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Food quality control

Fresh produce & food quality control has never been easier for packer, food manufacturer, processors and wholesalers of fruit & vegetable


Flexible fresh produce quality control software can be used to reduce the incorrect categorization of fresh produce as waste, leading to higher pack shed profits and more consistent quality, with improved customer satisfaction. FarmSoft manages fresh produce businesses from end to end, providing a comprehensive fresh produce business management solution.

Reduce fresh produce losses by QC analysis of produce that has been discarded as “waste” to ensure waste product is indeed within the specification of waste.


quality control fresh produce
Quality control for fresh produce

QC for fresh produce

Manage customer complaints for fresh produce: track comments, customer feedback, photos, and resolutions provided when a complaint is made. Trace complaints back to the supplier or your own block/crop/patch/batch.

Supplier quality management: monitor and manage quality from each supplier, receive supplier quality alerts, track quality issues back to suppliers batches, plots, and blocks.

Configure unlimited quality control programs, including specific programs for produce, variety, customer, or finished product. Flexibly add your own fields and options to tests as required.

Tests can be for almost anything, such as testing incoming produce, outgoing produce, pre pack, pre graded produce, factory cleanliness test, employee performance, task quality control etc. You can define the subject (thing) that you are testing as virtually anything

Each test can be a pass/fail, or value range style test (ie: where results must be within the range of two numbers, or above or below a number), weighted score, or percent of sample

Automatically send alerts to selected employees if a specific test fails or passes (a copy of the entire test results are sent with the email in a PDF)

Attach photos to the test (via your tablet, smartphone, or PC) and to the criteria for instruction

Tests can give users suggested “corrective actions” when there is a quality failure

Manually put produce on hold for further inspection

Each quality control program can be configured to have unlimited categories, each category can have unlimited tests (criteria)

Set the number of tests to make the entire test program fail

Set individual tests to make an entire test program fail

Set the number of tests in a Category to make the entire test program fail

Configure unlimited “classes” and “features” that can be assigned to inventory

Users can click on images for close ups and open documents attached to the test criteria, this is used to ensure quality officers always have access to the correct documentation for their work.

quality control fruit vegetable
food quality control

There’s a lot that a company can and should do to keep their products up to consistent standards, and keep them safe and reliable for consumers. There are even basic ones that every company should know and implement with all of their products. While this list does not cover everything a company should do to keep their products safe, it does lay a basic groundwork.

1. Ingredient Specifications

A final product can only be as good as the raw materials and ingredients put into it. Therefore, the best starting point is developing ingredient specifications. Make sure to review all information and modify the specifications as needs change. It’s also important to discuss and settle these specifications with the supplier. The ingredient specifications should be documented to maintain consistency. Ingredient specifications documentation should include at minimum: names of ingredients, vital product attributes, and important dates, but may require more information. This is all to assure that the supplier has not changed the materials or standards.

2. Approved Supplier List

For each ingredient, it’s a good idea to have an approved supplier list that is available to individuals responsible for purchasing and quality control. The approved supplier list should contain at least the following information: ingredient name and internal code; supplier name, address, phone number and other key contact info; trade name of ingredient; and supplier code number.

3. Product Formulation/Recipe

Every food product should have a written documentation of the formula or recipe and be available for use as a means to assure consistency between batches, lots, and even days of production. For highly confidential formulas, the production worker does not need all the details and a simplified recipe can be put in place to assure that the product information stays secret.

4. Product Standards

One of the most important tools to assure quality in a finished product is the product standard document. Product standards are defined by the physical, chemical and microbiological characteristics of the final product. Physical characteristics including size, shape, dimensions, weight, and volume are important, as are count per package or container, presence of fines, or any other special features which define the particular product.

Microbiological standards will depend on the specific food item. Food safety is the responsibility of the processor, so consider pathogens and foreign materials when developing product standards. Make sure rejection criteria for each product and acceptable methodology for determining these are established. Your base minimum rejection standards are based on regulatory requirements and practical production experience.

5. Manufacturing Procedures

There should be a documented method of the processing procedures to ease duplication from lot to lot, shift to shift and day to day. There are several key points to consider when identifying the important processing operations such as time, temperature, equipment required, order of addition for ingredients, and weight. After the product is prepared, make manufacturing procedures or portions of the procedures available to production employees.

6. In-Process Records

Another area that QWerks specializes in is in-process record keeping. It is important to know what is happening with the product during the manufacturing process. Both the quality control and production personnel should participate in daily maintenance logs.

Things such as product weight, temperature, size and shape, ingredient usage, product yield, scrap or waste, material balance and rework are examples of things that need to be measured during the manufacturing process. The basin-process measurements used in each operation are called Critical Control Points.

