Following are some highlights of the new food safety guidelines issued by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The guidelines are strictly voluntary and do not necessarily apply to all businesses.
To read all of the guidelines, go to the FDA web site: www.fda.gov.
The FDA said: "This guidance is designed as an aid to operators of food establishments (i.e. firms that produce, process, store, repack, relabel, distribute, or transport food or food ingredients or that prepare or distribute food at retail). It identifies preventive measures that they can take to minimize the risk that food under their control will be subject to tampering or criminal or terrorist actions."
- Operators of food establishments are encouraged to review their current procedures and controls in light of the potential for tampering, criminal or terrorist actions, and make appropriate improvements.
- Assign responsibility for security to qualified individuals and encourage all staff to be alert to any signs of tampering with product or equipment, other unusual situations, or areas that may be vulnerable to tampering such as salad bars.
- Inspect incoming and outgoing vehicles for suspicious, inappropriate or unusual items or activity; restrict entry to the authorized people; ensure that there is a valid reason for the visit before providing access to facilities; apply the procedures to everyone.
- Provide secure areas for hazardous materials such as cleaning solvents, chemicals and gases.
- Screen employees by checking phone numbers, addresses and work references; conduct criminal background checks of all employees.
- Provide food security training to all employees, including information on how to prevent, detect and respond to tampering or to criminal or terrorist activity.
- Watch for unusual behavior by employees who stay unusually late or arrive unusually early; attempt to access files/information/areas of the facility outside their areas of responsibility; remove documents from the facility; ask questions on sensitive subjects; or bring cameras to work.
- Request that vehicles/containers/railcars be locked and sealed upon arrival and when leaving the premises. Obtain the seal number from the supplier and verify upon receipt. These arrangements maintain the chain of custody.
- Secure water wells, hydrants, storage and handling facilities to ensure safety, and test for potability regularly.
- Develop strategies and procedures with managers and key employees to handle emergency events.
Natural Foods Merchandiser volume XXIII/number 2/p. 5