Food Safety Programs

Food safety programs are practices, conditions and procedures needed prior to and during the implementation of a food safety system/HACCP plan. These programs are essential for food safety and provide a foundation for an effective system. They are often facility-side programs rather than process or product specific. A plant must provide documentation of the their food safety programs including the written program, records, and reports/results. Food Safety Programs prevent potential hazards from becoming serious enough to impact the safety of the food produced.

An Allergen program should include a list of allergens that could impact the supplier’s materials, equipment, processes and products including potential cross-contact allergens.

A list of materials and ingredients containing allergens should be in the plan. Methods should be outlined to include ways to prevent any unintentional allergen contamination.

Risk assessments for raw materials containing allergens should be conducted and documented.

Allergen management should be included in the Food Safety Plan(s). (HACCP plan)

Detail on how cleaning, sanitation and inspection of equipment are completed prior to changeover of allergen products should be included. Cleaning of equipment containing allergens is verified prior to product changeover.

The allergen cleaning process should be validated and verified. This should be documented.

Equipment segregation for allergen control is conducted and effectively manages the risk of cross- contact allergens. If this is not possible, then a procedure must be in place for a run matrix, cleaning procedures and verification of cleaning.

Specific procedures have been developed for the storage of allergen containing ingredients. The product identification system addresses materials, ingredients, work-in-progress and products containing allergens.

Products containing allergens are properly labeled to identify them as allergens, and meet regulatory requirements for allergen labeling.

Note: even if the only allergen in the facility is milk and it is in all products produced, the facility must have a program stating this.

Staff is aware of the risk of allergens and the allergen management procedures.

An approved supplier program is a set of procedures implemented by the facility to assure the safety and quality of incoming goods and services. It may be based on the safety risk presented by the raw material, or based on historical performance or prior history of the supplier.

The facility should be able to provide documented evidence that incoming materials have either been inspected or that they come from an approved supplier.

The methods for selecting, evaluating, approving and monitoring an approved supplier must be documented. This will be risk-based and may be as simple as a good supply history, sourcing from certified suppliers (e.g. 3rd party audit), or personally auditing/inspecting the material supplier’s operations, depending on risk, supplier knowledge and past history.

The facility should require their suppliers verify they are complying with specifications for the products supplied. The methods of analyses must conform to recognized industry standards.

The facility should maintain a list of approved suppliers, including contract service providers. All providers of goods and services must be included on the register.

The approved supplier program should be reviewed at least annually or more frequently, based on supplier performance.

In an emergency situation, a facility receives raw materials from a non-approved supplier. The ingredients should be inspected before use. Records of the use of a non-approved supplier and their inspection should be maintained.

The facility should have a calibration program that includes equipment that is used to test food safety and quality parameters (e.g., temperature, pH, product weight):

  •  Identify all the equipment that requires calibration (e.g., thermometers, scales, pH meters, etc.).
  • Ensure the equipment, once calibrated, is protected so that measurements remain accurate.
  • Ensure authorized personnel only operate the equipment and are using approved methods.
  • Determine how accurate the measurements need to be. Does the supplier need to comply with industry or national standards? If the calibration is designed to check measurements implemented to improve a process the supplier may determine the level of measurement required and apply calibration parameters to ensure consistent measurement.
  • Calibrate equipment regularly. The calibration frequency will vary depending upon the type of equipment and its usage. Calibration frequency must be adjusted in light of experience or manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Develop a procedure to address products produced between the time equipment “out-of–calibration” is discovered and the last calibration check with normal tolerances recorded.
  • Clearly identify who is responsible for undertaking calibration, recording the results of all calibrations and labeling equipment to indicate when it was last calibrated and when recalibration is due.

A calibration schedule that identifies what, how often, who and how a piece of equipment is calibrated is a good practice.

A written cleaning program should be in place and fully implemented that includes provisions for effective cleaning of equipment, facilities, utensils, amenities and external areas. The cleaning program should identify the what, how, when and who for every item of equipment and part of the facility. Responsibilities should be identified, including responsibility for the visual or test inspection, and the verification of cleaning methods.

For small items of equipment such as tools, knives, tubs, cutting boards, etc., a wash area should be provided with sufficient hot and cold running water, a suitable detergent and sanitizer for cleaning and when necessary, suitable racks for draining/drying equipment, utensils, and protective clothing.

The cleaning and sanitation program should include the following detail:

  •  List all the areas and equipment to be cleaned.
  • The frequency for cleaning, sanitizing different areas of the premises and all associated equipment including pre-operative cleaning and cleaning between breaks.
  • A full description of the cleaning and sanitation procedures for each piece of equipment or area of the operation.

