A privately-owned ready-to-eat (RTE) fruit and vegetable processor in South Carolina was struggling to maintain consistency in overall cleanliness and food safety audit performance. High levels of yeast and mold were growing inside the facility due to inconsistent and ineffective cleaning processes. There were also dangerous cross contamination practices by its in-house sanitation staff.
The processors vendor at the time offered little support and had no guidance regarding training or specialty chemistries to help support their master sanitation program to help solve the issue. Management realized the extent of the challenges and the opportunity for significant improvement, so they were motivated to make the changes necessary and invest in a new reliable partner.
The produce processor was impressed by PSSI’s depth of services and had a positive previous experience with its Safe Foods Chemical Innovations team that provided intervention services in the past. Safe Foods had collaborated on in-plant chemistry and equipment trials, but the processor realized they needed more in-depth support with sanitation training and chemical expertise.
PSSI scheduled an initial meeting to observe and understand the processor’s existing process. Our team walked the floor with a sanitation supervisor so we could better understand their objectives and expectations. We also took note of the chemistries in use, dosing equipment, sanitation records, and safety concerns.
Upon our review, we noticed two primary opportunities to improve overall plant cleanliness and hygiene. First, we implemented in-depth employee training on correct cleaning processes following our proven 8-Steps of Sanitation approach and strict new standard operating procedures that would greatly reduce the odds of cross-contamination. Second, we recommended alternative chemical products better suited to plant soil type and the addition of some periodic specialty chemistries to the sanitation program. This included the use of Peracetic Acid, which was a much more effective chemistry than the previous product being used.
The introduction of the new chemical products and the application of strategic cleaning techniques have yielded very positive results. The produce processor achieved a remarkable log reduction of 1 in yeast and mold levels within our facility. The implementation of Peracetic Acid proved to be a secure and efficient choice that has improved food safety within the workplace. Additionally, there has been a notable 14% decline in failed environmental tests within the facility.
These achievements not only helped with regulatory compliance, but they contributed to significant gains in product quality, production efficiency and employee safety throughout the facility.
“Most of all, I have valued the customer support from PSSI. They listened to understand our needs and developed a solution tailored specifically to them. No cookie-cutter ideas or approaches, just results.”
– Produce Plant Manager