The regulations outlined in FSMA prompt businesses to prevent biological, chemical and physical hazards from affecting the quality of their grain. For example, ensuring a facility’s roof isn’t leaking prevents the grain from going out of condition while keeping asbestos from entering the food supply.
“[Grain] facilities are hard to keep clean, but having good management practices in place allows the site to take a holistic approach in making sure quality is maintained,” says Angela Shaw, Iowa State University.
While you develop your Food Safety Plan, here are a few points to keep in mind to serve a dual purpose by preserving grain quality:
Smaller operations that maintain their traceability records on paper are advised to move toward computer tracking to improve accuracy and the site’s ability to manage the data. Charles Hurburgh, Iowa State University, suggests sites diligently keep records of grain movement — at the load-out station and within the facility — so should a product be recalled, management will know where to look or, more importantly, where it doesn’t have to look and to know more precisely the inventory it has on hand.
“All this is inventory management, which can be worth a lot of money with high grain prices,” he says.
To aid in data collection, a new age of equipment has been developed to marry toxin testing and grain traceability by helping to ensure the viability and quality of each load accepted into a facility while creating a paper trail for record-keeping purposes. Neogen’s Q+ Lateral Flow Test, for example, uses an AccuScan reader to generate document trails and creates a digital record of all mycotoxins at a location.
“This is just another tool in addressing FSMA requirements,” says Pat Frasco, director of sales, Neogen. “The demand for these products has come from companies looking ahead to anticipate what FSMA will require in terms of having control points and record systems. The global food safety initiative and other safety audits are also driving demand.”
He notes that this feature aids companies in conforming to upcoming food and feed safety standards, i.e. becoming an approved supplier for international food companies.
“This is a growing reality in today’s marketplace,” Frasco says. “Large organizations are demanding suppliers do more due diligence on checking product, ingredient and raw material streams, and it will be a prerequisite to even do business with them.”
2) FACILITY MAINTENANCE
Regardless of an inspector’s experience or familiarity with agriculture, no one needs training to spot a mess. Oil trails by the dump pit, overgrown weeds, vermin and rotting grain all point to fundamental maintenance issues.
“The physical sanitation of appearance is going to be extremely important; I can’t say enough about how that will temper future responses on the part of the regulatory people,” Hurburgh says.
Develop a policy on the condition of the inside and outside of the building to set a standard of cleanliness to hold employees accountable for maintaining it.
3) PEST MANAGEMENT
Bob Braun, account manager, Dow AgroSciences, suggests facilities keep a detailed plan of all aspects of controlling any insect or rodent infestation in the building, elevator or mill.
“Grounds maintenance is a key factor — making sure you have a hardscaped buffer zone between the building and the grassy area to keep the critters away,” he says. Braun also feels it is wise to bring in an independent auditing company to do a third-party audit to ensure your facility is compliant.
According to Braun, the No. 1 fumigation question he receives is whether or not the material can be left in a fumigated space. He advises sites minimize the quantity of grain or feed in a facility prior to fumigation — running production and loading trucks ahead of schedule — so there is time to clear debris. If the facility is clear during the disinfestation, the fumigant has a better chance of getting rid of the pests.