Guide to Food Ingredient & Additive Storage
- Food storage: basic do's and don'ts
Clear labeling of chemicals and additives is vital for safe storage. Properly labeling or marking containers helps to identify the contents in each container. This is one of the simplest and most important steps you can take to increase food additive storage safety. Every business should have an organized system for labeling and categorizing goods. This system should be accessible and usable by all responsible team members.
It is important to ensure every team member who has access to the substances should understand and follow all instructions from the manufacturer. One should always use and store food chemicals and additives as directed by the manufacturer following applicable guidelines, rules, and regulations put in place by regulatory agencies.
You also need to consider the environment where food additives are stored. Extreme temperatures, either low or high, may affect product safety or quality. Some food ingredients may require different temperatures than others, resulting in the need for separate storage. Overall, the environment in which food additives are stored should be maintained at low humidity to prevent both excess moisture and damage to products.
Pests have the potential to be a big problem for areas where food additives are stored. Implementing a pest control program is vital for food additive storage areas to avoid damage to products and compromised sanitary environments. Pests can track substances around, causing contamination and mixing of different materials. Storage areas must be maintained at all times to ensure a clean and sanitary condition free of pests. If there are any sightings, they should be addressed as quickly as possible and all products should be inspected for damage. All contaminated or damaged items should be properly disposed.
In the event of a spill, be sure to clean up and dispose of the food chemical properly according to OSHA guidelines. Properly dispose of spills in appropriately labeled containers. Never attempt to put a spilled chemical back into the container and do not reuse spilled materials.
- Keeping incompatible substances separate
An important factor to consider is storing food-grade additives separately from conventional materials to avoid cross contamination. This also prevents accidental spillage of conventional chemicals into food products, which could potentially be dangerous. Ingredients in food must always be labeled, since unknowingly adding something presents problems — especially if that substance could be labeled as an allergen.
Food additives need to be stored based on associated allergens. If an allergen accidentally comes in contact with another product, the non-allergen could become contaminated and cause an unexpected allergic reaction, which poses a serious safety risk. In some cases, even trace amounts of an allergen can cause a reaction.
Labels provide critical information to ensure proper storage of food additives. Containers may look but contain different chemicals or additives used for various industries. All team members should pay extra attention to the details on each container label.
Keeping incompatible chemicals separated is crucial to maintaining a safe storage environment since mixture and/or cross contamination of chemicals can cause severe injuries and damages. You can find more information about incompatible chemicals through reputable resources for product storage protocols, such as: OSHA’s Safety Data Sheets (SDS), the FDA, and current good manufacturing practices (cGMP).
Always be sure you know who is coming in and out of your building. Access to chemicals should always be kept secured and limited to only authorized and trained personnel. Authorized personnel should be knowledgeable about the substances used in the facility, how to identify potential problems or signs of damage, and what to do in case of spills or other issues.
The security of food additives is critical to prevent intentional adulteration or tampering. Security measures should be in place to clearly identify employees, such as the use of uniforms, name tags, badges, and access control. Forms of identification should be displayed at all times and collected from personnel once they are no longer associated with your organization.
All companies working with chemicals should have developed and defined a set of safety procedures. Although the FDA recommends these plans should be kept confidential, all staff should be aware of what to do in case of a potential spill or contamination and know how to identify tampering and potential mix-ups. Planning for these types of situations is crucial for security and is much more effective than having to come up with a plan quickly in the middle of an emergency.
All personnel should be trained on handling chemical substances and follow the required safety procedures. When handling food additives, one must adhere to current good manufacturing practices (cGMP) set by the FDA, follow good personal hygiene, and report any contagious illnesses. Personnel should always wash their hands after they come into contact with chemicals for their own health and safety and to avoid spreading the substance around.
Personal items should be stored in a designated area away from the product storage area. Medicine and food should not be allowed in any storage areas, as they may potentially become contaminated. Accidentally mixing food, medicine, or allergens with a substance such as a food additive could have harmful consequences. In some facilities, all staff may need to keep personal items in a specific designated area such as an office area, break room, locker room, or other employee area.
Responsible personnel should conduct regular inspections of facilities and chemical storage areas to ensure all guidelines are being followed. In some facilities, frequent random inspections by the facility itself may be the best way to implement effective inspections.
Visitors should be subject to similar safety measures and should always sign-in before entering a facility. Personal belongings should be inspected and, in some cases, left in a dedicated area. Lastly, visitors should not be permitted into storage areas without proper clearance or supervision.
Remember that any facility which manufactures, processes, packs, or stores food products intended for either human or animal consumption must register with the FDA according to U.S. law. Specifically, such a facility should be operating under good current good manufacturing practices as outlined by the FDA under 21 CFR regulations’.
