Food Safety Practices Guidance for Ready-to-Eat Fresh-Cut Vegetable Manufacturers
Chapter 2: Equipment

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2.1 General Equipment

2.1.1 Design, Construction and Installation

All equipment and utensils are designed, constructed and installed to function as intended, to permit effective cleaning and sanitation and to prevent contamination of RTE fresh-cut vegetables.

Anticipated Outcomes

  • Equipment is designed, constructed and installed to ensure that:
    • the process is capable of delivering the results which are required (e.g., rapid cooling, temperature control, sufficient drying, effective package sealing and control of gas flush composition and time for modified atmospheric packaging [MAP]);
    • established temperatures can be achieved and maintained as rapidly as necessary. Cooling equipment is designed to control and monitor temperatures;
    • it can be adequately and easily cleaned, sanitized, maintained and inspected to prevent contamination of the product during operations;
    • it is installed a sufficient distance from floor drains to make them accessible for cleaning and to prevent contamination of the equipment;
    • food contact surfaces are elevated sufficiently above the floor to prevent contamination from floor splashes;
    • contamination of the product during operation is prevented (e.g., appropriate location of lubricant reservoirs, locating catwalks and conveyors such that they do not pass over exposed product or food contact surfaces); and,
    • proper drainage is permitted and, where appropriate, equipment is connected directly to drains. Where applicable, drains are fitted with backflow preventers.

2.1.2 Food Contact Surfaces

Food contact surfaces are constructed of appropriate materials and are maintained in such a manner as to prevent food contamination.

Anticipated Outcomes

  • Food contact surfaces of equipment, containers and utensils are smooth, non-corrosive, non-absorbent, non-toxic, free from pitting, cracks or crevices, open seams, and able to withstand repeated cleaning and sanitation. Food contact surfaces include items such as knives, conveyors, belts, chutes, product totes, gloves, tools (including shovels and racks), cutting boards, tables, dryers and spinner baskets as well as packing scales.
  • When coatings, paints, chemicals, lubricants and other materials are used for food contact surfaces or utilized on equipment where there is a possibility of contact with food, the substances are appropriate for the intended use and are used in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions.
  • Equipment and utensils used to handle inedible material are not used to handle edible material.

2.1.3 Equipment Maintenance and Calibration Program

An effective maintenance and calibration program is in place to ensure that equipment performs consistently as intended and prevents contamination of the product.

Rationale

Establishing a preventive maintenance and calibration program helps to ensure that all equipment functions as intended. Equipment failure requiring maintenance activities during production may increase the risk of biological, chemical and physical contamination.

Anticipated Outcomes

  • The manufacturer has an effective written preventive maintenance and calibration program to ensure that equipment that may have an impact on food safety functions as intended. This includes:
    • a list of equipment requiring regular maintenance (e.g., refrigeration equipment, disinfectant delivery system, valves, gaskets, o-rings, pumps, screens, filters and heat exchanger plates, knives, cutting blades and belts); and,
    • the maintenance procedures and frequencies (e.g., equipment inspection instructions, a schedule of adjustments and part replacements based on the equipment manufacturer's manual or equivalent, or based on operating conditions that could affect the condition of the equipment).
  • The manufacturer establishes written protocols, including calibration methods and frequencies, for equipment monitoring and/or controlling devices that may have an impact on food safety.
  • The equipment is maintained in a manner that ensures that there is no potential for the development of physical or chemical hazards (e.g., hazards resulting from inappropriate repairs, flaking paint and rust, excessive lubrication, leaking fluids).
  • The maintenance and calibration of equipment is done by appropriately trained personnel.
  • The preventive maintenance and calibration programs and written protocol are adhered to.

See Section 7.3.1 for expected Equipment/Instrumentation Maintenance and Calibration Records.

2.1.4 Instrumentation Maintenance and Calibration Program

Instrumentation is designed, constructed, installed, calibrated and maintained such that the equipment is capable of delivering the required process, thereby ensuring product safety.

Rationale

The improper design, installation, calibration or maintenance of instruments can lead to inadequate processing of the product or to misuse of food additives and antimicrobial treatments.

Anticipated Outcomes

  • The manufacturer has an effective written preventive maintenance and calibration program to ensure that instrumentation which may have an impact on food safety functions as intended. This includes
    • a list of instrumentation requiring regular maintenance and calibration; and,
    • the maintenance and calibration procedures and frequencies.
  • The instruments that control factors that may have an impact on food safety are designed, installed, constructed, calibrated and maintained as necessary to ensure that they function as intended.
  • The maintenance and calibration of instruments is done by appropriately trained personnel.
  • The preventive maintenance and calibration programs and written protocol are adhered to.

The following are some examples of instrumentation that may be required to control factors significant to the process:

Temperature measuring devices
  • Temperature measuring/recording devices are installed, calibrated and maintained as necessary to ensure accuracy.
Timing Devices
  • Timing devices are verified upon installation and annually thereafter (or more frequently as necessary to ensure accuracy).
  • Any official timing device is located so that it can be easily and accurately read by the operators.
Metal Detectors
  • Metal detection equipment is designed, constructed, installed, calibrated and maintained in accordance with the equipment manufacturer's manual to ensure effective removal of metals. This may include adjustment for product effect, selection of target metal and size, timing of the reject mechanism and suitability for environmental conditions.
Magnets
  • Magnets are installed to effectively remove metal before or after certain operations (e.g., dicing, slicing or filling).
  • The strength and type of magnets are appropriate to the need.
  • The strength of magnets is confirmed using probes or other effective devices as necessary.
  • Magnets are monitored as necessary to ensure effective operation and surface exposure (e.g., adequately cleaned and metal particles removed).
Meters
  • Flow meters (e.g., chlorine feed rate meters, gas pressure meters, etc.) are verified to ensure accuracy at the time of installation and annually thereafter.
Other Instrumentation
  • Other specialized instrumentation necessary for the control of factors significant to food safety is in place and calibrated as necessary (e.g., chlorine injectors, chlorine concentration test equipment, pH meters).

Note: The manufacturer initiates corrective action as per Section 1.10 - Deviations and Corrective Action when critical limits or limits of acceptability are exceeded, or whenever products could have been affected and found not to meet specifications.

See Section 7.3.1 for expected Equipment/Instrumentation Maintenance and Calibration Records.

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