All cleaning verification records should be maintained. The cleaning program should be reviewed annually or anytime changes are made.

MDS information should be maintained for all chemicals stored on site, along with an inventory of all chemicals. All chemical storage containers should be labeled and identified.

Hazardous chemicals should be stored separately, away from any product or dry storage areas. The storage of hazardous chemicals should follow all government regulations.

The facility should develop a written procedure showing how customer complaints are received, investigated and responded to. Also a procedure describing the methods used to investigate complaint trends.

Complaints may be locally received or received from a central site, call center, or corporate entity and shall include complaints from customers, consumers and/or regulatory authorities. All should be available for use in the complaint procedure.

A procedure should describe how the complaints are communicated to management. It should detail who is responsible for investigating customer complaints, initiating follow up actions and communicating back to the customer how the complaint has been resolved.

Corrective actions shall be documented. The procedure should include criteria for the determination of the validity of complaints.

Any trending or data management of complaints needs to be included in the procedure. The procedure can include criteria when trends show issues that require corrective action plan development and/or process adjustment.

Records of complaints must be retained and include corrective actions taken by the facility.

Foreign matter detectors can include metal detectors, x-ray, color sorters, screens, sieves and filters. They should be designed and installed to detect and/or trap foreign objects that have been identified in the facility.

Work instructions should be written on the monitoring of foreign material detection and prevention devices. SOPs should define the frequency of monitoring such devices, the criteria used in monitoring, and the corrective actions to take when foreign materials are discovered in the product or facility.

Some examples of frequency of monitoring may be hourly metal detector checks, screen checks once per shift, and filter checks once per shift or once per load.

Inspections are conducted to prevent foreign material contamination of product. Temporary repairs are not used within the processing areas or where food is handled or stored.

Glass inspections are conducted regularly for breakage, including instrument dial covers and thermometers. All lights in the facility should be shatterproof and protected. Wood used in processing / handling area should be well maintained and clean.

There are no loose materials on processing equipment. Knives and cutting instruments are in good repair, monitored, clean and sanitized.

Misc. materials should not be stored on equipment, electrical/utility boxes and raw product and finished product shelving. All tools and equipment parts should be stored in a proper container or toolbox, not a food product container.

The facility should have a procedure in place to identify, isolate, inspect and rework or dispose of product that is known to be at risk of foreign matter contamination. This should include isolation, labeling, quarantine of affected product, and depending on the nature of the suspected contaminant, further inspection or examination of the product to determine the source and extent of the contamination so that a decision can be taken on its disposition.

When glass or similar breakage occurs, the procedure should include a glass cleanup process that covers the footprint of the tramp glass. The procedure should include a shutdown of the whole area, and a thorough cleanup to eliminate all broken glass. Brooms, brushes, vacuums and footwear must be included in the cleanup. The area should be thoroughly inspected before recommencing operations.

A crisis management plan that describes actions that will be taken as a result of external, environmental, climatic, equipment failure or other potential business threats that will impact the ability of the facility to provide their customers with safe, quality products. These threats, depending upon the facilities product, location and other factors may include fire, flood, power failure, storm damage, acts of terrorism, etc.

The facility should identify a crisis management team including a senior decision maker and ensure the team is trained in crisis management procedures. The team should identify known threats to the business which could disrupt or impact its ability to produce and provide safe, quality food and prepare a plan describing the methods and controls the facility will implement to address these threats if they were to occur and how to maintain continuity of product supply during the crisis.

The plan should document in detail the controls the facility will implement to assure that food safety and quality are not compromised and that if the integrity of any product is compromised, how the product will be isolated and controlled. The plan should ensure that everyone on the crisis management team is familiar with the withdrawal and recall procedures the facility has documented.

The plan needs to include criteria for when controls will be implemented (ex. numbers of hours with no power, rise in product temperature prior to moving to alternative storage locations, etc.) and how criteria will be monitored during the business threat condition. Criteria are to be product specific, as appropriate. Also included are product review and disposition criteria to determine what product is recoverable, what is salvageable and what is to be destroyed. Methods for recovery, salvage, and destruction shall be described within plan.

Communication during a crisis is important. Methods for communication with customers and news media should be described and the individual (s) who is/are responsible for communications should be identified.

The Crisis Management plan should include a crisis alert contact list, sources of legal assistance, which may counsel management in a crisis situation, and designation of responsibilities for internal and external communication during a crisis.

