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When your sports nutrition business relies on meeting food safety standards, a cross-contamination incident is your worst nightmare. Allow allergens to stray and you’ll have to destroy product and stop production for a full clean down while paying wages and leaving orders unfulfilled. And that’s the best-case scenario. If a product recall is required, you’ll face an additional hefty bill and damage to your reputation. Should a customer report contamination to the local authority, you can’t recommence manufacturing until you’ve had the all-clear. Having a contamination response plan in place is good but you can be even more proactive by preventing an occurrence in the first place. Read on to find out…
What Counts as an Allergen?
Maintaining control over every ingredient poses a serious challenge to a sport nutrition manufacturer, particularly as around 20% of the UK population suffer from food hypersensitivity. The law requires you to label and control 14 of the most common allergens in your products, including items like milk, nuts and soya.
However, if you have additional product accreditations, you’ll need to beware of broader contamination risks. For example, Vegan Society endorsement relies on products being free from animal products, genetically modified compounds or animal tested ingredients. This takes material control up another level.
To cater for intolerance, dietary choices and specific training needs, products are becoming increasingly niche requiring smaller runs and more frequent, thorough system clean downs and changeovers. This means that there is a greater chance of human error: from the inclusion of incorrect ingredients to mislabeling product and not having cleaned sufficiently well.
A smart sports nutrition manufacturer ensures that their production equipment is designed to reduce the possibility of contamination throughout the manufacturing and packaging process. Switch to this type of production machinery and you’ll be able to develop innovative product lines that keep you ahead of the competition while controlling cross-contamination risk.
Critical Contamination Risk Points and How to Control Them
To avoid the shutdown of your operation, put the tools in place that will help you control the following critical contamination risk points throughout your manufacturing processes.
Regardless of how careful your operators are, if your production equipment isn’t clinically clean then there is a risk of cross-contamination and poor food hygiene. Use processing machinery that’s designed to meet the highest hygiene and safety requirements reduces this risk.
Look for mixing units that are completely smooth inside to prevent the build-up of product and trapped contaminants. Additionally use effective cleaning systems that can air or wet-wash whist offline therefore increasing production up-time and giving you the hygienic conditions you need to create safe products.
When you rely on people adding the correct amounts of different materials, you are relying on human precision. Having clear labels and other efficiency enhancing processes should reduce errors.
Once the materials are in the mixing bin you need to know that they will stay there. When you’re mixing products, particularly with flyaway ingredients like light powders, you need to be certain that the product remains where it should.
Sealed Intermediate Bulk Container (IBC) units blend ingredients in-bin and prevent materials from escaping. Our case studies show how they retain control of allergens and enable manufacturers to process with confidence.
Transferring complete product into the packaging is another potential risk point. Powders, tablets and capsules can be easily spilled, releasing allergens into the air and on to machinery. While you may package in a separate area, contaminants can easily be transferred on the soles of shoes, clothing or become airborne.
If you’re reviewing your packaging needs, it’s worth considering packaging containers which provide dust-free transfer from an IBC unit into your packaging machine, without the need for additional screw feeders. This makes it easier to strip and clean contact parts and remove allergens from even the tightest spots.
As your business grows, it’s essential to reduce cross-contamination risks and remove the threats associated with shutdowns. Install quality manufacturing equipment to help you do the right timing and ensure your next manufacturing equipment purchase is your last.