Food safety standards

by marketing on 2 de November de 2022

Regulation in the food sector

Health, and therefore food safety, is one of the issues of greatest concern to governments worldwide. For this reason, each country has its own regulations to guarantee certain levels of food safety for consumers. However, these regulations vary from state to state, and some are more permissive than others. This leads to problems in the age of globalisation, as products produced in one country may end up being marketed in a very different country.

As a result of this, different international bodies have emerged with the same objective: to set standards with minimum requirements that food companies must meet to guarantee food safety throughout the production chain until it reaches the end consumer, regardless of the country.

Organismos y estándares de seguridad

Food businesses must comply with all national food safety standards. In addition, it is recommended that they follow one or more of the following international standards.

These international standards are mostly based on the Codex Alimentarius, a collection of internationally recognised standards, codes of practice, guidelines and other recommendations related to food safety.
practice, guidelines and other internationally recognised recommendations related to food, food production and food safety.

In addition, these standards seek the approval and recommendation of the GFSI (Global Safety Food Initiative), a non-profit organisation in which large chains such as Carrefour, Tesco, Metro or Wal-Mart are present.

Some of the security bodies and standards are:

Implementation of food safety standards

The first step in adopting an international food safety system is to check for compliance with the prerequisites, the basic conditions that companies committed to food safety should have in the production process and which will become the basis for the implementation of the standard.

What are these prerequisites?

- Compliance with national and international regulations.
- Support from all members of the company, especially top management.
- A cleaning and disinfection plan that guarantees the safety of the areas where the product is handled as well as the product is handled, as well as the machinery and personnel who handle it.
- A pest control plan to avoid the presence of animals and insects that could contaminate the product.
- Maintenance plan for installations and equipment to avoid contamination or malfunctioning.
- A minimum power supply must be guaranteed to ensure food safety. The water used must be potable and air quality parameters in contact with the food must also be defined.
- Good food handling practices to prevent food contamination.
- Information necessary to ensure product traceability from raw material to final product.
- Training plan for workers in critical aspects of food safety.
- Suppliers must be controlled and monitored.

HACCP / HACCP development plan

The objective of the HACCP plan, also known as Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP), is to document the actual hazards that may occur in the production chain in order to establish measures and actions.

What are the next steps?

1. Gather information and identify the real hazards.
2. Form a multidisciplinary safety team.
3. Analyse the product in depth: properties, raw materials, handling and treatment, packaging, labelling, quality control, storage and transport.
4. Draw up a flow chart with the stages and tasks that are carried out during the product elaboration process.
5. Verify the flow chart.
6. Assess the hazards, both actual and potential: physical, biological or chemical. They shall be classified according to the severity of the potential hazard.
7. Determine a plan according to each hazard and Critical Control Points.
8. Establishment of critical limits for the Critical Control Points to define a boundary between acceptable and unacceptable.
9. Monitoring system for each Critical Control Point.
10. Description of corrective actions when a Critical Control Point is outside the established limit.
11. Verification that the security system is operating as described.
12. Establishment of a documentation and record keeping system.

Finally, companies wishing to adopt any of these international standards must pass an audit carried out by accredited bodies

The future of alimentation

Although these food safety standards may seem difficult to achieve, they are seen as an investment in the future for companies in the sector and lead to greater consumer confidence.

Varpe's checkweighing and x-ray inspection equipment enables better quality control management and can help to achieve these standards thanks to innovative weighing technologies and x-ray inspection algorithms.

How does weight control contribute?

All the food safety standards mentioned above dedicate a section to the control of the quantity and net content of the product, as well as to the inspection and analysis of product sampling. For this reason, it is necessary to incorporate equipment into the lines that allows exhaustive control of the weight of the food being manufactured.

Automatic weighing instruments (AWI), also known as dynamic checkweighers, are equipment that use one or more conveyor belts to weigh the products that circulate through them.

They are part of a quality control system and serve to ensure that all products leaving the production line are of the correct weight and meet the packaging requirements. This avoids problems for the manufacturer in the event of fines for selling underweight products or cost overruns resulting from selling a product with more than the established quantity.

In this sense, checkweighers become an indispensable instrument to comply with standards, as they contribute to correct product counting, batch tracking, control of correct and rejected weights, as well as control of total weights.

What other advantages does the addition of a checkweigher offer?

-Greater product uniformity as 100% of the products are weighed automatically.
-Traceability of all packages as 100% of the production is weighed.

-Higher yield of raw materials thanks to tighter production tolerances and Varpe's feedback solution, which avoids overfilling of product thanks to correct product dosing and filling control.
-Increased OEE (overall equipment effectiveness), as checkweighers allow real-time production monitoring and a quick solution in case of any eventuality.
-Perfect control of net content. The regulations on this point are not the same for all countries; however, checkweighers make it possible to minimise the risk of non-compliance with these regulations by effectively controlling the weight of the products.

All these advantages will allow better quality control management and good compliance with national and international standards and regulations.

What does X-ray inspection add?

Food safety standards also refer for the most part to foreign body detection and removal and to critical control point monitoring systems. X-ray inspection system is recommended for effective control of these contaminants.

X-ray inspection systems are equipment that can detect any type of contaminant found in an industrial product, whether it is packaged or in bulk. These systems include complex algorithms that provide the production line with a high detection capacity and are of great help in quality control.

X-ray inspection equipment can be installed at different stages of a production line, either at the beginning with the bulk product, or during processing or final packaging, looking for contaminants such as metal, glass, mineral stone, calcified bone and plastic.

The technology used in Varpe's X-ray inspection systems covers most of the food industry's needs for reliable detection of contaminants with specific morphological and density characteristics.

What are the advantages of integrating this system?

- Minimising contamination by foreign bodies.
- Traceability of all packaging as 100% of the production is inspected.
- Ensuring consumer protection and, consequently, safeguarding the reputation of the brand.
- Reduce claims, fines or complaints resulting from product contamination.
- Increase OEE thanks to the quality control within the production chain that this equipment allows.

In addition to the detection of contaminants, X-rays allow other types of inspections, such as checking for correct labelling thanks to vision technology or detecting breakages or malformations in products and packaging.

Industry 4.0 y traceability with VIT4

When implementing these food safety standards, it is ideal to have equipment that integrates intuitive, easy-to-use software and data connectivity that allows full integration into the plant.
into the plant. This will allow greater control over production in real time and also achieve better traceability of the product and its quality.

Varpe has developed the VIT4 software, designed to store and manage the data generated by Varpe checkweighing and X-ray inspection equipment during production.

What can VIT4 do?

- Varpe equipment monitoring: you can select the Varpe equipment connected during the production process and manage the data for storage and analysis.
- Real-time data: real-time information on machine status and current production. Graphs are available for quick visualisation.
- Consolidated production data: stores the data that Varpe machines have generated and displays them in an orderly fashion, allowing subsequent analysis through the creation of reports.
- Preventive maintenance: VIT4 triggers warnings of future maintenance tasks for better production forecasting.

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