For some smaller suppliers, the Crisis management team and recall team may be one and the same. For larger suppliers, they may differ.

An environmental monitoring program should identify the applicable pathogens or indicator organisms to test for in the facility.

The number of samples to be taken, the sampling sites, and the frequency of sampling should be indicated in an environmental sampling plan.

All sample sites should be marked on a map of the facility.

A sampling schedule should be prepared. Responsibility for sampling should be identified.

A corrective action plan should be in place that includes cleaning, re-sampling, vector swabbing and follow up testing.

All corrective actions should be documented and indicated on a map of the facility.

All sampling records should be maintained, which includes all results and follow up tests.

“Food Defense is having measures in place to reduce the chances of someone intentionally contaminating the food supply in order to kill or hurt people, disrupt our economy, or ruin your business.”

The facility should prepare, implement and maintain a food defense protocol that outlines the methods, responsibilities and criteria for preventing food adulteration caused by deliberate acts of sabotage. This plan should be reviewed, at minimum, on an annual basis. The facility should designate a member of management who has responsibility for food defense. This responsible individual must assure that there are procedures in place for recording and controlling access to areas of the facility by employees, contractors and visitors.

The protocol should identify how the supplier limits access to designated areas of the operation to only appropriately authorized employees. The facility should implement steps to protect sensitive processing points from intentional contamination. The protocol should explain how the company insures the secure storage and transportation of raw materials, packaging, equipment, hazardous chemicals and finished product.

Specific areas of program that may be addressed include: Employee identification, visitor, contractor, tour access, physical security of the facility, (e.g., secured doors, windows, outside storage areas), secure chemical storage, restricted access to sensitive areas of processing, secure storage of ingredients, packaging and equipment not in use, secure storage and transportation of finished product and tamper proof or tamper-evident packaging.

The plan should define how these areas are to be addressed. The facility is free to develop adequate measures to address specific areas to ensure control through a wide variety of solutions.

An audit is an independent examination of the system. Audits should encompass multiple levels of requirements, including: the plan, execution of the plan and evidence of success. There are all types of audits that may be performed in a facility.

Types of audits:

  • Facility and equipment inspections
  • Foreign Materials
  • GMPs
  • Pre-requisite programs or Preventative Controls
  • Food safety plans (HACCP)
  • Food quality plans (QACCP)
  • Legislative controls
  • Pre-Ops
  • Sanitation
  • Pest Control

The facility should have a schedule prepared detailing the scope and frequency of internal audits. The following should be identified: who will perform the audit, what will be audited, where will the audit be performed and when.

The audit should have a checklist that outlines areas and allow space on the checklist for adequate descriptions, a column for corrective actions, who is responsible for the corrective action, and the date it is completed.

The facility should ensure that the staff conducting internal audits is adequately trained. Staff conducting internal audits should be independent of the area being audited.

When internal audits are performed, corrections and corrective actions of identified deficiencies are correctly allocated, followed up, and completed.

Internal audit results are communicated to relevant management and staff.

Records of internal audits, any corrections and corrective action taken as a result of internal audits should be maintained.

Non-conforming product is product at any stage in the process that does not meet agreed food safety and quality criteria. This can apply to raw materials, ingredients, packaging materials, work-in-progress or finished product. It can also apply to any other material used in the facility that can impact product safety or quality, e.g. cleaning chemicals, processing aids, equipment.

The facility should document the procedure that outlines how to label and identify products that are rejected or quarantined as a result of inspection, audit or process deviation. The facility should describe how non-conforming product is isolated in order to avoid its re-use or shipment.

The program should also identify who can release the product from hold and determine its disposition.

Employees should be trained in the Hold procedure and what their responsibility is if a product is put on hold.

In circumstances where product is adulterated or condemned, the supplier should detail how the condemned product is identified and disposed of.

The facility should also document a procedure for equipment that has been found to be non-conforming. This procedure may be combined with, or separate from, that for non-conforming product. The equipment should be identified and placed out of production until it is repaired or otherwise disposed of.

The means of identification of non-conforming product and equipment should be communicated to relevant staff. This can be a system of tags, signs, designated storage locations and/or system holds.

A record of the disposition of non-conforming product and equipment including product that is reworked, repackaged, condemned and/or disposed of should be maintained.

The facility should have a Pest Control program that covers the premises, its surrounding areas, storage facilities, machinery and equipment should be kept free of waste or accumulated debris so as not to attract pests and vermin.