Keeping track of critical control points is important because small differences, changes or mistakes can cause the finished product to be a health hazard, unsafe, and costly to the business. Critical control points may be self-imposed or defined by regulation when public health or product identity are of concern. In-process record keeping can be done manually or by an automatic operation, and in some cases both. It is also important to make adjustments to the in-process records.

7. Packaging and Labeling

All quality control programs should include packaging and labeling, after all the first items that influence the consumer are the package and the label. There are two basic packages necessary for food products: The primary package and the secondary package. The primary package encloses the food and has direct contact with the product; typically, a film, jar, bottle, carton or box. The secondary package is used to hold together multiple packaged food items for shipment and is meant to provides protection.

Packaging is selected and designed based upon the needs of that particular food item. Regardless of the design of the packaging, the law requires product name, ingredient statement, and manufacturing or distribution location to be on the package. Other government regulations include the size of type or printing and for the overall graphs to represent the contents of the container.

8. Good Manufacturing Practices and Sanitation

There are federal regulations called Good Manufacturing Procedures (GMPs) that define specific procedures meant to minimize the contamination of food products by those in manufacturing, processing, packaging, and warehousing facilities. GMPs are an integral part of quality control- this is where QWerks could do the most good for your company.

It is the responsibility of food business management and ownership to ensure that GMPs are carried out by employees. Along with GMPs, a regular cleaning and sanitizing program is essential to preventing contamination.

9. Warehousing

Warehousing involves three activities: receiving, storage and shipping.

Receiving

Some basic guidelines for incoming shipments are:

  1. The storage space should clean and consistent with the first-in-first-out (FIFO) or first-expiring-first-out (FEFO) rotation principle.
  2. Before unloading materials, inspect the condition of the trailer. If it doesn’t meet standards, reject the load.
  3. Collect random samples from the shipment to analyze or evaluate the samples to make sure they meet specifications.
  4. After unloading, inspect the condition of the trailer and materials.
  5. If the shipment does not meet specifications, be prepared to reject all or part of the load.

Storage

If the product isn’t stored properly, it can impact the quality of the product. The product should be stored in an orderly manner under the proper conditions necessary to maintain quality.

Shipping

Shipping is the last step in which food businesses have direct control over product quality. Ship items on a FIFO/FEFO basis and use the same guidelines in shipping that were set up in receiving.

10. Laboratory Analysis

Laboratory analysis is the part of the quality control program that is implemented after the product is produced. The samples that will be tested in this phase should be random and pulled out regularly for every batch. For some analyses, very simple methods are used in the laboratory, while other methods are more complicated and require specialized equipment.

All laboratory analyses should be performed in a room away from the processing area. If there is not space for a separate area, there are other ways to obtain laboratory analysis results from outside, independent labs or from a combination of in-house and independent testing.

A qualified individual should conduct all analyses and report the results to ensure they are in line with quality control standards. All test results should be recorded and compared to the product specifications and standards. Failure to meet these standards should be communicated so that additional action can be taken if necessary.

11. Recall Plan

Even the best-laid plans often go awry, and it’s important to be prepared for the worst-case scenario. A product recall is when a company has to bring back product from the distribution system. Whether the product recall was the result of voluntary action by a business firm or involuntary action due to Food and Drug Administrative (FDA) action, an unorganized recall process could ruin a business’ public image.

There are three classification as best described by the FDA for a recall:

  1. A Class I product recall is the most urgent type of recall that the FDA will issue. In a FDA Class I Recall, there is significant and immediate danger of death or other serious injury from the use of the product being recalled.
  2. A Class II product recall is an intermediate threat level recall. A Class II recall is issued where there is no immediate danger of death or other serious injury linked to the product, but the risk of death or a serious injury is still present.
  3. A Class III product recall is the least serious type of recall. A Class II recall is typically issued when there is no immediate or perceived danger of any health issues, but items have been released that are in violation of FDA regulations.
  4. All recall plans should be developed and communicated to appropriate individuals within the firm before any crises arise. All plans should at minimum include:
  5. A product coding system that is simple, yet broad enough to minimize financial loss.
  6. A record keeping system to identify and associate specific products, product codes, carriers, destinations, personnel and their assigned responsibilities for a recall.
  7. A strong communication system within the company.
  8. Established procedures for evaluating and correcting the situation.

Remember, a recall program is an insurance policy and will not prevent the adverse situation from occurring. Food quality is an expectation from consumers.

