Hazards – what are they? What comes to mind when you hear the word “hazard”? The meaning of hazard is defined as a danger or risk, chance or probability.
I have been working in the food industry as a quality and food safety professional for 27 years and during this time I have come across many different hazards and have learnt a lot about them and how to prevent them from occurring.
I believe I am very resilient after what I have seen and the practices that are carried out or should I say practices that are not carried out. I could share many stories highlighting what I’ve seen and experienced, the consumer complaints I’ve dealt with and the compensations awarded to consumers for injuries sustained when eating hazardous food products.
I have been through some very serious recalls in my time within the industry. To name a few: Big Ben pie cyanide scare, salmonella in chicken and veggie meat pies, Bacillus cereus in sausage rolls and fermenting bar cakes.
Even though I am resilient I don’t have a high tolerance for ignorance when it comes to food safety and people’s wellbeing. When I visit luxury 5 star hotels and see that the Chef’s toilet does not contain hand soap and paper towels it really stirs me up. There are no excuses for this kind of ignorance. As the law states, you “ought to know”. You cannot stand up in front of a judge and say “I didn’t know” or “I didn’t realise” as this won’t help you in a court. The law say’s “you ought to know”!
Right now if you were to walk around your premise would you be able to spot potential and actual hazards? Do you know what to look for and where to start? Do you know your company policies and quality management system? If not please read the policies and understand your business quality and food safety management system. Then you can walk through your facility knowing what to look for.
I have documented a quick and easy reference tool that can be used as a checklist to follow when walking through your facility to assist in identifying potential hazards. Walking through a facility on a regular basis is not only beneficial for greeting your associates but is recommended in order to prevent a food safety incident from occurring. Make it common practice to walk through your facility at least once a day as if hazards are overlooked they may potentially harm a consumer or cause a food safety recall. You will be amazed at what you will see, how quickly improvements can be made and how potential hazards can be prevented or eliminated. At times you can even address the hazard or potential hazard on the spot.
Tips of How to Identify High Risk Hazards Checklist:
1) Observe what visitors and contractors are doing
2) How secure is onsite security
3) Look up. Are there any potential hazards hanging from the ceiling, exposed areas etc.
4) What is inside containers and lockers, open them and look inside
5) Are the use of allergens clearly identified, separated and segregated
6) Are the screening devices operational and working correctly
7) Do operators know what to do with non-conforming products, ask them
8) Are the overheads clean and free of foreign objects
9) What is happening in Amenities, lunchrooms and plant entrances
10) Is personal hygiene and working area compliance evident
11) How are areas in the facility exposing naked products controlled and monitored
12) Are products that are brought in inspected? Where and how are they stored? Consider outsourced storage and delivery of your products
13) Are temperature control and other product testing requirements being completed and in spec
The above list is not a complete list however it is a great start and if you use this checklist every day you will eventually memorise it and be able to walk through your facility. Daily checking of the above will at least prevent 80% of potential incidents from occurring.
I also highly recommend that you complete an annual food safety capital expenses register and document what can be added in the budget for the next financial year. This will improve food safety practices, processes or equipment (including screening devices such as metal detectors or sieves).
As long as you are in control and aware of the improvements needed you can plan to monitor them, address them and when ready correct them. Rome wasn’t built in a day.
As long as you correct the serious, potential or actual hazards the other requirements can be planned to be corrected over a 1, 2 or even 3 year period depending on what the required actions are.
This is called continuous improvement and we quality and food professionals love it.
If you would like a quick chat or a site review to document your business high risk hazards please call us on 0401 700 391 or send me an email on email@example.com
Yours in trust, Dijana Green – Founder and CEO of Elevating Food Safety Pty Ltd