If you’re a food manufacturer, the spotlight is directly on you right now. With the recent Blue Bell Ice Cream recall, you should start preparing yourself for more consumer and government inquiries about your processes. How will your facility address this increased scrutiny?
In many cases, plant managers often associate food safety with proper product handling, diligent pathogen testing or sanitation procedures. However, they should also recognize facility design as a viable deterrent to risks posed by food safety failures.
Preparing for the Worst to Design the Best
Although recalls are quite unfortunate for both consumers and manufacturers, they do expose overlooked processes in a facility. To remain proactive, one of Haskell’s Food Safety Experts, John Schook suggests that facility managers identify several scenarios where food safety can fail and from there, design a process work flow that solves all of those issues.
The Unit of Operations Work Flow (UOWF), a pre-design tool, encapsulates the critical elements required for hygienic facility design. The tool analyzes business processes, procedures and policies to develop the details of the design. If you are planning to build a brand new facility, the UOWF is highly recommended; however, not every plant manager has a clean slate to start from.
Cost of Recall > Cost of Facility Design Upgrades
The majority of plant managers reading this have to work within their current plant’s restraints and budget. To stay within these parameters, plant managers place their facility at risk by implementing short-term solutions to manage long-term issues.
As a plant manager, your first step must be to invest time analyzing your work flow. Perhaps after assessing your process, you may realize that moving the location of your break room will significantly reduce the risk of allergen contamination. From a few feet above the issue, the cost of moving the break room may be a concern, but after assessing the business losses due to damaged reputation, cost of recalls, loss of shelf space and litigation, the risk of avoiding upgrades represents a major threat to profitability.
“When properly implemented, effective hygienic facility design virtually eliminates the possibility of widespread product contamination. By identifying our clients' process work flow early on, their facilities can be designed to prevent cross contamination of processed finished products with unsanitized raw materials.”
Senior Vice President,Food & Beverage
Buying Habits and Brand Reputation
The impact of food safety on consumer buying habits and brand reputation is astounding. Once a customer’s trust is broken, it is hard to gain it back. Particularly in today’s society, not only will an upset customer avoid your products, but they will share their disapproval online as well. Without reevaluating their process flow and facility layout, plant managers are practically gambling their brand reputation.
What are you willing to do to protect your reputation?
Would you like to discuss how you can avoid food safety failures through design or the advantages of the UOWF pre-design tool for an upcoming facility? Please feel free to contact us and we’ll get you in touch with one of our in-house food safety experts.