This may be a little long winded, but I am having some difficulty with the physical & microbiological part of product specifications, sort of thinking out loud as I write.
We are a small manufacturer of frozen bread dough, frozen par-baked breads and fresh breads. Our frozen products are shipped to wholesale customers who distribute to their retail level stores, our fresh products are shipped to retail customers.
Our products are not considered RTE.
Our finished product specs are complete except for physical and microbiological standards, which we never established.
Our customers do not set specifications for products, so we have never had to document meeting customer specs and no one has ever asked about them.
We just passed out first HACCP and GMP certification. I was dinged 5 points for not having all the specifications for raw materials, ingredients and packing material (due to time restraints, I did not have time to get them all but am working on that)
Nothing was mentioned about physical or microbiological standards missing on finished product specs.
We have HACCP plan, GMP’s, Pre-requisite programs, use approved suppliers, COA (for bulk flour only at this time) perform ATP and allergen specific swab tests, etc. which in combination should eliminate contamination's but I believe the product specs should still have the standards. If we go for higher certification it will be necessary and it is only a matter of time before our larger customers request more QA documentation so I want to have my ducks in row.
My questions (finally)……
To establish the physical standards I would send samples to a lab for analysis. The results will go onto the finished product specs. Correct or is there another way?
To establish micro standards do I also send samples to a lab or just use industry standard limits?
Would we need to test finished product to prove they meet the physical and/or micro standards and if so how often?
It would not be feasible for us to hold product for several days to a week waiting for test results. Unless there is some type of rapid test we could do in house without a lab, or the testing would only be necessary yearly, I do not know how we would accomplish the testing.
Again.. I hope this makes sense and thanks in advance for any help.