and will make improvements to it even without ever going through a disruption.
Finally, every response to a facility emergency should ultimately lead to a postmortem review of the incident. This postmortem should include the following:
1. Discovery of the system interruption: Was it timely?
2. Documentation of the events: Were all needed records maintained?
3. If a plan was in place prior to the event, was it followed?
4. Was product handled properly and conditions restored promptly?
5. Was there a way to prevent the disruption?
6. Is it likely that future disruptions will be similar to this one?
7. Were customers notified in a timely manner and market impacts minimized?
8. If your plant is one of many in a company, have you shared learnings from this
Hayriye Cetin-Karaca, Ph.D., is a food microbiologist in the food safety and quality department of Smithfield
Gene W. Bartholomew, Ph.D., is the senior corporate director of food safety with Smithfield Foods.
4. Mor-Mur, M and J Yuste. 2010. “Emerging Bacterial Pathogens in Meat and Poultry: An Overview.” Food Bioprocess Technol 3: 24.
5. Schelin, J et al. 2011. “The Formation of Staphylococcus aureus Enterotoxin in Food Environments
and Advances in Risk Assessment.” Virulence 2( 6):580–592.
ting it to either refrigerated trailers or an
outside cold-storage facility. Once that
is handled, plant personnel will have to
manage work in process. Typically, any
food items requiring refrigeration will
be a total loss after one day without refrigeration and should be removed from
the facility. Prior to startup after refrigeration is restored, it is usually necessary
to completely clean and sanitize holding coolers and chilled shower systems
as they often rely on cold temperatures
to delay less than daily or weekly cleaning. And don’t forget about incoming
raw ingredients that need refrigeration.
These shipments should be canceled or
delayed as best as possible.
Planning for major disruptions in
plant processes is critical to minimize
financial costs to the facility and to
protect consumers. These disruptions
will happen; when they do, the frenzied
activity that results without proper planning is not the best situation for making
decisions that are wide reaching. We
are not suggesting that you spend a lot
of time planning for a catastrophe, but
instead focus on disruptions that are
likely to hit major programs and utilities. This planning begins with an analysis of all programs like PRPs that form
the foundation for your food safety and
quality plans. First, ask what hazards
these programs help control and in their
absence, or if they lose effectiveness,
what the likely outcome is. Can you
identify backup plans before needed, or
even better, can you design the system
to be more robust so it is less likely to
fail? Once you have a list of programs
that are at risk, and you understand the
consequences of losing that function, it
is time to write a procedure that should
mitigate most, if not all, of the harm
this interruption will cause. It is equally
important to assign responsibilities to
individuals so it is clear to everyone
what their role will be. There is another
reward for the plants that undertake this
risk analysis procedure: If you address
this task in depth, you will find a deeper
level of understanding of your process
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