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EDUCATION Changing culture key for food safety Many large bakeries in the US were built 40, 50 or even 60 years ago and feature older equipment not designed to today’s sanitary standards. Joe Stout, CEO and founder of Commercial Food Sanitation, addressed this issue during a presentation on “Bakery Challenge: Working with Legacy Infrastructure and Equipment in the FSMA Era.” Signed into law earlier this year, the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) removes the burden of proof from the Food and Drug Administration and places it on the shoulders of the industry, according to Stout. Complying with aspects of this new law will be most difficult for small singleplant companies that don’t have corporate support, he added. However, later in the presentation, he praised such a facility that he recently had visited. Stout said he was thrilled to see such a clean facility, and he explained the reason the plant was so clean is because everyone was held accountable and it cleaned the right way. Stout described the clean plant equation, and he pointed out that one of the most important variables in this equation is that it must be supported by leadership and that there is accountability at all levels. “Food safety can’t be a priority — it needs to be a culture change,” said Stout, noting that a culture of food safety includes passionate and trained employees. Because bakeries often have employees that have worked there for 20 to 30 years, it is difficult to change the culture, he added. In fact, many older bakers often don’t feel that sanitation is a huge issue because the oven is often seen as the equalizer, a kill step for pathogens, but Stout suggested that that attitude is not the proper attitude for bakers. One of the challenges with sanitizing older equipment is the ability to do it without introducing water, as that can promote Salmonella and Listeria growth. And yes, Listeria can be found in bakeries even though people don’t normally look for it, Stout noted. Where does a legacy facility start? These plants are not most likely going to replace all equipment at one time because that would cost tens of millions of dollars. However, Stout recommended that they replace the equipment that presents the highest risk first and begin modifying existing equipment so that it is cleanable. In the past 12 years, recalls have more than doubled from 3,000 in 1997-98 to 8,100 in 2009-10. But one of the main reasons recalls have increased so dramatically is that today more technology to detect pathogens exists. And despite these increases, Stout claimed that today’s food supply is safer than ever before. Preventive maintenance can save time and money The Boy Scouts aren’t the only ones whose motto is Be Prepared. Rick Stier, consulting food scientist, believes preventive maintenance is the key to have a successful and efficient processing operation. Stier presented these ideas in his “Building Preventive Maintenance Programs to Save Money and Enhance Efficiencies” education session Wednesday afternoon. “Think of all the things we do in life to prevent problems later,” Stier said. “We go to the dentist, change oil in our cars, trim back the branches on our trees, clean our gutters. All of this helps us to avoid problems later. This is just as important in processing operations.” Stier explained that preventive maintenance is a multi-step process. First, take inventory and understand equipment. Then develop procedures for inspection and maintenance. Finally, develop recordkeeping procedures. “Recordkeeping is essential. It Meat&Poultry • will protect your operation if there’s ever an audit,” he explained. “The rule of thumb is, if it’s not written down, it didn’t happen.” Stier summarized by telling the audience, “Preventive maintenance programs are one of the most important programs you could implement in your operation. They can enhance efficiencies in your operation and help your company save money.” • Thursday, Nov. 3, 2011 / PROCESS EXPO TODAY 9

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Process Expo - November 3, 2011

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