Food processors and manufacturers must plan for changes in demand throughout the year, whether issues are caused by seasonal weather patterns, holiday-themed products, or other cyclical factors.

This blog from ImEPIK will look at two examples of seasonal factors and how they could impact food safety and discuss how to prepare for these demands.

Seasonal Holidays Effect on Food Safety & Production

Even as shoppers find Halloween candy on some clearance racks, candy manufacturers are long past the production and shipping cycle for the holiday demand. But, of course, there’s always another holiday just around the corner, whether it’s Christmas with its candy canes, fine chocolates for Valentine’s Day, or chocolate Easter bunnies.

As companies prepare for holiday demand, food safety continues to be important, and manufacturers must be vigilant in managing the new processes and ingredients involved in products made for once-a-year celebrations. 

If the company hires temporary workers to satisfy seasonal surges in demand, they must be properly trained to ensure they understand their role in maintaining food safety standards.

Holiday packaging must have the proper labeling, with special attention to ingredients to ensure potential allergens are highlighted as required by the Food and Drug Administration.

Besides shellfish and fish, the act mandates that ingredient labels include these items that are often found in candy and other treats:

  • Milk
  • Tree nuts
  • Eggs
  • Peanuts
  • Soybeans
  • Wheat

The Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004 mandates allergen food sources be declared on labels in parentheses following the name of the ingredient, such as flour (wheat), or immediately next to the list of ingredients in a statement that says, “Contains wheat, milk, and soy.”

Failing to do so can lead to product recalls, even if no consumers report adverse reactions or if there’s just the possibility the product contains an undeclared allergen. These recalls are common and are sometimes caused by failing to change packaging or labels when a different production run begins.

As of mid-October (2021), companies had issued almost 70 food recalls through the FDA’s website. That includes candy packaging that failed to note the presence of nuts and other allergens.

Food Safety Issues Don’t Take Vacations

Throughout the year, facility managers plan to cover all shifts and duties. But beyond the usual food safety programs, seasonal production means that additional attention should be paid to things like temperature control and sanitation. Managers must consider these and other food safety concerns when setting employee schedules.

Food Safety Questions to Consider:

  • Are there any inspections scheduled with regulators, such as the Food and Drug Administration or its designated third-party inspectors?
  • Does a crisis plan exist, and if the main contacts designated to act during a crisis are away on vacation, are there clear directions on delegation of duties? For example, if a foodborne illness outbreak occurs, do personnel covering shifts know their role — from production line workers to those who will work with regulators to those who will communicate with the media?
  • If the facility or company has a single Preventive Controls Qualified Individual and they are on vacation, is there a plan to contact them if necessary?
  • Have replacement personnel been appropriately trained in food safety for the role they are fulfilling?

ImEPIK: Year-Round On-Demand Training

ImEPIK’s training courses for the United States and Canada are designed to help companies guard against food safety issues throughout the year, no matter the season.

The online platform offers comprehensive training, with team pricing available to ensure vacation schedules don’t leave you without valuable food safety expertise during production.

Contact us via our webchat or call 1-(888) 907-4220 to learn more about PCQI Online and get started today!