Food safety standards accepted in support of the Global Food Safety Initiative require that maintenance of equipment or building structures be completed so there is no risk to product, packaging or equipment contamination.
Food producers are responsible for documenting and maintaining procedures to perform routine, in process, and emergency repairs. They also must demonstrate equipment sanitation and product safety when maintenance is performed and at pre-operation inspections such as when food contact surfaces are in production and food may be present.
The risks of contaminating a food production line or introducing foreign matter into finished product during mid-shift repairs are reasonably likely to occur. When a line goes down, time is of essence to get back into production. Therefore, it is critical to have a time-optimized system that ensures communication between production, maintenance, and quality assurance personnel.
First, documentation of all plant and equipment failures and corrective actions are required during production. Normally, a food producer completes a down-time log for production and files a HACCP deviation if food safety is involved. To preserve food safety, all food processing should be placed on ‘hold’ if maintenance is preformed during processing. This is to be sure all foreign material is removed and food contact surfaces are thoroughly cleaned prior to resuming processing.
The following best-practice procedure is a good way to ensure that responsibilities are effectively transferred and that all records for production down-time, maintenance, and pre- operation inspection are efficiently maintained. It’s an efficient process to coordinate the response, activities, and hand-off of responsibilities between production, maintenance and quality assurance personnel:
13.5 Maintenance supervisor is required to verify that the work was complete and determine if there is a preventative measure that can be taken so future equipment failure will not happen.
13.6 Maintenance supervisor will sign and date the verified work order form to ensure its record is properly maintained.
This workflow or Process to Control Food Safety during Equipment or Facility Repair, ensures that processing lines are placed on hold by operations or QA if immediate corrective actions are needed during processing. The process effectively links all records involved with a line stoppage (i.e. Process Deviation Log, HACCP Deviation, Maintenance Work Order, Hold Tag Log and Hold Tag Release) while incorporating GFSI quality management system requirements.
This process has effectively created alignment at work between the interrelated services provided by production, maintenance and quality assurance, allowing each to maximize their goals toward achieving company production, quality, and food safety expectations.