamination. Clean and sanitize storage areas regularly and follow good food handling practices to keep raw materials safe throughout production.


Here's how you can note down any problems with raw materials storage


Keep raw materials safe



Food Safety Laws and Certificates

Food safety means making sure the food we eat is safe and free from harmful substances. This protects our health and well-being. Governments have set up rules and guidelines to ensure high food safety standards.


As quality managers, it's our job to stay updated with these rules. This helps our organizations meet the latest standards and keep our food products safe for everyone.


In the United States

One of the most significant food safety regulations in the United States is the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). FSMA is a set of rules that help stop food from making people sick by preventing problems before they start. It involves regular checks and quick actions if something goes wrong.


This set of regulations focuses on proactively preventing foodborne illnesses. It emphasizes preventative controls, thorough inspection and compliance measures, and swift response to outbreaks.


  1. AIB The AIB standard is based on visual inspection. AIB focuses on looking at the actual cleanliness and condition of the facility. It's about making sure everything looks clean and well-kept.

  2. SQF is more detailed than AIB. It not only checks for cleanliness but also looks at the entire process from farm to table to ensure both safety and quality.


In the EU

The EU has some of the world's most stringent food safety laws. For example, the European Union has the General Food Law Regulation, which establishes the principles and requirements of food law across member states. These laws aim to ensure the safety and integrity of the food supply chain, from farm to fork.


  1. BRC is used in the UK and focuses on monthly inspections to keep food safe.

  2. IFS looks at both the safety and quality of food at every stage, from production to delivery. It's widely used in Europe, especially in Germany.

  3. FSSC 22000 is based on ISO 22000 but adds extra requirements. It's recognized worldwide and covers all types of food manufacturers.

  4. ISO 22000 is a global standard for managing food safety. It helps set up a system to keep food safe from start to finish.



Experience the difference with Inspectle Food


Inspectle Food's platform offers intelligent automation tools that save time, reduce paperwork, and facilitate real-time non-conformity tracking and resolution. With automatic reporting, notifications, and trusted industry compliance, Inspected Food empowers your quality team to focus on what matters most. Ready to transform your food safety procedures?