Protein processing may face more challenges than any other food sector. Meat and poultry account for the largest segment of U.S. agriculture, according to NAMI. With more pressures on the meat industry, it can feel like a juggling act keeping up with competing interests – animal welfare, dangerous micro-organisms, sustainability, and safety – while still meeting production goals. While it may present a challenge, it’s not impossible.
Here are the biggest issues in Protein, with links to resources for further reading.
Animal Welfare Best Practices
Animal welfare is unique to the protein industry. One way to make sure your team understands and can demonstrate proper unloading, receiving, and handling, humane stunning practices for cattle and pigs, according to NAMI, is through animal welfare training courseware that is updated to reflect the most recent regulations. Correct live bird processing, and overfishing are also important to know to maintain a responsible food supply – and to satisfy consumer expectations.
Protein processors with in-depth knowledge of animal welfare best practices have a better chance of passing external audits. This quick video shows how customizing training content so that it’s specific to your facility can help keep animal welfare regulations top of mind across your workforce.
Food Safety Solutions
As long as dangerous micro-organisms like salmonella and E. coli exist, food safety will be a major concern. Food safety threats result in outbreaks that cost revenue, brand image, and even lives. Creating and maintaining a strong food safety culture is a smart step toward minimizing risk, protecting people, and maintaining your brand’s integrity.
Ensuring your entire workforce follows proper GMPs and sanitation methods keeps protein processors in the safe zone on food safety. One way to do this is by shifting from a mindset of training, to educating your frontline workers. Consider using an integrated training program that teaches safety principles empowers workers and helps them make smart decisions.
Companies producing Ready-To-Eat (RTE) meat products face particular challenges to prevent Listeria Monocytogenes contamination. Beyond sound sanitation procedures, companies should explore post lethality treatments such as High Pressure Processing or surface pasteurization along with anti-microbial processes such as including lactates in formulations or spraying products with acidic rinses to increase their margin of safety.
Adhering to Regulations
It’s no surprise that regulations look a lot different than they did twenty, even ten years ago. Protein is the most highly regulated and audited of any other sector. Engaging frontline workers on safety can prove challenging amid evolving and tightening federal regulations. A better training program designed to reach a diverse workforce can help make sure every associate understands important messaging.
Protein companies must ensure their HACCP Food Safety Plans are well written and properly validated. It is imperative to follow a thorough HACCP reassessment process at least annually, and whenever process or industry changes dictate. When doing so, keep these Top 5 HACCP Reassessment Mistakes in mind.
Companies must be prepared for a USDA Food Safety Assessment, which could be conducted at any time. Basic HACCP Training is a regulatory requirement for all personnel who write or reassess the HACCP Plan. HACCP Awareness Training for other HACCP Team Members and the general employee population is critical to the success of the food safety system. Critical Control Point (CCP) personnel who perform monitoring and verification activities also must have well documented training to assure their competency.
Mitigating Risk of Worker Injury
Food manufacturing can be risky, and protein processing is no different. Getting workers on the same page regarding PPE, safety measures, and proper procedure greatly decreases the likelihood of workplace injuries.
Workers are more likely to understand the whys and hows of risk when training material is reinforced. Using a number of channels, like digital signage, posters, huddle guides, and even webinars — such as this one on avoiding the top ten most frequent OSHA violations — are great ways to identify learning gaps or needs in your workplace.
The workforce protein processors rely on spans education levels, generations, cultures, and languages. As regulations tighten, it’s even more crucial that frontline workers are knowledgeable and confident enough to take smart actions.
A safety program that creates a continuous learning environment is more likely to engage, and thus retain, a diverse workforce and foster ongoing education that will drive positive change.
Alchemy Systems has built world-class training, coaching, and reinforcement programs designed to equip frontline workers with the knowledge and confidence to take smart actions. Our multi-channel program creates a fun environment for learning that elevates performance and improves safety. Check out our engaging knowledge-based training system to see how it can help you get past Protein’s particular pain points.