Hot Topics Reinforce Need for Quality Sanitation

The food processing industry is constantly changing as technology advances, regulations increase and consumer demands evolve. As 2017 ends, Packers Sanitation Services, Inc. (PSSI) sanitation experts share trends and hot topics that may affect your sanitation program in the coming year.

Greater Attention to Foreign Materials

Recent recalls due to foreign materials contamination have made this a top priority, and the issue is likely to remain a key focus into 2018 and beyond.

“Preventing foreign material contamination depends on training employees and taking corrective actions when needed,” says Todd Mitchell, PSSI vice president of technical services.

Worker sanitizing machinery

Mitchell says dry pick-up during the sanitation shift will become even more important, to separate foreign materials from waste. Supervisors should monitor equipment and make sure no bolts and belts are missing from the equipment that could enter the food supply. PSSI logs every piece of cleaning equipment to ensure nothing is left behind after sanitation shifts.

You can also expect to see enhanced technologies that help eliminate foreign material contamination make an appearance in 2018.

“Our partners at Packers Chemical use metal tags on all their chemicals so they can be picked up by metal detectors in the line and not ground up like plastic or paper tags,” Mitchell says.

Mitchell recommends looking to implement more metal detectable items beyond chemical tags. For example, using metal snaps and closures for uniforms ensures detection before foreign materials reach the final product.

Advances in Rapid Micro-testing

Rapid microbial testing kits are growing in popularity in the food processing industry, providing a faster, mostly reliable indication of possible contamination in production environments. But it’s important to understand how to use these tests in conjunction with an effective sanitation program.

“Think of these kits as tools to uncover red flags,” offers Steve Weiland, Corporate Microbiologist for PSSI. “By screening for different groups of bacteria, these tests indicate that something in the plant could be unsanitary. We can use these results to step up sanitation in those areas. More thorough follow-up lab tests are needed to verify results and provide the most accurate conclusions.”

PSSI technical experts work with plant managers who have questions about using micro-tests and interpreting results. PSSI’s team will provide any investigative support necessary to go into a deeper cleaning mode.

More Intense Documentation

PSSI documents all sanitation procedures, including the chemicals we use for cleaning, and maintains those records on behalf of our customers."—Todd Mitchell, PSSI vice president of technical services.

New FSMA requirements are already requiring many companies to comply with stricter food safety guidelines and more aggressive audits. In 2018, complete and accurate documentation of sanitation procedures will become even more critical for companies facing government and third-party audits. Look for more companies to switch to electronic documentation to make it easier to update procedures and retrieve records when auditors come calling.

“PSSI documents all sanitation procedures, including the chemicals we use for cleaning, and maintains those records on behalf of our customers,” says Mitchell. “We draw from our experiences working with the emerging third-party auditing companies to help customers build and document sanitation regimens for a successful audit.”

Want to start 2018 on the right foot? Get in touch with the sanitation experts at PSSI to help you meet sanitation and food safety goals. Visit to learn more.