This article originally appeared on Inc.com. It has been republished below for our readers like yourself!
For a food manufacturer, there are few things worse than calling for a mandatory food product recall.
Food safety is a big deal and food recalls occur much more frequently than we may realize. And we tend to pay little attention to food safety until a product recall makes national headlines.
Plant managers hate food recalls just as much as we do. A food recall translates into an incredible amount of product that is no longer usable and costs companies millions of dollars in damage control. Just recently, Gerber Products Company recalled two of their organic baby foods because a packaging defect could lead to spoilage during transport. For food manufacturers, the focus is on preventative measures that will better protect public health by strengthening the food safety system.
As consumers, we put a lot of faith into not only the employees who handle our food products, but also the technology that verifies our food products are free of contamination. Take a flour mill, for example. The flour mill is in the business of procuring the wheat and grinding the grain into flour that is then packaged and shipped to distributors. They go through the process of taking a raw product and turning it into a finished product or ingredient that can be sold in the market. But it's difficult to constantly monitor the production line when there is the possibility of unexpected batch contamination that can arise. Raw products, for example, might have grown in an area that uses pesticides or bacteria could have grown during the initial transportation stages, slipping by unnoticed to the manufacturer.
The key to ensuring quality control every single time is a reliable food safety program based on representative sampling. When manufacturers can test samples that are representative of the entire product batch, they can confidently say all of their products have been tested for possible contamination.
Sample analysis based on representative sampling can help companies identify quickly and easily which batches of product were contaminated and prevent recalls of entire shipments of products. Additionally, representative sampling can catch unsafe batches before it leaves a plant, giving companies a much more proactive way of dealing with food safety while providing an accurate overview of the entire production line.
When samples are improperly collected or mishandled, testing results can lead to misguided operational decisions. Companies like Sentry Equipment provide manufacturers with the necessary equipment so they can sample products during the production and manufacturing line. "Adding Sentry automatic samplers throughout a production plant quickly delivers value by ensuring reliable and accurate analysis for food safety regulatory compliance and reducing product waste and production downtime. In the end, our goal is to help our customers protect the public by reducing the risk of ever having to enact a food safety recall, the one thing all food brands want to avoid," said Elisa Filipp, Director of Marketing at Sentry Equipment Corp. "And unlike grab sampling, a representative sampling solution is uniquely designed for the process conditions, process stream, sample type and material characteristics."
The food that we eat is a complex mix that can often include ten to 25 different ingredients - and that could just be for a single food item we consume. So the number of collection units that comprise a representative sample need to be statistically significant in order to paint an accurate picture of the whole batch. Additionally, time and budget restraints put pressure on manufacturers to select samples that can be tested without interrupting or delaying the supply chain.
Representative sampling may come at an initial price, but the long-term benefits of implementing such systems are numerous. Food safety and quality control are key elements to the success of any food production company and the last thing managers want to deal with is a nationwide food recall. Implementing an automated solution to properly collect and test representative samples throughout your processes can save your company a public health nightmare down the road while ensuring your company is distributing the highest-quality product possible.