Food safety is a big issue — but how big?

We all know that food safety is a big issue, particularly now with the debate surrounding the FSMA. Producing safe, hygienically produced products is important. Some recent statistics underscore just how important.

According to the CDC, 76 million people are sickened by food-borne illnesses each year, leading to roughly 325,000 hospitalizations and 5,000 deaths. The cost of food-borne illnesses to the U.S. economy each year is more than $150 billion. The cost to specific food industries following an outbreak can be devastating. For example, in 2006 the spinach industry lost as much as $74 million due to a highly publicized E. Coli contamination, followed by a staggering $350 million in losses the following year. This amount paled in comparison to the $1 billion price tag paid by the nation’s peanut producers to contain a salmonella contamination of peanut butter.
The stats go on. There is a definable human and economic toll to food safety failures. As such, it’s best to proactively address food safety to stem any potential problems before they manifest. The investment in up-to-code processes and products far outweighs the reactive approach to fixing problems after they have occurred. How? It starts with forward-thinking industrial engineering and process engineering, continues through responsible construction and site improvement practices, flows into the use of the right process system products, and finishes up with comprehensive training backed by ongoing field service and preventative maintenance.

The fundamentals of sanitary design will always hold true. These include appropriate means and methods, validated cleaning processes, standardized operation, diligent maintenance, and redundant quality check points. The key is to build a process system that includes all of the current safety requirements, but with the flexibility for ongoing improvement. Today’s process systems also need automation and instrumentation that constantly monitor the process to ensure that conditions remain within allowable limits. As the science of food safety evolves—and the regulatory environment evolves with it—process system design-build companies like Wright Process Systems can help processors implement improvements to their already established systems to improve final product quality. To learn more about this process or to speak with a food safety expert, contact Wright Process Systems today.