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Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Limitations of a Short List

I once attended the food safety team meeting of a food company. The team was reviewing their HACCP program and the main purpose was to identify” what could go wrong” in their operation. The operation manufactures prepared entrees that are stored and shipped frozen for customers to re-heat and serve.

Every member contributed suggestions which showed a commendable level of knowledge and interest among the team. The team members’ work experience and commitment in their respective roles was also evident in the suggestions and discussions of the possible solutions.

Although I was eager to let them know what I might also include, I waited until they were sure that they had exhausted everything possible as far as they were able to predict. They of course added the catch-all phrase “and anything else not immediately apparent”.

As I did with the team, I am holding back here as well and providing only the list that the team ended up with before my suggested considerations. The team’s list for what could possibly go wrong included the following categories of considerations:

-       Use of unsafe food items from suppliers
-       Use of poor quality items from suppliers
-     Contaminants such as flaking paint, rust and other debris from building structures or equipment
-       Equipment and processing system failures that could lead to product contamination
-       Poor sanitation leading to cross contamination (allergen, microbial or chemical)
-       Other forms of cross contamination during storage due to improper segregation
-       Contamination from personnel handling/preparing the food items due to poor GMPs
-       Preparation errors such as using the wrong food items
-       Product mislabeling or the use of the wrong packaging materials

While the team’s list was technically sound, it was short. It failed to identify at least one important consideration that needs to be included for all food operations. Your answer may be different from mine. If you wish, you may check out my answer in this article  - “Our Role in the Assurance of Safe and Sufficient Food Supplyunder the "Real Solution" heading.
Posted By Felix Amiri
Felix Amiri is the current Food Sector Chair of GCSE-Food & Health Protection 

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