Employee hygiene is the key to meat safety

03 May 2019

Employees closely working with the product hold the key to meat safety.

The inability of plant employees to follow hygiene practices, such as proper hand washing and wearing sanitized personal protective equipment, can lead to contamination, the spread of foodborne illness, reduction in product shelf life and product recalls.

While operators can reduce incidents through ongoing worker training and monitoring employees, a meat processing facility such as Meatco will never be free of food safety threats.

According to the Quality Assurance Manager, Marchella Somaes, it is important for Meatco to have stringent worker hygiene guidelines in order to reduce the prospect of personnel contaminating machinery, surfaces and, subsequently, the product.

It is common to transfer contaminates from one hygienic zone to another, this may result from employees carrying pathogens on their hands or feet or touching bacteria on equipment.

Extensive ongoing instruction on hygienic procedures is essential for minimizing such incidents, and leveraging a variety of teaching tools can keep training interesting, analysts say. Alternatives include videos, workbooks and hands-on demonstrations, while signs also can remind workers to wash their hands frequently and use hair nets.

Laboratory Manager, Kalihulu Shapwa, says Meatco has put measures in place to control metal contamination, where metal detector machines sense metals that accidentally fall into boxes. They are situated in the Deboning and Red Offal Departments. Unfortunately, if an object is non-metallic and accidentally falls into a box during production, it cannot be detected.

“The Quality Assurance department conducts regular Employee Involvement through Communication meetings, where employees are encouraged to adhere to and practice honesty, for example, in case jewellery is misplaced in the production area,” says Shapwa.

Despite the increase in production, it is important for staff to maintain their usual hygiene, it is important to do it right every time to maintain world-class hygiene standards at all times.