Can Shipping Pallets Increase the Risk of Food Contamination?

CAN SHIPPING PALLETS INCREASE THE RISK OF FOOD CONTAMINATIONCan Shipping Pallets Increase the Risk of Food Contamination?

Recently, sources from the National Consumer League have raised an interesting question. That is, are shipping pallets exposing our food to contamination? While those in the Food Manufacturing industry work together with the government and health groups to improve the safety of America’s food supply, some are concerned that the sanitation of food transportation could use improvement.

Regulations and inspections help ensure food safety at the farm and factory stage, and restaurant workers and consumers can do their part to reduce cross-contamination and unsafe cooking practices inside and outside the home. But many experts feel that the transportation of food from production to the purchase point remains largely overlooked and under-regulated, thus leading to food contamination.

So what exactly is it that people are concerned about when it comes to food transportation? There are several different aspects of pallet use and storage that present potential food safety concerns. For example, if a pallet has the capacity to absorb water, then it is likely to harbor bacteria because it is difficult or even impossible to fully clean. This could contaminate food products such as fresh produce or meat. Another issue could be that a pallet that carries raw seafood on ice to a given destination is later used to transport heads of lettuce or apples to another.

There are steps that can be taken to potentially reduce the risk of food contamination during this transportation stage. For example, the packaging of the food should not allow for bacteria to enter, and pallets should never be stored outside in unsanitary conditions that are accessible to rodents or excessive moisture. An additional consideration when it comes to food pallets is discontinuing their use if they start to splinter, since this can damage food packaging and allow contaminants in.

While there is little that you can do during this process if you are a restaurant or grocery store owner, you can still protect yourself and your business financially with Food Contamination Insurance coverage in case an incident does occur. At Sinclair Risk & Financial Management, we’ll not only craft a comprehensive program for you, but our risk experts will also evaluate your overall financial assets and operations to advise you on other important food service concerns. For more information, please contact us at (203) 265-0996.

How Can Food Manufacturing Plant Design Affect Food Safety?

HOW CAN FOOD MANUFACTURING PLANT DESIGN AFFECT FOOD SAFETYHow Can Food Manufacturing Plant Design Affect Food Safety?

As a food manufacturer, it’s important to be aware that one of the most common food safety issues is the flow of the sanitary design of food processing equipment. When new facilities are being built or new lines are being installed, many food manufacturers may struggle with increasingly fast-paced project schedules and/or limited funds that affect priorities.  To avoid potential food contamination incidences though, it is essential to know the key sanitary design issues and areas that should be addressed during the equipment design phase.

Nooks, cracks and crevices. These are areas where undesirable microorganisms may cultivate.

Equipment feet. Equipment should be designed with the minimum required number of legs to reduce the chances of mold or other harmful bacteria forming.

Welding methods. Using the wrong welding methods can impact food safety. The single V-joint method is preferred over other methods such as square-butt joint, lap joint, or T-joint, as those can lead to niche areas where debris can become trapped.

Flat surfaces. Manufacturing plants should minimize flat surfaces, especially in wash-down areas where microorganisms are easily transferred by water. All angles on the equipment must be curved or rounded with a quarter-inch radius or more.

Other design feature in manufacturing plant design that can affect food safety includes equipment finishes. The right finish must be selected for stainless steel material so that it’s appropriate for food contact, in order for the surface to be effectively cleaned, eliminating the chances of harmful bacteria growing.

Sinclair Risk & Financial Management has innovative Food Manufacturing Insurance solutions for the beverage and Food Manufacturing industry. Our staff is knowledgeable about issues that can affect your company, and our tailored services and products include Food Contamination Insurance, risk consulting, product recall, and more. Please contacts us at (877) 602-2305 for more information.

The FDA Proposes New Food Manufacturing Regulations for 2014

THE FDA PROPOSES NEW FOOD MANUFACTURING REGULATIONS FOR 2014The FDA Proposes New Food Manufacturing Regulations for 2014

In accordance with the 2011 Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), the FDA has proposed a new rule to regulate the manufacturing, processing, packing, or holding of animal food. The reason for this rule, which if approved will take effect in 2014, is to prevent food-borne illness in animal food that can cause harm to animals, but also to humans. This proposed rule comes as a result of many high profile cases of contaminated animal food causing harm to humans. For example, in 2007, 2010, and 2012, salmonella outbreaks in pet food sickened the people that handled it.

This is the first time that the FDA has proposed preventative controls specific to animal food manufacturing in such a comprehensive manner. The regulations that would be set forth by this new rule focus on all areas of production, including adequate sanitation principles for ingredients and finished animal food, good hygiene for personnel, proper cleaning and maintenance of plant and grounds, and pest control. Also, this proposed rule would require food manufacturing facilities to implement a safety system that includes a written food safety plan, a hazard analysis, preventative controls for hazards that are reasonably likely to occur, and continued monitoring, among other factors.

Like many other rules stated under the FSMA, there are possible exemptions for some types of food manufacturing businesses. For more information, questions, or comments, food manufacturers can contact the FDA. They will be accepting comments on this new rule through February 26, 2014.

At Sinclair Risk & Financial Management, we maintain ongoing relationships with insurance companies that specialize in the food industry of all types and categories. We provide Food Manufacturing Insurance, Environmental Liability coverage, Food Contamination Insurance, and more. For more information, please contact us at (877) 602-2305.

Massachusetts Construction Insurance: Contractor Safety- Part 2

MASSACHUSETTS CONSTRUCTION INSURANCE: CONTRACTOR SAFETY- PART 2Massachusetts Construction Insurance: Contractor Safety- Part 2

As discussed in part 1 of this post, if you own a construction company, or even if you are an independent contractor, it’s imperative that you focus on job site safety. The construction industry has one of the highest incidences of workplace injuries, and injury can occur to even the most experienced professionals.

