This guide outlines the information which should be provided in the process control documents to demonstrate that a ready-to-eat (RTE) product would remain safe to the end of its shelf life as a result of the control measures for eliminating sources of contamination and preventing product contamination.
This guide applies to refrigerated RTE products with a shelf life greater than 5 days for which there are no processing control measures used which inhibit the growth of Listeria monocytogenes (L. monocytogenes) for the duration of the shelf life.
3.0 Control Measures for Eliminating Sources of Contamination and Preventing Product Contamination
RTE products for which there are no control measures to inhibit the growth of L. monocytogenes rely on enhanced sanitary, hygiene and pest control measures to prevent contamination and thereby ensure that the product will remain safe to the end of its shelf life. The sanitary and pest controls eliminate sources of contamination and in addition to the hygiene control measures, help prevent product from getting contaminated during processing. When these controls are essential in ensuring a product's safety, the process control documents should include the following information:
3.1 Sanitation Control Measures
The process control documents should include procedures on the cleaning and sanitation of the premises, processing and storage areas which describes:
- the person(s) or positions responsible;
- the premises, processing, and storage areas to be cleaned and sanitized;
- the equipment and utensils to be cleaned and sanitized;
- the frequencies for cleaning and sanitizing;
- the cleaning and sanitizing equipment and its intended use;
- the cleaning chemicals and/or compounds, their concentrations and intended use, and instructions for proper application (duration of application and temperature of cleaning compounds when applied);
- instructions on how to disassemble/reassemble equipment for cleaning and disinfecting;
- the methods of cleaning, disinfecting, and rinsing;
- the monitoring procedures to ensure that the control measures are being correctly and consistently carried out:
- what is being monitored;
- how it is being monitored;
- the frequency of monitoring;
- the person(s) or positions responsible for the monitoring activities.
3.2 Hygiene Control Measures
The process control documents should include the procedures followed in the establishment to prevent the contamination and cross-contamination of the RTE products by the activities of the personnel/visitors which describes:
- the hygiene practices to be followed by the personnel regarding cleanliness, conduct, hand washing, use of hair nets hand and/or foot dips, use of gloves and when they need to be replaced, clothing or jewellery which could contaminate food, storage of personal belongings;
- instructions for visitors/guests/maintenance personnel;
- instructions on personnel/visitor traffic flow;
- the rules regarding the exclusion of personnel from food handling in the event they are affected by a communicable disease or have an injury which could come in contact with the food;
- the training given or required in food hygiene for the food handlers.
3.3 Pest Control
The process control document should describe the controls to prevent and eliminate the presence of pests including:
- measures to prevent the entry of pests and animals, through proper construction and layout of facilities;
- measures to control the opening and closure of doors and windows;
- measures to exclude animals such as dogs, cats and birds;
- a list of chemicals and devices used for pest control, their approval for the intended use, the concentration applied, the locations where applied, and the method and frequency of application;
- procedures to ensure that the pest control program is carried out in a manner that does not contaminate food or packaging materials during, or subsequent to, pest control applications.
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