Dirigo Food Safety

Leading the way to safer food

We make food safety simple for all industries, from producers to suppliers, and everyone in between. We can help develop your food safety plan, review your current procedures, and provide auditing or training services. 


WHAT IS FOOD SAFETY?

Food safety is a general term describing scientific means to prevent food borne illness through managed handling, preparation, and storage of food. Analysis of food safety examines the origins of food, the way it was washed and cooked, and the temperatures and conditions under which it was stored.

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WHAT IS FOOD HYGIENE?

Food hygiene refers to the fundamental conditions and methods necessary for food to remain safe from production to consumption. These are the most basic rules of food safety, as defined by the World Health Organization:

  1. Prevent food contamination that allows pathogens to spread from people and pests.
  2. Separate raw and cooked foods during storage to prevent contamination of cooked foods.
  3. Cook foods at the appropriate temperature for the appropriate length of time to kill pathogens.
  4. Store food at safe temperatures.
  5. Use only potable water and safe raw ingredients.

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WHAT IS A WRITTEN FOOD SAFETY SYSTEM?

A written food safety system is a plan for producing food as safely as possible. If a plan is comprehensive, and followed as written, food borne illness is 100% preventable. A written food safety plan includes SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) that cover such issues as sanitation, pest control, equipment maintenance, approved supplier programs, thermometer calibrations, personnel hygiene plans, and recall instructions. Some plans also include HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points), a system that controls biological, physical, and chemical hazards during production.

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WHAT IS HACCP?

HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) is a written food safety system that uses a preventative approach that controls for biological, physical, and chemical hazards in food production. It is a 12 step program that includes identification of potential hazards and the points in production at which they might occur (the Critical Control Points), management chain of command, and pre-requisite programs with SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) that address sanitation, pest control, equipment maintenance, approved supplier programs, thermometer calibrations, personnel hygiene plans, and recall instructions. HACCP was developed in the 1960s by NASA to ensure that food was safe for space flights. Since then, it has been adopted by most federal agencies as the preferred means of food safety prevention. HACCP plans are mandatory in production of meat, seafood, and juice. Many distributors and retail stores also require HACCP plans for all products.

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WHERE DOES THE FOOD SAFETY CONSULTANT FIT IN?

A food safety consultant can play many roles, from writing a food safety plan to auditing an existing one. At Dirigo Food Safety, we are happy to come in at any stage, working with companies to bring their materials into compliance with both regulators and large distributors. We also offer food safety training—from basic principles to HACCP certification—and crisis management, to help companies get through recalls and regulatory hurdles. Dirigo Food Safety is an ASQ-certified HACCP Auditor.

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WHAT IS THE FOOD SAFETY AND MODERNIZATION ACT (FSMA)?

The Food Safety and Modernization Act, commonly referred to as FSMA (pronounced “fizma”), is a US law that expands the authority of the Food and Drug Administration. It was designed to protect the public from food borne illness through strengthened food safety regulation. In 2011, FSMA passed the House and Senate, and was signed into law by President Obama. FSMA requires food producers to implement:

  • Science-based preventative plans such as HACCP,
  • Mandatory produce safety standards,
  • Consideration of radiological contamination (particularly in water),
  • Strategies to prevent intentional food adulteration.

FSMA grants the FDA new authority to conduct facility inspections to ensure compliance with the law. FSMA also grants the FDA the power to conduct mandatory recalls, to demand increased record keeping, and to detain products and suspend food production.

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WHO DOES THE FDA REGULATE? HOW DO THEY DO IT?

The Food and Drug Administration is a branch of the US Department of Health and Human Services that is responsible for protecting public health by regulating and supervising food safety, medicines, animal feed, veterinary medications, and cosmetics. The FDA has field offices in each state, and has the authority to inspect any facility in which food is manufactured, processed, packed or stored. The FDA must ask for permission to enter a facility, but if denied, inspectors may obtain a search warrant. FDA inspectors may photograph a facility during an inspection, unless explicitly told not to, and must be provided with an employee to answer any questions that may arise during inspection.

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WHO DOES FSIS REGULATE? HOW DO THEY DO IT?