It part 2 of this post, we’ll be looking at the best ways for construction workers to avoid falls on the job site. Falls are amount the most common causes of serious work related injuries for contractors. OSHA requires that construction employers provide fall protection at elevations of four feet in general industry workplaces and six feet in the construction industry. In order to prevent employees from being injured by falls, OSHA also requires that employers:

  • Guard every floor hole into which a worker can accidentally walk.
  • Provide a guard rail and toe-board around every elevated open sided platform, floor or runway and also provide these if there is any chance a worker can fall into or onto dangerous machines or equipment.
  • If necessary, provide safety harnesses and lines, safety nets, stair railings, and hand rails.
  • Provide working conditions that are free of known dangers.
  • Keep floors in work areas in a clean and dry condition.
  • Select and provide required personal protective equipment at no cost to workers.
  • Train workers about job hazards in a language they can understand.

Following these OSHA guidelines will help your construction site comply with safety laws as well as keep your employees safe. At Sinclair Risk & Financial Management, our construction specialists work with clients of all types and fully understand the diversity of this industry. Our customized MA Construction Insurance program is based on your unique needs. Just a couple of products we offer include Professional Liability Insurance and Workers’ Compensation. Please contact us at (877) 602-2305 for more information.

Reducing the Risk of Food Contamination in Your Restaurant

REDUCING THE RISK OF FOOD CONTAMINATION IN YOUR RESTAURANTReducing the Risk of Food Contamination in Your Restaurant

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that each year about 1 in 6 Americans get sick due to foodborne diseases.  About 128,000 Americans are hospitalized per year due to food poisoning or foodborne illnesses. As a restaurant owner or manager, it’s extremely important to be aware of the risks involved when working with food, and equally important to know how to reduce the risk of food contamination in your restaurant. Here are some top food safety tips for the commercial kitchen.

Be sure all staff and managers are properly trained. Not only will a health inspector ask questions of shift managers, general managers, and all other restaurant staff, but if restaurant staff don’t have adequate knowledge of safe food handling practices, they can cause a patron to get sick.

Wash your hands. One of the main culprits of foodborne illnesses is person-to-person contact resulting from dirty employee hands.

Wash all produce. This is the only way to remove any bacteria that may be on the surface.

Properly store refrigerated foods. Refrigerators must maintain a temperature at or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit to minimize bacterial growth.

Cook foods to appropriate temperatures. In order to kill any bacteria present, foods must be cooked to a minimum internal temperature and sustain that temperature for at least 15 seconds.

Check all incoming food shipments. Food can be contaminated anywhere along the supply chain, so it’s important that food service operators purchase foods from approved sources and know when to accept or reject fresh meat, poultry, and seafood.

These are just a few ways to reduce the risk of food contamination. It’s also important that you adequately clean and sanitize all food contact surfaces, perform self-inspections, regularly check temperatures, and know all of your local health codes.

Even with all these precautions in place, it is still possible for a food poisoning incident to occur which is why it’s imperative for your restaurant to carry Food Contamination Insurance. At Sinclair Risk & Financial Management, we will not only craft a comprehensive Food Manufacturing Insurance program for you, but our risk experts will also evaluate your overall financial assets and operations to advise you on important areas. Please contact us today for more information at (877) 602-2305.

Massachusetts Construction Insurance: Contractor Safety- Part 1

MASSACHUSETTS CONSTRUCTION INSURANCE: CONTRACTOR SAFETY- PART 1Massachusetts Construction Insurance: Contractor Safety- Part 1

If you own a construction company, or even if you are an independent contractor, it’s imperative that you focus on job site safety. The construction industry has one of the highest incidences of workplace injuries, and injury can occur to even the most experienced professionals.

In the late 1920’s a theory was developed regarding the sequence of events that lead to construction injuries. This is called Heinrich’s Domino Theory, and it places strong emphasis on the Unsafe Work Act/ Unsafe Work Condition “domino” as Heinrich believed that unsafe acts more frequently are the cause of incidents than unsafe work conditions. In a previous post we discussed job site safety for all the individuals involved in the project. Part 1 of this post will be focusing on contractor safety and the behaviors that could potentially lead to injuries.

Behavior: Distraction

Stressful situations can sometimes lead to careless mistakes such as failure to turn off a machine or neglecting to set a brake. Technology such as cell phone can also prove to be a distraction to on-site workers. If you are a project manager or job-site supervisor, encourage your workers to take regular, scheduled breaks where they can refresh or tend to personal business. This could potentially help take distraction out of the equation.

Behavior: Complacency                                         

Sometimes work gets to be so repetitive that contractors may overlook safety best practices. It’s important as a construction manager to consistently train staff about safety, acknowledge when safe practices are followed, and recognize standout workers.

Behavior: Ignoring or Being Unaware of Regulations

While a company can offer regular and thorough safety training, there will always be instances where workers ignore certain procedures. Be sure to emphasize the importance of safety equipment before and during every project. Safety needs to be a priority on every job site.

If you own a Massachusetts construction company, or even if you are an independent Massachusetts contractor, it’s imperative that you focus on job site safety. The construction industry has one of the highest incidences of workplace injuries, and injury can occur to even the most experienced professionals.

At Sinclair Risk & Financial Management, our construction specialists work with clients of all types and fully understand the diversity of this industry. Our customized Construction Insurance program is based on your unique needs. Just a couple of products we offer include Professional Liability Insurance and Workers’ Compensation. Please contact us at (877) 602-2305 for more information.