It’s no question that food safety matters, especially when it comes to processing. In fact, as consumer and producer relationships grow more and more connected thanks to instant online communication, high safety standards matter more than ever.
In a recent article from Food Safety News, the latest E. coli outbreak has brought “the total number of people infected with the outbreak strain to 177 across 10 states (…) twenty-one people have been admitted to hospitals.” With grand totals of 113,434 pounds of raw ground beef recalled in Colorado and 53,200 in Illinois, the recent impact of the recall is nothing less than disastrous — for consumers affected and processors alike.
Why food safety matters
According to the FDA’s 2013 Food Code, the annual cost of foodborne illness in terms of pain and suffering, reduced productivity and medical costs are estimated to be $10-83 billion. The truth of the matter is simple: processors’ food safety standards are getting more and more attention. When the spotlight is on you, it’s crucial to understand that one small issue can cause detrimental results for your processing plant.
A 2016 Fortune article stated that more than half of the three dozen international processing companies interviewed by the Grocery Manufacturers Association reported being impacted by a food recall in the previous five years. Eighteen percent of those said the hit from the recall and lost sales was “between $30 million and $99 million; 5 percent said the financial impact was $100 million or more.” The long-term reputational damage to companies can have an even steeper price tag.
How to avoid the “R” word
As processing supply chain methods continue to ramp up and the risk of recall grows, processors must keep best practices at top of mind. While there are plenty to abide by, the development of your food safety management system (FSMS) is perhaps the most important. Designing and implementing a compliant FSMS can help organizations improve in many areas beyond the reactive approach many take in the face of a food safety crisis—as you can see per the consequences above, reactive thinking is never the approach processors want to take. In order to align premium food safety standards with your FSMS, you first have to understand the federally-enforced components of one of its most integral parts: the conveyor belt.
FDA: The Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) mission is to protect the population from the harmful effects of substances present in foods, or from substances which in any way have an effect on foods that may be harmful to humans. Because conveyor belts are used on a large scale for transporting foods which come in direct contact with the belt coating, the FDA has compiled a list of raw materials allowed in the coatings. Because the FDA does not test or certify products, it is the responsibility of the manufacturer to declare that belt covers meet FDA requirements.
USDA: Similarly, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) develops and executes policy on farming, agriculture and food. The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is responsible for ensuring all that meat, poultry and processed egg products in the US are safe to eat and accurately labeled. Because conveyor belts are often used for unpacked products, USDA and FSIS-regulated food products must not suffer harmful effects from the belt coatings. In addition, all belts must be thoroughly cleanable.
Because the color blue rarely exists naturally in food products, blue has become the standard for food processors’ FSMS in bakery, confectionery, dairy, meat, fish and poultry processing plants. Remaining food residues are more visible on blue conveyor belts, meaning that the entire processing line is easily cleaned and kept according to regulation.
The blue material does not reflect as much light as traditional smooth white belt surfaces, improving the visibility and working conditions for your staff. Simply put, if your staff can see and work better, they can more easily practice top safety standards, further reducing risk.
Luckily, many processors nationwide don’t carry the extra burden of remembering and abiding by these necessary (while often complicated) standards anymore. Why? They chose Shipp Belting as their conveyor belting supplier.
Why you need a Solutions Engineer
Shipp Belting offers FDA and USDA Certified products stringently tested by the manufacturers themselves. When you choose to work with Shipp, you’re choosing to remove the hassle and stress of abiding by the standards and placing it on the shoulders of those who know them best: the experts.
The Shipp Belting team knows the regulations. They’re well-versed in the requirements and non-negotiables of the food safety industry. With over 85 years of industry experience behind us, our team of Solutions Engineers works to ensure your plant enjoys the daily confidence of using efficient and up-to-standard belting.
Reactive thinking will only harm your organization. Shipp Belting’s Solutions Engineers specialize in providing proactive strategy and product offerings. Solutions Engineers understand your organization’s unique product needs and custom-fit a solution built with your success in mind. Our experience goes beyond food processing—we currently work with partners in original equipment manufacturing, distribution and warehouse, scrap and recycled materials, box and paper and building supply. As these industries also have tightly regulated safety standards, Shipp Belting supplies product that is dependable and suited for success in each.
Shipp’s Solutions Engineers have the expertise and multi-industry knowledge to make sure you never doubt where your organization stands in regards to food safety regulations—with Shipp, you’re never in a gray area, there’s never a question. We work with prospective customers and long-time partners alike to make sure they receive well above the regulated standard.
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