The program should include a list of the targeted pests, an outline of the methods used to prevent pest problems, an outline of the pest elimination methods. It should also include the frequency with which pest status is to be checked.

The program should include a site map that identifies the location, number and type of bait stations set. Bait stations should only be used on the perimeter of the facility. Ketchall traps are appropriate for the interior of the facility.

A list of the chemicals used (they are required to be approved by the relevant authority and their Safety Data Sheets (SDS) made available).

The methods used to make staff aware of the bait control program and the measures to take when they come in contact with a bait station.

Trained personnel should perform inspections for pest activity on a regular basis.

If the facility hires an outside pest control contractor, they should be licensed and approved by the local relevant authority. They should use only approved chemicals.

They should provide a pest control management plan, which would include a site map indicating the location of bait stations and traps.

They should report to a responsible authorized person on entering the premises and after the completion of inspections or treatments and provide a written report of their findings and the inspections and treatments applied.

The supplier should dispose of unused pest control chemicals and empty containers in accordance with regulatory requirements and ensure that empty chemical containers are not reused. Empty containers are labeled, isolated and securely stored while awaiting collection; and unused and obsolete chemicals are stored under secure conditions while waiting authorized disposal by an approved vendor.

The perimeter of the facility should be maintained. Unkempt surrounds (including the accumulation of unused equipment, pallets, bins, drums or waste) can provide harborage for vermin and other pests and in turn pose a serious hazard to the hygienic operation of a food premises.

All pest control records should be maintained.

A Preventative Maintenance Program should include the methods and responsibility for the maintenance and repair of plant, equipment and buildings. Maintenance procedures must be carefully planned, designed, documented and implemented to avoid contamination of product, materials or equipment and to ensure that maintenance staff, including contractors, have an understanding of the safety and quality implications of maintenance activities.

A maintenance program should address the following:

  • There is a planned maintenance schedule that includes critical equipment and areas of the site.
  • There are maintenance procedures that include food safety and quality issues.
  • Maintenance procedures afford no risk to product safety and integrity.
  • Maintenance personnel and contractors know maintenance procedures.
  • Maintenance staff and contractors follow food safety and hygiene practices.
  • Preventative maintenance activities are documented.
  • Plant and equipment failures are documented.
  • The maintenance schedule is adjusted for plant and equipment failures.
  • Operating staff and supervisors are notified when repairs are made/completed.
  • All tools, parts and debris are removed from repair areas.
  • Sanitation activity occurs after maintenance repair in food processing areas.
  • Notification occurs when potential risk to product is evident through maintenance activities or breakdowns.
  • Food grade lubricant is used in food contact zones, conveyors, and on all motors over food contact surfaces.
  • Food grade lubricant is used sparingly and does not come into contact with food product, materials, or food contact surfaces.
  • Paint is not used on product contact surfaces.
  • Maintenance records are available and retained

A product release program ensures that only compliant products are released to the market. The facility should prepare a procedure outlining the responsibility and protocols for the release of products and effectively implement that procedure.

Product release also applies to the procedures for releasing quarantined or held product. A facility may do this by outlining in-line process measures that demonstrate that products are compliant with specified requirements. In this procedure, the supplier will identify those personnel responsible for collecting samples and carrying out inspections, or ensuring that inspections are carried out, and the methods for doing so.

The product release procedure not only applies to positive release of compliant products, the supplier should also outline the procedure for releasing products from quarantine or hold status.

In all cases, the facility should identify those staff positions with responsibility for releasing products and indicate the action they will take when results are outside specification, including reference to other procedures for holding, reworking or disposing of product.

The facility should ensure that:

  • All products are confirmed as compliant before release to the market.
  • All staff is familiar with product release procedures and that personnel authorized to release product are aware of their responsibilities.
  • All products under quarantine or authorized personnel only release hold status after the product has successfully passed inspection. All products released for distribution should have records maintained. These records should record the product name and identification, confirmation of product checks, and the product disposition (e.g., release, quarantine, hold). Products released from hold should also be recorded.
  • Records should include the amount of product that was held and the reason for the hold. Records should be reviewed routinely to ensure that holds are closed out. Any product that is still on-hold should be physically or visually verifiable.

Product descriptions should include product specifications. The specifications should fully describe the materials used in the product. It is a written statement of an item's required characteristics documented in a manner that facilitate its procurement or production and acceptance.

Safety-related information in raw material and ingredient specifications may include threshold levels for microbiological pathogens, factors affecting microbiological growth such as pH and water activity, threshold levels for potential chemical or physical contaminants and the presence or absence of known allergens. The extent to which these factors need to be included in the specifications will depend on the use of the material and the food safety risk to the finished product.