Facilities storing food additives should always be secured to prevent contamination and tampering of products. Access to the building should be limited and secured with appropriate fencing, locks, or other security controls. Openings to storage areas should be kept to a minimum and should avoid placing them adjacent to the outdoors or parking areas if possible. This reduces the risk of contaminants entering the area and keeps chemicals more secure. Storage facilities should always be maintained in a clean and sanitary condition to prevent any possible contamination of products.
When operating a food facility, it’s critical to have an effective inventory tracking program to monitor what’s received from vendors and shipped to customers. All products should be from an approved vendor who meets the company and regulatory requirement before being approved.
It should be cleared with the vendors to have correct labels meeting all regulatory requirements before product is received. Responsible employees should always conduct appropriate inspections such as label checks, packaging, expiration dates, and package contents where appropriate before accepting a shipment.
Creating a vendor approval program can provide a standardized system for evaluating potential suppliers and deciding whom to work with. These programs often include methods for gathering information about potential vendors, assessing risk, and storing information about suppliers. Typically, a checklist is incorporated to help businesses determine whether they will work with a particular supplier and keep every department on the same page.
The FDA advises not to accept shipments not scheduled ahead of time and did not come with a valid explanation. Companies should also check if they received the amount of goods ordered and watch for items that may have been tampered with, products that could be counterfeit, activities that violate regulations and otherwise unlawful shipments.
If you are suspicious that any of these things may have occurred, you should promptly contact law enforcement.
- Organizing storage space
To facilitate safe storage, it’s important to maintain records of inventory activities throughout each step of the operation from receiving to shipping. You should know in advance how much of each item you’re going to need to store, so you can plan to have enough space and ensure the appropriate conditions are prepared.
Products should be assigned to a designated storage area to help with proper traceability and tracking. Proper segregation of allergen, potential hazards, and non-conformance products is important in any food facility. Unusable items should be discarded in accordance with regulations to prevent any potential hazards.
- Types of food additives
To help food industry professionals and consumers identify different food additives, regulatory agencies assign a numbering system to all food additives. Europe uses what it calls E numbers. The Codex Alimentarius Commission adopted Europe’s E number system and extended it to create an international standard for identifying both approved and unapproved additives. Under this system, each additive is assigned a number that can be used to identify it.
In the United States, food additives are identified by their Chemical Abstracts Service numbers. The FDA also lists them in the United States Code of Federal Regulations and assigns them designations such as generally recognized as safe (GRAS). The FDA keeps a list of more than 3,000 ingredients that are used in food.
Additives vary from natural substances used for many years, such as salt, to newer substances that are sometimes synthetic, such as artificial sweeteners. Additives can be divided into two major categories: direct and indirect.
Direct additives are added to food for a specific purpose, such as to preserve a food, add sweetness, or improve texture. This group of direct additives encompasses what the average consumer typically classifies as food additives.
Indirect additives are those that may end up in food in trace amounts but aren’t added to achieve a specific purpose. These substances can make their way into food when they’re used in storage, packaging, and other processes. However, the FDA must deem them safe before they can come into contact with food.
Color additives are another broad category of indirect additives, which contains anything put into food to enhance or change color. The FDA must certify synthetic color additives before they can be used in food & nutrition applications. There are presently nine certified color additives in the U.S. Color additives, which come from natural sources and are exempt from certification requirements.
Additives approved by the FDA can be stored near food since they have been deemed safe for use in food products. However, it’s important to remember all potential allergens need to be kept isolated to avoid contamination. Generally, additives that are derived from natural sources can be stored in the same general area, while synthetic ingredients can be more volatile. However, always follow the instructions of the manufacturer and federal food additive storage guidelines.
- Standards and regulations
Many regulatory agencies have outlined food chemical storage guidelines to govern the storage of food products.
The FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), which was signed into law in 2011, was the largest reform of U.S. food safety laws in recent times. FSMA puts an emphasis on preventing food contamination so there is less attention addressing food contamination which has already occurred.
Under this act, the FDA created a set of rules known as hazard analysis and risk-based preventive controls (HARPC), which replaced the hazard analysis and critical control points (HACCP) system. These new rules are meant to implement preventative measures rather than measures to control contamination, which is covered by the FSMA.
Organizations such as the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) have also created global standards and work to improve their standard systems throughout the world to increase food safety and consumer confidence. The use of these standards also simplifies food safety processes which makes them easier to understand and follow.
In order to ensure safety and reliability, Brenntag takes great care and precaution to follow all of these food additive storage guidelines with its life science materials, which include food, nutritional, pharmaceutical, and animal nutrition.