Food safety isn’t a new concept for food and beverage manufacturers but staying on top of all the changes surrounding compliance can be daunting. It seems each year new regulations are released and companies must adjust their policies and procedures to ensure they’re meeting the updated standards.
In August 2022, the BRCGS published the Global Standard Food Safety Issue 9, an update to Issue 8. The certification against Issue 9 will commence in audits beginning February 1, 2023. The BRCGS was developed in 1998 and provides a framework for food manufacturers to assist them in the production of safe food.
X-ray Inspection Technology Aids in Food Safety Compliance
Today BRCGS is used worldwide for food safety standards. Issue 9 represents an evolution from previous ones with a continued emphasis on: a company’s food safety program in relation to HACCP principles, having a supporting quality management system, continued management commitment to food safety and directing the focus of the audit towards the implementation of good manufacturing practices.
Companies who keep aligned with the new BRCGS Issue 9 requirements gain a competitive advantage in today’s ever-changing marketplace. Tightened safety practices assure new and existing customers that you meet high consumer expectations and prevent potentially damaging recalls.
Integrating technology that detects and rejects physical contaminants automatically—as well as ensures product integrity—into a production line is a crucial component of a food safety program. X-ray systems are a trusted, well-established tool that aid compliance in a variety of ways.
Let’s take a look at some requirements outlined in Issue 9 where x-ray technology is the solution to meeting those regulations:
1. Food Safety Culture: Issue 9 continues its emphasis on the importance of a company’s focus towards a strong food safety culture. The new requirements now include five behaviors needed to achieve positive culture change:
- clear and open communication on product safety
- feedback from employees
- the behaviors required to maintain and improve product safety processes
- performance measurement of activities related to the safety, authenticity, legality and quality of products
2. Food Safety Plan: Requirements have not only changed to include establishing verification procedures but also validation of the HACCP plan, including critical control points (CCPs). Understanding and safeguarding CCPs are central to a strong food safety program. X-ray systems installed at CCPs—from the assessment of raw materials to a final check of packages leaving a facility—can stop defective products from reaching consumers and prevent a brand-damaging recall.
3. Internal Audits: Issue 9 requires companies to demonstrate their food safety plan in audits spread throughout the year. Changes in the regulations have been made to the scope of the internal audit program which states all certificated sites must have at least one unannounced audit within every 3-year period, even where they have opted to be part of the announced audit program.
Having systems in place for traceability is an important demonstration of food safety during an audit by a regulatory body or third-party auditor. X-ray inspection equipment has advanced software that stores inspection data, and it can easily be accessed during an audit to ensure compliance.
4. Managing Incoming Raw Materials from Suppliers: Continued importance is placed on this requirement, as sites must have an effective supplier approval and monitoring system to ensure that any potential risks from raw materials are understood and managed.
X-ray systems provide quality assurance of incoming raw materials by detecting and rejecting contaminants found in food and beverage products. Installing x-ray systems at the beginning of a production line stops hazards earlier in the process before they can cause problems. Contaminants like bone fragments can be detected with the latest Eagle technologies—poultry bones down to 1 mm and fishbone down to .5 mm.
5. Corrective and Preventive Actions: This fundamental requirement is all about sites being able to demonstrate that it uses the information from identified failures in the food safety and quality management system to complete necessary corrective actions and prevent recurrences. It’s imperative to document non-conformity, assess the consequences and devise appropriate corrective actions.
Inspection equipment provides crucial data to employees on the production line, as well as upper management, before mistakes result in faulty product leaving a facility. For example, Eagle x-ray machines allow fill levels to be adjusted in real time by adding an optional feedback to the filling machine. This is particularly beneficial as filler feedback control plays a key role in reducing product giveaway.
6. Traceability: The clauses surrounding the topic of traceability requires sites to trace all materials through each stage of processing. X-ray inspection systems paired with advanced image analysis software, like SimulTask™ PRO, can deliver better traceability. Images and data are captured at the point of inspection and stored in a central database. With TraceServer™ software, that information can then be accessed in real-time or retrieved later in the event of a safety-related question or problem.
7. Hygienically Designed Equipment: It’s crucial that production line machinery provide a high degree of protection against liquids or products that could cultivate bacteria. Eagle’s line of meat inspection machines, for example, are built with the sanitary design principles in mind, including an IP69 rating. This makes the x-ray systems better suited to stand up against harsh environments for a longer life span with less wear-down and maintenance. Eagle equipment has robust construction with thicker stainless-steel plates that are cut and welded together, rather than bolted, which eliminates food debris collection points.
8. Foreign-body Detection and Removal Equipment: This regulation explains that the risk of product contamination shall be reduced or eliminated by the effective use of equipment to remove or detect foreign bodies.
X-ray inspection machines are multitasking defenders of food safety. They not only detect and reject foreign bodies, but they also simultaneously provide important quality checks such as identifying voids and verifying fill level, component count, product inclusion and mass measurement.
9. Training: Issue 9 requires that companies must ensure all personnel performing work that affects product safety, legality and quality are demonstrably competent to carry out their activity, through training, work experience or qualification.
It’s critical that companies provide their personnel with training to be competent in their roles. Partnering with Eagle ensures access to world-class training programs. From radiation certification to x-ray operator courses, we make sure your employees understand all aspects of maintaining their new machinery to ensure optimal performance on the production line.
X-ray Technology—The Solution to Meet Food Safety Standards
X-ray inspection equipment is the solution to help your company meet today’s regulatory standards involving everything from traceability and hazard control to managing raw materials and training. Partnering with inspection experts, like Eagle Product Inspection, offers access to long-lasting machines equipped with breakthrough technology that provides trusted, detailed information to help make better, faster decisions.
Long after installation your equipment’s ultimate value is determined by service and support. Eagle’s focus is on providing a lower Total Cost of Ownership, which means keeping your x-ray system running efficiently over its lifetime and being a partner that understands how to ensure its performance from initial startup to the final run.
Contact us to talk to an expert about your unique application and find out all the ways Eagle can improve your quality program. For complete information on the new standard, see the BRCGS Food Safety Issue 9.