Food safety in the snack and bakery industries can come in many forms, including audits, compliance, sanitation standard operating procedures (SSOPs), hazard analysis and critical control points (HACCP), and good manufacturing practices (GMPs).
“A good food safety strategy for bakery facilities addresses the general cleanliness of the facility and spells out standard operating procedures (SOPs), in the form of a written HACCP plan,” says Geoff Ellis, COO, Wherefour, Petaluma, CA.
The entire production team should be well versed in preparing equipment before production and the proper cleaning of it after production, he says.
“For inventory or warehouse staff, maintaining COAs for ingredient suppliers and photos of delivery vehicles in one place helps keep the facility ready for any contingencies during production. Ensuring that ingredients received are thoroughly inspected and accounted for are also important steps in a solid food safety strategy,” Ellis mentions.
Recall and inspection readiness should also be a factor for any facility, he notes.
“Knowing how to find potentially contaminated ingredients quickly and what product(s) they may have been used in will better protect the organization from the risks of supply contamination or production mix-ups.”
— Jon Gilchrist, applications engineering manager, KPM Analytics
Jon Gilchrist, applications engineering manager, KPM Analytics, Westborough, MA, says that food safety plans will vary between bakeries and typically are tuned to their specific products, customers, and regional requirements.
“Despite these differences, every food safety plan is intended to identify and reduce food safety hazards throughout the production process. A key element of this plan should include the implementation of monitoring checks at critical control points along the process,” he says.
Most bakeries have adopted equipment such as metal detectors and x-ray, but bakers are increasingly turning to vision inspection systems to help fill this need, Gilchrist elaborates.
“Vision inspection systems make use of a range of 2D and 3D camera systems to monitor the performance of key processes—such as forming and baking—and to detect the presence of foreign contaminants. Increasingly high-resolution offerings allow detection of smaller foreign contaminants and defects, while new technologies operating in the non-visible spectrum are expanding the range of detectable contaminant types,” he adds.
“One such example is the MultiEye system from KPM Analytics, which uses a combination of Visible and Hyperspectral Imaging to detect a range of contaminants. Some examples of these contaminants include thin plastic films and sheets that otherwise may not be detectable using only metal detectors and x-ray systems,” Gilchrist says.
“Baking industry-focused suppliers of vision inspection systems are producing equipment that meets the high hygienic design standards of food manufacturers, and as an added benefit these systems are often fulfilling a key quality monitoring role that can lead to more efficient processes, waste reduction, and improved customer satisfaction.”
Eric Garr, regional sales manager, Fortress Technology, Toronto, says that, typically, snack manufacturers and bakery facilities will have more than one metal detector between the beginning and end of the production and packing process, corresponding to identified Critical Control Points (CCPs).
“The key is to identify the predominant risk points and install the most appropriate inspection equipment at specific checkpoints most relative to these risks,” he advises.
For loose and raw products, such as potato chips, cereal, corn, popcorn, and snacks, this will often be before the bagging stage, using a Gravity/Vertex metal detector, and then later down the line when bags are sealed, just before packing into boxes for distribution, Garr adds.
The reason for this is leaving it until the end of the production line could result in high levels of false rejects and unnecessary disposal of good product and packaging, he continues.
“Another way to avoid contaminating product is to check incoming ingredients before they reach the processing stage. Here, bulk gravity and large bag inspection systems are usually installed to quality check incoming dry and wet ingredients. This can be advisable in bakery processing facilities for a number of scenarios,” Garr shares.
“Firstly, producers will want to identify the source of any metal contamination, which can include raw ingredients, e.g. flour. Secondly, the sensitivity achieved at this stage may be higher than with finished or packaged product. This may come down to the aperture of the metal detector or the relative sensitivity obtained with unprocessed and processed ingredients. It also helps to mitigate damage to processing equipment, e.g. grinders,” he notes.
Performing supplier weight checks at this early phase of processing is also advisable, especially given the current cost of raw ingredients, Garr continues. Machines like the Raptor XL can be utilized to verify the weight of incoming ingredients in sacks, boxes, kegs and drums, and efficiently manage return rates, he says.
“On VFFS snack filling lines, a Vertex inline system, with its slim case-through dimensions, slots easily between pouch packing systems and weighing turnkey lines. However, the close positioning of machinery can make testing the performance of metal detectors here difficult and time consuming. Halo Automatic Testing (see Q2), unique to Fortress, swiftly overcomes testing production bottlenecks by performing real time GFSI and QC tests automatically, helping to eliminate operator errors and health and safety risks. Production doesn’t stop while each test is in progress. The line will only halt if the metal detector or reject checks fail. Validated test results are automatically logged and digitally saved for a GFSI audit,” Garr says.
Next on the line, bakery and snack processors should perform product verification weight checks. Not only does this ensure product quality and compliance with weight legislation—rejecting out of tolerance packs—but these weight checks can also reduce product waste and giveaway, he predicts.