Quality related detail included in material specifications could include information such as color, grade, nutritional data, size, weight, type of packaging, etc. Customer specifications may also be included.

A list of all raw material and packaging specifications (including finished product labels) should be kept, including a version number and date so that there is proof that specifications are updated as needed.

All raw and packaging materials should be validated to ensure hazards and risks to finished product safety and quality are identified and controlled. Raw and packaging materials should be included in the HACCP/ Food Safety Plan.

Validation testing is over and above daily monitoring to ensure that established food safety and quality limits are effective, i.e., they achieve the desired results, so that the supplier can have confidence that the product and process are safe.

Validation methods will vary depending on the risk to finished product safety. Validation for low risk materials may include certificates of analysis or certificates of conformance, provided by an approved vendor.

For high-risk materials, testing and analysis is required for validation, and should be carried out at least annually. For food-contact packaging material, this may include testing or assurances for potential chemical migration to the food product.

A quality manual should be documented, maintained, made available to relevant staff and include or reference the written procedures, standard operating practices, work instructions, and quality plans.

The manual should provide a sampling plan, including size of sample and frequency, specifications, test procedures and off-specification actions for ingredients, in-process testing, and finished products.

The facility should document a procedure outlining the methods established to test finished product, work-in-progress and/or raw materials to ensure they meet specification in relation to food safety and quality. Inspections, test or analysis of finished product should be finalized before delivery to a customer.

The facility should identify those with responsibility for sampling, inspecting and testing finished product, work-in- progress and/or raw materials and identify the methods used to collect samples and complete these tests, inspection and analyses.

The types of testing that are conducted on finished product should be determined by the finished product specification. Examples are varied and can include sensory analysis (e.g., taste, color, flavor, odor), physical (e.g., count, weight, size, texture), chemical (e.g., fat, salt, moisture, brix, pH), or microbiological (e.g., aerobic plate count, yeast and mold, coliforms).

If an external laboratory analysis is used, the facility should demonstrate that such analysis is completed by a recognized laboratory that is accredited to a national standard and one that uses recognized industry standard methods.

The supplier should ensure that staff is qualified, trained and competent to complete sampling inspection and analyses.

Records should be maintained of all inspections, tests and analyses.

A product recall applies when a product is found to be unsafe or otherwise in breach of regulatory requirements and is withdrawn from public sale and the consumer market is advised not to use or consume that product. Recalls may be mandatory (i.e., initiated by a regulator), retailer driven, or voluntary (i.e., initiated by the supplier).

A product withdrawal applies when a dispatched product is found not to meet safety or quality requirements, is deemed not suitable for sale and is withdrawn from the distribution chain before it has reached the consumer.

The plan should include details of how all raw materials, packaging materials and processing aids are linked through to the finished product; and should outline how the supplier accounts for the reuse of reworked product. The product trace procedure should outline how the supplier traces product to a customer and who is responsible for implementing and maintaining the product trace system.

A product recall and withdrawal procedure should be prepared, implemented and regularly reviewed to ensure everyone involved in the recall process understands their role and their responsibility in the event of a recall or withdrawal.

A Recall Team should be in place to coordinate and manage recalls. The facility should prepare a withdrawal and recall procedure describing the methods, responsibilities and procedures they implement in the event of a product withdrawal or recall.

The plan should include an up-to-date list of customers, regulators and other essential contacts that need to be notified in the event of a withdrawal or recall. Outline a communication plan to inform customers, consumers, authorities and other essential bodies in a timely manner appropriate to the nature of the incident.

It should also include an outline of the methods the supplier will implement to investigate the cause of a withdrawal or recall.

Records of any/all recalls and withdrawals should be maintained. These records may include production records, raw materials receiving records, rework records, product holds, and product storage and distribution records. The supplier should test product that has already been released so that full distribution traceability can be verified.

Visual inspection and documentation of all incoming shipments of raw materials should be required. The receiver should verify that all incoming carriers are in good repair, clean, no evidence of pests, proper temperatures and free of offensive odors. Proper securing of all shipments should be checked when delivered.

All seal numbers should be recorded on shipping documents before the seal is broken. The facility should record supplier codes for traceability purposes and inspect all incoming materials.

The facility should verify all incoming shipments are from approved suppliers, or are being shipped under prior arrangements made by management.

A procedure should be in place on how to identify, handle, store and segregate raw materials containing allergens. Training should be provided to staff responsible for receiving those target raw materials.

