HACCP expert discusses roles in food safety assurance

by Bryan Salvage
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CHICAGO — No one in the meat and poultry industry wants problems as a result of people consuming their products. But a customer or consumer can’t inspect safety or quality into a product once they receive it, said Bobby Palesano, vice-president of technical services, International HACCP Alliance, during a presentation titled "Positioning Your Company for Food-Safety Success" delivered last March 27 during the 2009 Meat Industry Management Conference in Chicago. The North American Meat Processors Association sponsored the event.

In defining food-safety success, Mr. Palesano said it’s the result of many things coming together including incorporating a science-based food-safety program; compliance with all regulatory requirements; no recalls, illnesses or injuries associated with a company’s products; and no customer complaints, among other things.

Those responsible for food safety, include suppliers (safety starts with incoming materials); every packing and processing company (both management and on-line workers); customers and/or consumers (they’re responsible for proper handling and preparations); and F.S.I.S. inspectors, district personnel and headquarters personnel.

"No single sector stands alone," he added.

Mr. Palesano pointed out that the hazard analysis should include food-safety hazards that can occur before, during and after entry into a plant. Suppliers may need to share information/data to help further processors support decisions. "Suppliers and further processors must work together to ensure product safety," he stated.

Each packing or processing plant must be able to explain and support all of its food-safety decisions. Each establishment should also observe the process to ensure that the written programs are being implemented appropriately, as well as update programs as needed.

"Cooperate and communicate to get the safest food possible," he said.

Mr. Palesano urged processors to get to know F.S.I.S. personnel within their geographic area. "Industry usually waits until it gets in trouble before they communicate with (F.S.I.S.)," he added. "Don’t wait until you get in trouble and expect the agency to respond in a responsible and favorable way."

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