“Lastly, at the end of the processing line, packaged products are inspected after packaging and before leaving the facility to ensure food safety, protect consumers, and safeguard brands. These inspections are typically performed on single or multi-line conveyor metal detectors, ensuring compliance with legislation, retailer codes of practice, and food safety standards.” SF&WB
- Automatic lot coding, serialization of inventory
- Material requirement planning module
- Vendor, production lead times
- Upcoming expiration dates for on-hand inventory
- Predicting future inventory needs
- Fully nested bill of materials for products, automatically scaled up to minimum batch quantity and amount of product needed
Logistics Snapshot: “We realized during the pandemic that more bakeries were going to need to sell directly to consumers, so we have new integrations with platforms like Shopify and ShipStation that make it easier for bakeries to automate their ecommerce activities,” says Ellis. “In concert with our self-service ordering portal, our customers can sell to both wholesale and retail customers and automate a lot of the tedious ordering and fulfillment processes.”
Company: KPM Analytics
- Artificial intelligence features such as automatic learning
- Detection and processing algorithms
- Machine learning tools
- Vision inspection systems
Logistics Snapshot: “We are seeing an increased focus on the transition toward Industry 4.0 within the snack and baking sector,” says Gilchrist. “Data plays a crucial role in this next step for the industry, and the need for data collection and integration with large data systems is a driving factor in our product development. New process specific monitoring solutions are being installed throughout the production process, serving as both data collection systems and feedback control points to react to issues quickly and reduce waste. Furthermore, many systems on the line are being integrated into large data systems to provide bakers with the complete information on their line performance.”
“Another exciting area of development has been in adopting Artificial Intelligence (AI) features into the inspection platforms. AI and machine learning tools currently under development, such as automatic learning, serve to simplify the user experience and help customers better configure systems to meet their needs,” he says.
“In addition, new AI based detection and processing algorithms are boosting inspection performance and allowing the detection of more defect types than ever before. The combination of traditional inspection techniques supplemented with new AI tools unlocks even greater potential for vision inspection systems and promises exciting developments within the industry.”
Company: Fortress Technology
- Halo Automatic Testing: eliminates human error, eradicates workforce H&S risks
- Pre-programs ferrous, non-ferrous, stainless steel sample tests
- Activates remotely or select from HMI
- Contact 4.0: captures production data across suite of networked inspection machines
- Remotely monitors equipment performance, tracks events, documents potential product risks
- Can export reports in format most closely aligned to customers’ common reporting standards
- Enhances traceability, addresses time-critical events, minimizes machine downtime
- Production, QA, maintenance managers can troubleshoot issue remotely from networked PC or tablet web browser
- Can be connected to all Fortress digital Stealth, Interceptor, and Interceptor DF metal detectors, as well as Raptor Checkweigher, Raptor XL Caseweigher, and Raptor Combination unit
Logistics Snapshot: “To successfully comply with production standards, bakery and snack manufacturers need an appropriate and effective testing system established for the audit process of industrial metal detectors,” says Garr. “Depending on the criteria set out by each retailer Code of Practice (COP), tests are typically scheduled throughout the day at hourly intervals to confirm the inspection system is repeatedly identifying all potential metal contaminants. However, if carried out manually, passing test samples through the exact center of a standard 165mm or 215mm aperture, when product is being funneled at high speed from a multi-head weigher through the metal detector straight into a VFFS bagger, and retrieving them is huge challenge and drain on labor.”
Halo Automatic Testing automates this process, eliminating human error and eradicating workforce H&S risks—such as climbing up above the hopper multi-head weigher and passing a metal test stick/ball manually through the in-line metal detector and retrieving before packing, adds Garr.
“Originally engineered in collaboration with one of the largest U.S. snack manufacturers to overcome the major limitations of performing manual checks on vertical inspection lines, Halo Automatic Testing enables factory operatives to pre-program ferrous, non-ferrous, and stainless steel sample tests,” he notes.
The company also will launch Contact 4.0 at PACK EXPO this year. For the first time, Fortress customers will be able to tether multiple front-end inspection machines to back-end reporting systems and securely share performance data.
Dust control and food safety
By: Frank Cea, vice president, food & beverage, RoboVent
Dust collection and air filtration can be an overlooked factor in food safety concerns for bakeries and snack food makers.
“When air filtration systems can’t keep up with excess food dust, dust can migrate to places in the facility where it doesn’t belong,” explains RoboVent President Rick Kreczmer. “This can increase the risk of cross-contamination between production lines and microbial growth in dust deposits.”
To minimize these risks and ensure compliance with food safety regulations, here is a checklist to ensure your dust collection systems are up-to-date and well maintained:
- Collect dust close to the source to prevent propagation of dust through the facility. Hoods or enclosures around dust-producing processes aids in efficient capture.
- Make sure there is adequate airflow for efficient capture of dust inside enclosures and conveyor systems. Dust building up inside enclosures is a combustion risk in addition to a food safety concern.
- Positive and negative pressure zones can be used to isolate sequential production processes and prevent dust from migrating between zones.
- Locating the dust collector outdoors and venting filtered air to the outside minimizes the risk of re-contamination.
- Use appropriate filtration (e.g., HEPA) for air coming into the building via makeup air and HVAC systems to avoid introducing pollens, molds, or bacterial contaminants from the outside.
- Select a filter appropriate for the dust you are collecting. Hygroscopic food dusts may require a PTFE-coated or washable filter media.
- Make sure the dust collector is equipped with a sensor to detect leaks past the filter and appropriate fire and deflagration safety elements for NFPA compliance.
- Perform all recommended preventive maintenance and inspect the system frequently. If you notice dust building up on surfaces in the facility or inside enclosures, contact your engineering firm to evaluate your air filtration systems.