How do you minimise risks in food and beverage processing?

The global population is ever increasing, with the UN estimating that the population will reach 8.6 billion in 2030*. This increase in population is driving a rapidly increasing need for expansion in food production and processing. Despite the ever-increasing demand, food safety and process efficiency remain top priorities for food and beverage producers, who are continually squeezed to both reduce cost and boost output.

Below we’ve outlined some of the major risks concerning food and beverage producers:

Produce safety

Produce safety is the number one priority for food and beverage producers, who must ensure that the produce they release is safe for general consumption. Any potential outbreaks or product recalls can have a catastrophic effect not only on the producers responsible for the outbreak but also across the whole industry. With consumer confidence now low, sales of produce linked to an outbreak are known to drop rapidly. In addition to falling sales, producers who are found to be responsible for a food outbreak are likely to face severe fines from regulatory bodies.

However, whilst the business risks are severe, above all else, no producer wants to be responsible for an outbreak which can lead to illness or in extreme cases, death.

A wide range of techniques including disinfection and UV is used to help clean the produce and reduce the risk of contamination. To ensure this process is effective, supermarkets and trade buyers will demand a series of strict processes and testing, which is audited regularly. Kemio from Palintest is used in situ for disinfection verification at critical control points, with all results automatically logged into the instrument for full traceability. With the Kemio data log downloadable to a PC, the data log can be submitted directly for the audit, helping to save time and remove any potential admin errors in paper recording.

Product traceability

It is a growing trend for consumers to demand more information about where their produce comes from. Therefore, it is becoming ever more important for producers to understand the source and journey of each product that runs through their facility. With their customers and trade buyers demanding more information about their produce.

The Kemio system helps to maintain product integrity by providing a fully auditable set of results, with the ability to add batch, location and operator information; enabling producers to trace the full process.

Water usage and cost

Water is a key component for any food and beverage processor, with water used throughout the process to wash produce. However, despite the demand for water, excessive water usage will be a concern for cost efficiencies, particularly if there is the potential for savings.

Water is also closely monitored as more businesses consider the risk associated with water scarcity.  Recognising the growing risks for water availability, large food and beverage companies have now integrated water scarcity as a business risk into their core strategy. This centralised approach to considering the impact of water scarcity is something which is expected to filter across the wider industry in the coming years.

Through effective disinfection verification, water can be utilised only where required. The Kemio sensor method forms an important part of ensuring the most efficient and effective use of water resources during sanitation and disinfection, helping food and beverage producers streamline their costs and limit usage to what is necessary for effective food safety.

Chemical usage and cost

Chemicals are critical for sanitation and disinfection of produce which ensures that food and beverage products are safe for consumption. For that very reason producers will very often be overdosing their systems to ensure that the produce has been thoroughly cleaned. However the overdosing of chemicals can not only have an impact on the quality of finished produce, but the additional chemical usage in unnecessary, making the process both inefficient and expensive.

With the risks associated with underdosing, also highly problematic, the only true way to optimise your chemical usage is through disinfection verification testing. The growth in online systems means that many producers do not see the need to consider the concentration of chemical being dosed, however the growth of online systems has not been supported by the techniques used for validating and calibrating those very same systems. Effective monitoring of sanitizer concentration will help to give an accurate picture of the levels of sanitizer being used, helping to generate efficiencies and protect the quality of the produce.

Kemio Disinfection provides external validation of the dosing systems, ensuring that food and beverage processors have an accurate view of their sanitizer concentration to adjust their usage accordingly.

The importance of reputation

Reputational value is significant for any business and the true cost of a damaged reputation is hard to calculate. For food and beverage processors, the margins for error can be small, whilst the potential risks are very large. Producers found to be responsible for outbreaks are not only liable to fines but also face a severe sales drop due to lack of consumer confidence in the brand. Many businesses in this position have found themselves unable to recover, therefore full process control must be implemented to ensure food safety.

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