All food manufacturers, and anybody involved in the production of food, must understand food hygiene principles and have the knowledge to keep food safe from microbiological, physical, chemical, and allergenic contamination.
This is where cleaning and hygiene plays a vital role. Cleaning is an essential part of any food manufacturing facility. It ensures that the product produced will be safe for consumption by customers, employees, and their families. If you don't have a clean facility, nothing can be said about what might be included in your finished product, which can have serious consequences such as recalls of the stocks, or even worse, fines and imprisonment.
We had an interesting conversation with Mr. Abdalla Bazzari, Quality & Food Safety Manager at PepsiCo. Being the giant that it is, I am sure there is a lot of strategic planning, best practices and a lot more that goes into maintaining the highest standards of hygiene that PepsiCo is known for! We explore these best practices in this exclusive interview!
Tell us about the importance of food hygiene at PepsiCo.
When we speak of PepsiCo, we are talking of an internationally known brand. Food hygiene is part of food safety and food safety is part of the company image. It is a very important factor for the company. In fact, after the safety of people, I would say food safety comes second on our list of priorities. It is one of the main pillars of our company.
What are the best practices in food hygiene that you follow?
When it comes to food safety and hygiene, I believe that having the right mindset is very important. Everyone in the company must be on the same page. They should know the importance of quality and that the hygiene of a plant is not about a specific department. People might think that their job is production or maintenance or any other department. They must know that cleanliness and hygiene is everyone’s responsibility. You have to practice hygiene 24*7 - literally every day and every moment.
Speaking from my experience in the food world, hygiene starts the moment you enter the plant. It reflects in the mindset you have towards hygiene, the tools and chemicals you use, the procedures that you follow and even the verification and monitoring of all these procedures.
The verification part again has three aspects - the people, the environment and the equipment. When it comes to people, we know they need to dress up in a clean and hygienic way, they need to take care of their personal hygiene. When we verify from people, we can take swabs from their hands, we check their uniform and the way they do things.
When it comes to the environment, I’ll give you the example of beverages like non carbonated drinks (NCBs). We will take micro sampling of the air where we verify the amount of bacteria or mold. Same thing is also applicable for the floors.
The equipment verification can be done in two different ways:
- Taking the swab from the machine.
- Testing the finished product that came out from the machine.
The findings of these tests or verification procedures should be measured against your parameters and each industry has different parameters for this verification process
What kind of cleaning technology has Pepsico invested in?
In beverages, we have the CIP i.e. Clean In Place. We have an automated system starting from the CIP room that consists of 3 to 5 steps of cleaning.
We will start with hot water, a chemical that we want to use (acidic, alkaline, or other), then again hot water and then cold water. A flow chart of this water and chemical is very important. Even the concentration of the chemical used is very important.
Tell us about Pepsico's food safety policy
I will reiterate that at Pepsico, food safety is of paramount importance to us at PepsiCo, next to the safety of our staff. Its importance reflects right from the top management, all the way down. Our food safety policy is very elaborate and stringent. It covers all the products, the plants, personal hygiene of the people and much more.
Tell us about the hygiene challenges you face. How do you overcome these challenges?
One of the challenges that we do face is the cost of hygiene. So we are always looking for new technologies that help us save time, that can help us shorten the period of CIB (using chemicals, ofcourse). I will again give you the example of beverages. CIP takes upto 2 to 3 hours. These three hours of production time cost a lot of money. The first challenge is how we can reduce this cost.
The second challenge is ensuring correct implementation of hygiene procedures. You have to train people. Here, the correct verification and monitoring process plays a huge role. For example, if a machine makes an error, the finished product will be far from perfect. So it is important to check after the machines, especially with the current scenario where we fully depend on machines for production. I believe that it is important to do a manual check sometimes and check the records, check the graphs, the temperatures, and find different new ways of checking in order to avoid mistakes.