While it’s critical that processing equipment and food production facilities are the focus of food safety guidelines, those guidelines must also address the personnel inside the plant. 

Training at all levels should ensure that personnel working in food processing, from the receiving and storing of raw ingredients to the packaging and shipping of finished products, follow the current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMPs) outlined in the facility’s food safety plan.

This blog from ImEPIK will look at the roles and responsibilities of employees to promote food safety practices and maintain food manufacturing standards, including personal cleanliness and following handwashing guidelines.

The Pandemic and Beyond: Health and Food Safety

The COVID-19 pandemic has turned a spotlight on worker safety, with companies setting up temperature check stations and configuring a plant’s workflow to allow for the proper distancing of employees. According to the Food and Drug Administration, there is no current evidence that food or food packaging is associated with transmitting COVID-19, but companies have taken measures to promote worker safety.

personnel hygienePandemic or not, however, it’s incumbent on plant management to take reasonable measures to ensure employees don’t contaminate food when they are ill. Therefore, any employee who has – or appears to have – an illness, open lesions, or any other issue that may contaminate food, food-contact surfaces, or food packaging, shall be excluded from operations until the condition is corrected.

Personnel should report all health conditions to supervisors.

Hygienic Practices to Promote Food Safety

Employees who work directly with food, food-contact surfaces, and packaging must protect against food contamination by following hygienic practices. This includes, but isn’t limited to:

  • Hand washing

    • Before starting work, after each absence from a workstation and any time when hands might have become dirty or contaminated, employees should wash hands thoroughly and sanitize if necessary.
  • Removing jewelry

    • All unsecured jewelry or other objects that might fall into food, equipment, or containers should be removed. If rings cannot be adequately sanitized, they should be removed or covered.
  • Maintaining gloves

    • If used in food handling, gloves must be intact, clean, and in a sanitary condition, and be made of an impermeable material.
  • Covering hair

    • Where appropriate, employees should wear hair nets, headbands, caps, and beard covers.
  • Other precautions

    • Employees should ensure that contaminants, including perspiration, tobacco, chemicals, cosmetics, and medicines applied to the skin, be kept from food, food-contact surfaces, and packaging.

Education and Training

Plant personnel must be given the tools to do their jobs, including training. For example, employees responsible for identifying sanitation failures or food contamination should have the experience or education necessary to produce safe, clean food.

Food handlers and their supervisors need training on proper hygiene, food handling techniques, and food protection principles. They should be educated on the danger of poor personal hygiene and unsanitary practices.

A food manufacturer must ensure that employees are aware of – and comply with – the practices and policies mentioned in this blog and that there are supervisors tasked with this training.

Food Safety Starts with Personnel

ImEPIK’s food safety training courses for U.S.- and Canada-based companies guide employees through the process of implementing Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) plans and Hazard Analysis and Risk-Based Preventive Controls (HARPC). ImEPIK’s training program is 100% online and is designed to train anyone serving in the Preventive Controls Qualified Individual (PCQI) role, as mandated by the Food Safety Modernization Act in the U.S. and the Safe Food for Canadians regulations in Canada.

A company’s PCQI plays a critical role in ensuring food safety standards are upheld by personnel throughout the company and establishing a culture of food safety throughout your organization.

Contact us today to begin your training. Team pricing is available if you have multiple staff members to train.