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Explaining Food Processing Regulations

People Wearing Masks and Hairnets Assessing Vegetables in Factory
People Wearing Masks and Hairnets Assessing Vegetables in Factory

As processors strive to provide safe, high-quality products to their customers, ensuring compliance with industry regulations is of paramount importance. 

Read on to learn more about food processing regulations and standards.

The Importance of Complying With Food Processing Regulations

Food processing regulations are intended to protect consumers from foodborne illnesses and risks by promoting the safe production and delivery of consumable products. Under regulations, food processors are required to adhere to strict standards when it comes to:

  • Sourcing raw materials
  • Manufacturing processes
  • Packaging
  • Storage
  • Distribution

What Are Different Food Processing Regulations and Standards?

To combat metal contamination, food manufacturers are required to confirm their magnets meet the following industry regulations and standards:

FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA)

This FSMA Act puts a spotlight on preventative measures to reduce food contamination risks by requiring facilities to develop critical control points (CCP) for metal inclusion and create a strategy to combat contamination that complies with the requirements of the applicable food safety laws and regulations. Under this act, manufacturers are also required to establish a corrective action to a product involved in a critical limit deviation.

Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI)

GFSI is a private organization that sets the universal gold-standard for food safety audits. They approve auditing platforms that meet their criteria, ensuring that food facilities are producing safe food for consumers. By obtaining GFSI certification, food processors and manufacturers can demonstrate to customers and potential customers that they have a structured, comprehensive, and effective food safety program in place. 

Safe Quality Foods Program (SQF)

Endorsed by retailers, brand owners, and food service providers worldwide, the SQF Program is designed to meet industry, customer, and regulatory requirements at every step of the food supply chain. Whether it’s checking ingredients, handling practices, or storage procedures, SQF guarantees that your products are thoroughly inspected and meet all necessary standards.

Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP)

HACCP is a federal and international program focused on ensuring food safety from harvest to consumption.

With the goal of protecting consumers from food contamination, the FDA lists five critical stages that they recommend including in the development of HACCP plans:

  1. Conduct a Hazard Analysis: The HACCP-Certified inspection teams assess factors in the food production chain that may cause injury or illness if not controlled.
  2. Determine Critical Control Points (CCPs): After all potential hazards are assessed, manufacturers are required to identify CCPs based on their facility’s layout, equipment, ingredients, and processing systems. 
  3. Establish Critical Limits: Once the HACCP identifies hazards and effective control points to combat them, manufacturers need to establish critical limits in their operations, such as temperature, time, physical dimensions, humidity, and moisture level. Generally speaking, each CCP has one or more control measures that make sure any hazards are properly identified and resolved.
  4. Establish Monitoring Procedures: Next, manufacturers are required to establish monitoring procedures. Essentially, this is a planned sequence of observations or measurements that assess whether a CCP is under control. 
  5. Establish Corrective Actions: The last HACCP principle revolves around corrective actions. Where there’s a deviation from established critical limits, manufacturers need to determine and correct the cause of noncompliance and disposition of the noncompliant products, as well as record the corrective actions that need to be taken.

Plant risk assessments are a great step toward reducing foreign metal contamination in the food processing industry.

How to Comply With Food Processing Regulations

Complying with food processing regulations seems like a daunting task, but with magnet validation reporting, your business can achieve compliance of foreign metal fragment controls with a lot more ease. By understanding the status of your magnets, you’ll be able to highlight areas of improvement, which makes it far easier to maximize your metal fragment controls and reduce risks.

What’s Involved in Magnet Testing?

During annual validation assessments, a trained technician visits your facility to conduct the initial magnet inspection and collects essential data on your equipment’s efficiency and condition. The technician also considers the location and contamination levels when conducting a risk analysis and works with your production schedule to minimize disruption.

They’ll assess your compliance with the HACCP International Food Safety Standard 0909 MAGSEP 1-2010, using calibrated gauss meters to accurately identify the current strength of your magnet, among numerous other important factors which can impact the effectiveness of your magnetic separation equipment. Following your audit, the data will be reviewed by metal fragment control experts and consultants, who compiled and presented to you in a HACCP-Certified Magnet Validation Report.

How Do Magnet Validation Reports Benefit My Business?

It’s crucial to note that Magnet Validation Reports contain more than just a simple strength reading. These assessments encompass detailed information on the status and condition of your magnetic separators, including:

  • Inspection reports on each individual magnet
  • Expert advice on identifying and controlling your hazards and reducing risks of metal contamination occurrences
  • And, where required, generic recommendations for new and upgraded magnetic separation systems that comply with current food industry and dairy standards

Having a holistic overview of your magnet testing provides two key advantages. First, they ensure your magnetic separators:

  • Are designed to current industry standards
  • Are of specified strength related to the specific location and duty of the magnet
  • Are installed correctly and in appropriate locations to minimize risk
  • Provide maximum product stream coverage
  • Have adequate retention of metal fragments collected
  • Provide safe operation and easy but effective cleaning ability for operators
  • Are in good physical shape and do not pose a contamination risk + more!

Secondly, they help food production plants:

  • Reduce risks of metal contamination in the final product
  • Protect sensitive processing equipment
  • Provide control of potential metal introduction from incoming raw materials (supplier accountability)
  • Reduce the risk of consumer complaints, brand name damage, food recall, and financial loss
  • Prepare your operation for upcoming plant audits and inspections
  • Comply with stringent quality assurance and industry standards

The Value of Professional Magnet Testing

Similar to your metal detectors and x-ray equipment, magnets play a critical role in food safety and contamination control in food processing. But to maintain maximum separation, magnets not only need to be the right strength but also must be positioned correctly to accommodate the flow of your product, have adequate product stream coverage and retention, be able to be properly cleaned, and more.

That’s why you need regular magnet inspections and validation testing. Magnet validations help ensure your magnets are in the right location, properly configured, and retain foreign metal contamination.

At Magnattack®, we’ve partnered globally across all our locations with Active Magnetics Research (AMR Consulting) to identify and reduce the risk of metal fragment contamination in food processing facilities. AMR is regarded as an industry leader in coordinating magnet validations and has extensive experience in metal fragment control system design, testing, and analysis. Contact us today to schedule your next magnet validation! 

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