Raw materials (ingredients, processing aids, and packaging materials) are the foundation of finished food products. As such, they must meet regulatory requirements (safe and legal for your intended use) and your specifications
Trials require close collaboration between R&D and the manufacturing team. These examples of questions to be answered and the method for initiating discussions before, during, and after the trials will help facilitate the trial process.
• Does the new material present a potential safety or handling concern to the employees or the facility (such as a flammable material or an irritating powder that needs venting)?
• Are there additional reporting requirements?
• Are there potential toxic levels of the raw material? If so, how is potential purposeful abuse handled?
• Find historic information about the material via search engines (e.g., “pathogen + name of the material”; “recall + name of the material”; “foodborne illness + name of the materials”)
• The food safety team assesses the potential biological, chemical, and physical hazards affiliated with the raw material (HACCP/HARPC review) as well as affiliated prerequisite programs and downstream prevention/elimination/reduction steps for identified hazards.
• Determine if existing product safety measures are circumnavigated (e.g., the particle size is too large for the existing sifters or metalized packaging passing through a downstream metal detector).
• Are additional processing steps necessary (e.g., an invert and clean if glass containers are the new material being used)?
• Do new programs or procedures need to be developed (e.g., an allergen program and/or validation that the existing change-over procedures are effective in removing a different allergen)?
• Can the plant appropriately handle the material (e.g., is sufficient storage capacity and special equipment or preparation available)?
• Is the existing equipment capable of handling the material (e.g.,granulation is too large for the dispenser)?
• Are there additional costs associated with the material, such as holding for COA review and/or in-house testing, additional labor, decreased line flexibility, increased time for changeovers, increased lead time prior to use (such as thawing, hydration and mixing, etc.)?
• Will additional rotation controls be necessary for short shelf-life materials and will there be additional costs affiliated with more frequent delivery?
• Is the material a commodity-type item that can be purchased from multiple sources? If so, compare existing specifications from multiple suppliers; allow comparison bidding/purchasing.
• Can the tolerances for characteristics be expanded to be able to purchase from more than one source or a wider range of possible, existing materials (such as granulation size for materials that are going to be dissolved or melted)?
• Can purchasing find a similar functionality material that costs less or has fewer concerns?
Typically, the larger the container purchased, the cheaper the cost-per-pound. However, if the forecast is for use of 100 pounds in a year, what is the appropriate-sized container to purchase? It would not make sense to purchase in 50 pound bags (multiple handlings of the package with resulting potential of damage or contamination) or in a Super-Sak (with destruction of, or potential use of, expired materials).
In the next article in this series we will look at : Raw Material Specifications putting our requirements on paper
About the Author
Robin Amsbury is a HACCP Coordinator, AIB.
This article was first published in Quality and Assurance Magazine, and is reproduced with permission.