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#1 Franco

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Posted 10 June 2003 - 02:44 PM

Dear Simon,
I was wondering why You're using a blade control record. :o
I think it's because You want to control the risk of contamination of your product, isn't it ?
Please excuse me if the question is trivial, but it's quite unusual for our habits.


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An ancient Chinese proverb teaches that the person who waits for a roast duck to fly into their mouth must wait a very long time.

#2 Simon

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Posted 10 June 2003 - 04:11 PM

Hi Franco,

You do realise this is my 100th post so it had better be good. I think I get an extra blue block next to my name now. Wow!

I had my usual sandwich for lunch today, it was one of those really satisfying pre-packed ones with the nifty cellophane seal, you know the ones, they help to build the appetite to a crescendo whilst you are trying desperately to get in them.

Anyway by 3.00 p.m. I was in and savouring the fresh bread and delicious processed cheese filling…

Imagine seven weeks earlier when the sandwich was being prepared. The sandwich maker would have been busy spreading margarine onto dozens of loaves of bread and applying the wafer thin pieces of cheese with delicate precision. The production line is super-efficient with the SM's working like robots with speed and minimum movement between bread, margarine, cheese and packaging.

Imagine one week earlier when the packaging was produced. The operator would have been collating thousands of triangular sandwich packs into stacks and placing them into cardboard boxes for delivery to our sandwich maker. Imagine the same operator using his Stanley knife the type with multiple snap-off blades, he's cutting the loose tape when suddenly a blade snaps off and disappears, the operator has a quick look but he's tired, bored and it's nearly home time.

Back at the ranch it's 3.01 p.m. and I've now got a forked tongue…

Sorry about that but I was just demonstrating a chain of events that could occur. Agreed the likelihood is very, very small but the severity is very, very high.

Hazard Analysis / HACCP is about ensuring that the above can not happen or is reduced to the smallest risk possible by determining the food safety hazards and implementing appropriate control measures.

The BRC/IoP Packaging Standard has a requirement for hazard analysis and also has specific requirements for blade control - ''snap-off' blades are a very big no-no and for category 'B' suppliers a comprehensive blade control system is required.

If the packaging manufacturer in the above farce had such a comprehensive blade control system in place it would have been a requirement for the operator to report the loss of the blade, which would probably initiate a detailed search for the blade, maybe production would need to be stopped and material segregated. If necessary a product recall would be considered.

I know you are in the drinks industry Franco, what types of food safety controls (blades etc.) are required by your industry?

By the way I had Sirloin Steak for lunch.
;)
Regards,
Simon


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#3 Franco

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Posted 11 June 2003 - 06:14 AM

Dear Simon,

thanks for clear explanation. I thought that the reason could be that, but I would prefer to hear it directly from You.

I didn't know it was a BRC/IoP requirement for packaging manufacturers.

Spirits industry has different requirements. Brittle glass particles are our main packaging problem. We have a procedure to treat this situation. Sometimes We have to destroy layers of empty bottles because of the risk of contamination and We do it. The situation can be more complicated when bottles are decorated, vernished or iced on the outer surface because many different processes of many different suppliers interacts with each other.

And they have one common feature: they are low-added value processes.

Traceability is also difficult to ensure in these cases.

I must admit our blue collars are non so sensitive to that procedure, I would say they are not committed to quality at all. :( We, I mean Quality Department, have to keep attention to that kind of problems.

What about Your operators ? Do they usually fill in that Blade Control form ? I suppose they or their supervisor do. Are they involved in quality assurance ? Do they really cooperate ? Are they aware of their responsibilities ?

I think I'm going to ask You more questions about the downloadable documentation of Saferpak. It's very interesting and helpful.

Thanks in advance. Regards. Franco


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#4 Simon

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Posted 11 June 2003 - 08:10 AM

Morning Franco,

Thanks for the interesting info; it's nice to hear about other industries. When you talk about 'blue collars' I bet they would be interested if a consumer came knocking on their door with a court order in their hand (it might cost them so money) - very frustrating! By the way the contamination control section of the BRC/IoP Packaging Standard includes requirements for glass and brittle plastic control also.

In answer to your questions our blade control system works like this:

- operators are issues with a knife engraved with a unique code (4 types of knife)
- the issue is logged on master knife control record and signed for by operator
- when operator requires new blade they have to exchange for old with supervisor
- again they have to sign for receipt on blade control record
- all blades (new/old) are kept in a locked cupboard - access only to supervisors
- old blades are disposed of in sharps bin
- loss of blade results in the stop and search procedure

It may seem like a lot of effort and it did cost a few hundred pounds to set up for the whole factory as each department has it's own locker and knives etc; but believe it or not the system runs really smoothly now. You may think that blades would be being issued every five minutes but in reality it may be none, one or two per shift, per department. Of course there's a chance that they are not always filling the documents in - but we've been through this at audits, it's pretty well in place now.

Going back to the BRC/IoP Packaging Standard there is a requirement for training to be provided to all relevant staff in the avoidance and detection of foreign bodies. Our operators are well-versed in these requirements as we carry out contamination control training for all operators, this training forms part of induction for new employees - after 1 months employment when they understand the process / product a bit. This awareness and understanding helps to create the co-operation you talk about.

At one time, before we had a blade control system operators used to bring their own knives and the factory would be littered with them. If a customer complained because a blade was in his product we would have no way of knowing where it came from or be able to prove that it wasn't us. For a blade control system to work standard equipment must be provided, operators must be trained and the system must be audited.

Yes our operators are involved in QA; in fact all quality control is built into the process and is carried out by operators and supervisors. :P The quality department is not involved except in the case of a query or problem.

Finally why not ask your packaging suppliers / decorators to work, where appropriate to the requirements of the BRC/IoP Packaging Standard, even if they do not intend to go for full certification. The standard has been translated into Italian.

See available languages here

Regards,
Simon


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Simon Timperley
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Need food safety advice?
Relax, you've come to the right place…

The IFSQN is a helpful network of volunteers providing answers and support. Check out the forums and get free advice from the experts on food safety management systems and a wide range of food safety topics.

 
We could make a huge list of rules, terms and conditions, but you probably wouldn’t read them.

All that we ask is that you observe the following:


1. No spam, profanity, pornography, trolling or personal attacks

2. Topics and posts should be “on topic” and related to site content
3. No (unpaid) advertising
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5. Enjoy your stay!





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