The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is an agency of the US Department of Agriculture that is responsible for regulating commercial meat, poultry, and eggs. Nearly 8000 FSIS inspectors are assigned to slaughter and processing facilities across the country. FSIS inspectors have continual access to the facilities they regulate, and have the authority to examine live animals and carcasses, as well as a facility’s systems for temperature control, sanitation, and prevention of microbial contamination.

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I’M A RESTAURANT REGULATED BY THE CITY HEALTH INSPECTOR, BUT I’M MAKING CHARCUTERIE AND/OR USING SOUS VIDE COOKING METHODS. WHO REGULATES ME?

In a restaurant setting, house-made charcuterie and sous vide are still regulated by the Health Department, but to produce them for public sale and consumption, your facility needs a validated HACCP plan to get a Food Code variance.

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WHY SHOULD MY BUSINESS BE HACCP CERTIFIED?

In addition to ensuring the production of safe food, creating a HACCP plan helps systematize your business, increasing efficiency and minimizing waste. A written plan sets expectations for your employees, helping to maintain quality control. Once a HACCP plan is in place, your products will meet the food safety standards set by most distributors, allowing you to expand your market.

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I TOOK A HACCP CLASS. IS THAT ENOUGH TO BE CONSIDERED HACCP CERTIFIED?

Taking a HACCP class is the first step, and for a HACCP plan to be implemented, management must have completed a class. Once you’re familiar with the principles of HACCP, you can begin to craft your HACCP plan, making sure to complete all of the pre-requisite programs.

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ONCE MY HACCP PLAN IS WRITTEN, THEN WHAT?

Once your HACCP plan is written, and your company’s management has completed a HACCP training course, your HACCP plan must be validated and audited by a disinterested third party. Validation ensures that the critical control points that you’ve identified—the points in the system where contamination is most likely to occur—are accurate, and that all the steps have been identified to minimize hazards. Dirigo Food Safety offers third party audits, and can also perform validation studies. Keep in mind that a HACCP plan is a living document, and once it’s been implemented, it needs to be revisited regularly to make sure that it stays current.

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WHAT ARE GAP AND GHP?

Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) and Good Handling Practices (GHP) are voluntary audits created by the USDA that verify that fruits and vegetables are grown, handled, packed, and stored as safely as possible. These audits ensure that commercial farm products comply with FSMA’s final rule on produce safety. Though it is not federally mandated, many produce buyers for retail stores now require GAP certification.

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WHAT IS SQF?

The Safe Quality Food (SQF) code was developed by the Safe Quality Food Institute to create one global food safety standard from farm to fork. In addition to food safety documentation, it includes an ethical sourcing code and management program, as well as a joint program with the American Feed Industry Association that promotes safe animal feed and food production. SQF also integrates quality control into its food safety program. Many larger distributors and retailers require SQF certification, in addition to HACCP. Dirigo Food Safety’s pre-requisite programs are written in compliance with SQF guidelines, ensuring a seamless transition to SQF certification.

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MY BUSINESS IS HACCP CERTIFIED, BUT I WANT TO EXPAND MY MARKET. CAN YOU HELP ME WITH SQF?

Yes. Dirigo Food Safety’s documentation is all SQF compliant, and our team is well versed in the SQF code.

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I’M A SMALL BUSINESS, AND THIS ALL SOUNDS VERY EXPENSIVE. I KNOW THAT MY PRODUCTS ARE MADE SAFELY, AND THEY AREN’T MAKING ANYONE SICK. WHY SHOULD I INVEST IN FOOD SAFETY TRAINING?

Since the Food Safety and Modernization Act (FSMA) was signed into law in 2011, the landscape of food safety has become increasingly regulated. Violations are taken more seriously by regulators, and severe negligence is now criminally prosecuted. Furthermore, high profile outbreaks of food borne illness have raised public awareness of the issue. Documented food safety plans give you and your customers reassurance that you’re doing everything right, and a plan of action if a recall is ever necessary.

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Yes. Dirigo Food Safety’s documentation and food safety training can be used in cannabis production. All the principles of food safety can be applied to cannabis—from GAP (Good Agricultural Practices) to HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points).

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Dirigo Food Safety

189 Main Street

Yarmouth, ME 04096

U.S.A

207.517.3920

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