Is security obvious when certified?
Not rarely we are confronted with news concerning food scandals. Because of the extensive international food trade nowadays, recalls have become a radical and costly phenomenom. Not to mention the loss of image en credibility…
Technical plants, as used in the milk industry, often contain a lot of inox tubes. What risk are they to food safety? And in what way can those risks be limited as much as possible? Of course multiple standards apply, but how much security do they actually provide? Do they truly cover all safety risks?
What does the standard imply?
In practice we often see inox tubes being used of which the inner welding seam causes a cleaning treatment of 3 to 4 times a day. The roughness of this welding seam makes this necessary; the rougher, the more often the tubes have to be rinsed. But the more often rinsed, the faster a tube gets affected by corrosion. And since installations have to endure multiple decades, extra interim replacements of the tubes is necessary to avoid any risk.
The applied standards however don’t mention anything to avoid this phenomenon, while a smoother inner surface would lead to a substantial improvement! And the elimination of unnecessary downtime for cleaning could amply compensate the price difference…
Don’t these standards then lead to false security?
We ask Ad Cleijsen of Buro Cleijsen about this. Buro Cleijsen has been active in the field of certifications for 20 years now. Buro Cleijsen guides and advises businesses in how to cope with all the relevant laws and regulations when setting up, implement and simplify certifiable management systems. Like no one else he knows the world of food safety control for businesses that produce, trade or save stock of foods in any way.
The standards are not strict enough
Ad Cleijsen doesn’t like beating around the bush. And that goes for this subject too. “Quality management and food safety are completely going over the top these days” he argues. “Accountability has become the goal while we should be questioning ourselves if this still serves valuable market purposes or just the purpose of the consultant. Product specifications and information have to be meaningful and relevant and should not lead to additional questions.” According to Ad more and more systems are imposed by people who don’t have any practise in the field. “The confidence in the knowledge and skills of the specialists has to return.” That’s why he questions on what base the standards and specifications of inox tubes are written and which guarantees can be given. Because according to him the standards leave a lot of space to the tube suppliers.
“And to whose judgement will be delivered? And is what you get actually what you asked for?”
Pieter Verschuuren, managing director of Versinox: “What we often see in practise is that the used standards leave a lot of space and discussion when it comes to the welding methods or surface condition (f.i. bright annealing or pickling, whether or not on the in- or outside), roughness measurement and tolerances. Because of this, the end-customer is almost unable to compare different quotations and proposals where inox tubes are involved. He doesn’t exactly know what he is going to get…! This is the reason why often, together with the customer, additional specifications are determined with regard to surface condition, tolerances, wall thickness, ovality, etc. These specifications justify the customer’s needs much more than standards only. And just because all common standards in Europe were drafted by the tube manufacturers, doesn’t imply the guarantee for a good product. But often customers think it will be all right, just because it was stated in standard…!”
Declaration of conformity
“And what guarantees can you give then?” Ad Cleijsen questions. “Well, here it comes to our experience and insights” Pieter Verschuuren explains. “For those applications where standards don’t measure up, we meet the challenge to give guarantees for the additional specifications that we advise. Like for instance the laser welded tubes that are also used for milkevaporators. There is no such standard in dairy that states that during production welding sparks are not always intercepted. These sparks can fall into the tube and will cause problems like bacterial growth. We therefore sometimes advice a Tig-welded tube instead. Because of the lower welding speed, the tube is free of a pitted surface. Of course this type of tube is a little more expensive, but in the end you avoid serious problems and costs” according to Pieter. “Versinox is even glad to issue declarations of conformity for this.”
“And when you consider that half the world uses the standard tubes, it is a miracle that no more food scandals occur. And yes, that also applies for products that are on the market in western-Europe” Ad and Pieter remark collectively…
But what are the risks actually?
“The upscale in food production didn’t only bring good to us” Ad Cleijsen states. “Of course it has led to a decline of prices, but that’s just a part of the story.” He gives the example of the bakery that used be around the corner in his early days. “This man baked bread for about 700 customers that he actually knew. And his customers knew ”im too. But nowadays an industrial bakery produces up to 700.000 breads for customers he doesn’t know. “And with this upscaling comes an increased responsibility.”
“That’s because all customers should trust the fact that food safety is guaranteed.” He continues: “but people have become a bit more cautious and picky.” This is why the current development to more small scale producers can be explained, according to Ad. “We go back to knowing the people we buy from and to whom we can complain if something is wrong. So these entrepreneurs therefore feel themselves very responsible to check on quality. And they do so based on very practical starting points.”
Ad Cleijsen explains riskmanagement in food processing with an example, using the casualty pyramid.
If an incident would occur with one potential casualty, then 10 people would find themselves in Intensive Care. For this, a 100 people would end up in hospital and so on. If Versinox contributes to the riskmanagement with, for instance, 10% reduction in the bottom of the piramid with its advise, this means that higher up in the pyramid a tenfold reduction will be accomplished too. Eventually this will lead to 0 casualties and only one person in Intensive Care.
Risk analysis in food food safety
Because of the riskmanagement that Versinox accomplishes in the bottom of the pyramid, less inspections are needed, less problems occur and less risks are taken. Critical Control Points (CCP’s) can be eliminated from the organisation! Something that most food producing parties probably don’t realize, is that Versinox can contribute to the risk analysis in the food market in this way.