Food and beverage manufacturers don’t just feed the world — they play a major role in public health. Failure to maintain sanitary conditions during production, packing, and distribution can result in bacterial, chemical, and other forms of contamination. In addition to endangering lives, food safety and sanitation breaches can trigger product recalls.
A recall costs manufacturers more than the time and expense of pulling products off the shelf. Research shows brands suffer long term from a loss of consumer confidence that can deter even loyal customers. Food and beverage manufacturers need to do everything they can to prevent a recall from happening. The key is strengthening and reinforcing food safety and sanitation programs.
Why Safety and Sanitation Recalls Happen
Well-designed food sanitation procedures are critical to protecting consumers from contaminants, but they’re only as effective as worker adherence. Unhygienic workstations and equipment can turn food products into breeding grounds for bacteria. Improper cleaning can also lead to cross-contamination and allergen cross-contact. Nonconformance with sanitation standards throughout facilities can also attract pests that further put food safety at risk.
Between the labor shortage and the already fast-paced nature of the industry, workers are busier than ever. There’s never been greater temptation to cut corners and make “one-time exceptions” to following food safety and sanitation protocols. Unfortunately, it only takes one mistake to put tens of thousands of consumers in danger.
How to Avoid Recalls
Protecting consumers and preventing recalls requires collaboration between management and workers, diligent adherence to procedures, and an ongoing dedication to training and improvement. Here are four tips to bolster food safety and sanitation programs:
1. Ensure technically competent people are designing procedures
Building protocols that uphold workplace sanitation requires years of experience in the industry, thorough regulatory knowledge, a detail-oriented mindset, and a dedication to upholding rigorous standards. Don’t entrust strategy to anyone who doesn’t exhibit all these characteristics, or your organization could risk exposure. If necessary, leverage trusted third-party experts for help designing and implementing procedures.
2. Create a culture of accountability
Maintaining clean and sanitary conditions is ultimately a team effort, so it’s important for company leaders to cultivate a culture of compliance. After all, accountability starts at the top. Company leaders should participate in every training to inspire confidence and dedication and be prepared to exhibit their own knowledge of safety and sanitation procedures. When even company heads put in the work of keeping the public safe, it’s easier for every employee to buy into its importance and hold themselves to higher standards.
3. Improve knowledge transfer between employees
Many employees at food and beverage companies are reaching retirement age, and the next generation is taking the reins. Food safety and sanitation procedures can have a long learning curve, so it’s important for new employees to get guidance from seasoned co-workers, leaders, and other authorities. Encourage knowledge transfer between longtime and new employees by offering job shadowing and mentoring programs. Managers should also leverage experienced workers for their institutional knowledge, from the unique challenges of keeping the facility clean to the nooks and crannies in machinery where bacteria could hide.
4. Invest in more frequent training
Between high turnover rates, a rapidly evolving regulatory environment, and growing risks for cross-contamination, it can be difficult for employees to keep up with the latest sanitation standards. Expert training programs from AIB International can keep leadership, longtime employees, and new hires alike abreast of all the latest developments in the industry, renew dedication to adherence, and ensure facilities are inspection-ready.
A food and beverage recall can cost companies years of revenue — and just one slip up can put the public in danger. Following these tips will help employees stay compliant, but third-party support by trusted experts can support existing programs as well. Learn more about AIB’s services for training employees, gaining certification, and preparing for inspections.