will indicate how frequently, if ever,
the unit has been cleaned.
Mitigate Microbes with Your Maintenance Crew. One last overlooked
cause for microbiological cross-conta-mination is the maintenance workers
and their tools. Maintenance employees and their tools usually have unrestricted access throughout the entire
process facility. Because of this, maintenance personnel have to be included in the food safety program
and must be aware of their responsibility in preventing microbiological
contamination. It’s essential that
maintenance employees understand
that the same wrench they are using
to fix a piece of food-contact equipment was not previously used to fix a
toilet fixture or sewer pipe. Instituting
a program that requires the wiping of
all the tools with a disposable alcohol
swab prior to and after each use will
mitigate microbial contamination and
will not cause rusting.
has managed to feed the masses with very few glitches despite a very
complicated and regulated system. All indications point to the continued growth and expansion of the organic food industry bringing more
demands and regulations that will require more creative and cooperative ideas. However, the food industry needs to be more pro-active in
sharing the experiences that highlight food safety with the growing
population of smaller organic manufacturers. A well-conducted, constructive audit can accomplish just that. The words spoken by the scurrying Queen of Hearts to Alice in Wonderland are just as applicable to
the food industry: “We have to run this fast just to stay in place.” o
The auditor needs to look up, look
down and look around 360 degrees
when auditing. There really is no one-size-fits-all audit template that can be
used. The auditor needs to rely on
the “sixth sense” that comes from experience and previous situations.
Overall, the food industry around
the world does a lot of things right. It
Cliff Coles is the founder and president of
California Microbiological Consulting, Inc.
He has authored and co-authored several
publications related to quality control and
microbiological issues in the food industry.
He conducts food safety audits throughout
the world for many nonorganic and organic
companies, including Multiple Organics and
Earthbound Farm and is a certified GMA-SAFE auditor. He is a member of several corporate food safety committees and is the
process authority for the Almond Board of
California and a participating expert in FDA-sponsored food industry surveys. He can be
contacted at email@example.com.