A good practice is to maintain a receiving log that includes the product, lot numbers, quantity received, and comments on the inspection of the shipment. The log should include a record of the temperatures if applicable.

The training program should include a description of how the training needs of the organization are fulfilled. It should include a current list of all employees and their job descriptions. Each job description should identify what training is necessary for that job. The employee training program covers all jobs performed at the facility.

The employee training program should include Job/task performance, good manufacturing practices, pre-requisite programs, cleaning and sanitation procedures, food regulatory requirements, Bio security/Food Defense, Chemical control, Hazard communication, Foodborne pathogens, Pest Control Awareness, Allergen management and emergency preparedness.

The employee training program should include hazard analysis relevant to the employee’s role in the food safety plan; Two-day (or equivalent), examinable Food Safety Training should be required for the Food Safety Team Leader. However other employees involved in the development of food safety plans, and/or food quality plans should be trained in Food Safety (HACCP). Also, staff involved in maintenance of the food safety and quality plans should have an understanding of HACCP principles and the HACCP process, and their role in the Food Safety (HACCP) process.

The employee training program should include requirements to meet customer specifications.

Work Instructions can be delivered in a number of ways:

  • Written work instructions (SOPs) may be useful when a particular task is complicated (i.e., requiring skilled operators) or repetitious.
  • These instructions can serve as a valuable training reference when staff needs to check the correct way of doing a task.
  • Photos and diagrams can be particularly useful to overcome language barriers or when a task involves a number of different steps.

Training materials and the delivery of training should be provided in language understood by staff.

Refresher training should be performed at least annually or more often if necessary. A good practice is a short written test, to document the training and the learning achieved. Training Records should include the trainee participant, the skill or knowledge applied, the type of training provided, the date of training, the training provider (e.g., internal or external), competency assessment, (generally by the immediate supervisor). The training records should be signed and dated by the trainee.

Verification is a confirmation through the review of effective evidence that requirements have been fulfilled. The Codex definition, is verification applies to the entire Food Safety System and includes methods such as sampling, internal audit and revalidation to demonstrate that the System is working and is effective.

Examples of verification activities should include review of inspection records to ensure all monitoring tasks are completed at the frequency that is defined, ensuring that internal audits occur at the frequency defined, ensuring corrective and preventative actions are effectively implemented and product testing.

It is a good practice to establish a frequency schedule and methods for validating and verifying all parts of the Food Safety System. This would include all prerequisite programs and CCPs. Also any records that include check sheets for any SOPs.

All verification records should be reviewed based on a schedule, that defines who, what, where and when. Verification records should be maintained and available for any outside auditor or inspector. When a document or program is verified, it should be signed and dated by the verifier. Documentation of verifications is necessary to prove programs have been verified.

Potable water, or drinking water, is water that is safe enough to be consumed by humans or used with low risk of harm. Potable water is used in washing of food product, as an ingredient, cleaning and the manufacture of ice or steam that comes into contact with food product or food contact surfaces.

The supplier should ensure the availability of sufficient supplies of water both as a processing ingredient and for cleaning purposes.

The facility should ensure that water reticulation lines within the site are constructed of suitable material and in good condition, with no rust or corrosion.

All water systems should be protected against backflow. Backflow prevention devices should be installed on all water and steam lines in the processing facility.

If non-potable water is used on the premises, a map indicating potable and non-potable water lines should be maintained and updated as needed. Descriptions of the mechanisms used to prevent cross-contamination should be fully described.

Where in-plant chlorination of water is required for washing, rinsing or cleaning purposes, a free residual chlorine level of 0.25 ppm after 20 minutes of contact time (or equivalent at the point of use) is recommended. In-line chlorination that provides higher levels of free residual chlorine at specific points is also acceptable.

Regular sampling and testing of residual chlorine should be implemented to ensure a safe water supply. Other methods of bactericidal treatment such as UV lighting may be used. In all cases, a program of regular microbiological testing of water is required to verify in-plant effectiveness of all water treatments.

Microbiological analysis of the water should be conducted to verify the cleanliness of the supply, the monitoring activities and the effectiveness of the treatment measures implemented.

Even though the water supply may come from the town or regional water supply in which the water is treated, safety tested and maintained by the local authority, it is required that food processors implement their own testing to ensure the safety of the potable water used within the facility.

Water should be tested at least every 12 months for potability. When utilizing an outside laboratory, use a laboratory that is properly accredited to complete the desired tests.

All water testing records should be maintained on site.