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COSTS/BENEFITS OF MICROBIAL ORIGIN

Jill E. Hobbs, William A. Kerr, in Encyclopedia of Food Microbiology, 1999

The Costs of Quality Control

Food quality control problems arising from microbial agents encompass two main cost issues. The first is the absolute cost of food quality control relative to the total cost of food. The second relates to who bears those costs. In the case of the latter, three broad groups can be identified: the food industry, government and consumers (broadly defined to include their significant role in the home preservation and preparation of food). The food industry makes substantial expenditures to ensure the quality of food. Governments take considerable responsibility for establishing food safety standards and for inspection (everything from meat inspectors in slaughter plants to visits to restaurant kitchens). Despite all of these efforts, the main line of defence, as it were, against many food-borne diseases is the consumer preparing food in the home. The simple precautions taken to cook meat adequately, for example, form the major defence against the health hazard posed by Salmonella. In a similar fashion, home food preservation methods such as canning, pickling, and latterly, home freezing, can constitute a significant proportion of the resources expended by a society to maintain the quality of food. Of course, in the past when food supply chains were shorter and simpler – when home-produced food on farms constituted the major portion of the society's diet and most food transactions took place at local markets – food quality maintenance activities were almost entirely the responsibility of the consumer. This is still the case in many developing countries. As technology changed and food supply chains lengthened when countries developed, more and more of the responsibility for food quality maintenance fell on firms. As it is often very difficult to isolate the source of food-borne disease, and therefore difficult to prove liability, governments increasingly became involved in ensuring the maintenance of food quality in order to protect consumers better. Cost efficiencies relating to prevention in processing plants and the strategic use of individuals with scientific knowledge (relative to the cost of broad-based scientific education of consumers) moved food safety firmly into the public realm.

food quality control
food control

High-performance capillary electrophoresis for food quality evaluation

Adele Papetti, Raffaella Colombo, in Evaluation Technologies for Food Quality, 2019

14.8.7.2 Beer

Food quality control of beer samples is generally performed by GC techniques for sensory and chemical evaluation of beer aroma and analysis of pesticide residues, or by LC methods applied for the detection of amino acids, gluten peptides, phenolic acids, aldehydes, and contaminants [230]. The application of CE still remains limited. It has been proposed for the detection and quantification of amino acids playing a significant role in beer fermentation, flavor, and quality, but because their content is low, derivatization was necessary to overcome amino acid sensitivity limits. CE methods with in-capillary derivatization have been suggested [229]. A known method of coordinating interaction between amino acids and copper ions has been proposed to obtain direct monitoring of amino acids content without derivatization with an online preconcentration step followed by CZE-UV [230].

As previously reported, in wine, beer, and in all fermented products, biogenic amines represent important food toxics. Direct rapid and sensitive methods without derivatizations and using CZE-UV [231] or CCE-UV [232] are present in the literature.

In addition, CE can also be applied for the detection of α-acids and β-acids in hops and iso-α-acids in beer. Hops are prone to oxidation and deterioration, and storage conditions are the main factors affecting these processes, thus creating these acids, which cause changes in beer flavor [233].

The development of CE methods suitable for the rapid detection of organic acids (oxalic, tartaric, formic, citric, malic, lactic, succinic, acetic), important compounds for taste, flavor, and aroma of beverages (see also wine), as well as for monitoring the fermentation process needs the addition of a chromophore to BGE [219].



food quality control
food quality control

Quality Assurance in the Food Industry– Defect Prevention

Quality assurance (QA) is a set of activities for ensuring quality in the processes by which products are developed. It’s a proactive process and aims to prevent defects by concentrating on the process used to make the product. The goal of QA is to improve development and test processes so that defects don’t arise when the product’s being developed.

QA can be achieved by establishing a good quality management system and assessing its adequacy. What’s more, everyone on the team involved in developing a product is responsible for quality assurance.

Quality Control in the Food Industry– Defect Identification

Quality control (QC) is a set of activities for ensuring quality in products by identifying defects in the actual products produced. It’s a reactive process and aims to identify (and correct) defects in finished products.

QC can be achieved by identifying and eliminating sources of quality problems to ensure customer’s requirements are continually met. It involves the inspection aspect of quality management and is typically the responsibility of a specific team tasked with testing products for defects.

So, in light of these explanations, does food x-ray inspection equipment provide quality assurance or quality control in the food industry?

The answer is both!

Food X-ray Inspection Equipment Provides Quality Assurance and Quality Control in the Food Industry

The ability of x-ray inspection systems to provide unsurpassed detection of a wide range of physical contaminants, including metal, glass, mineral stone, calcified bone and high-density plastics, means they can be used to keep contaminants out of the production process, as well as catch contaminants before products leave the factory. It simply depends on where they’re located in the production process – the critical control points (CCPs). To learn how to determine where to best place these critical control points on your production line watch this short on-demand webinar.

Because x-ray inspection machines can be used at various control points on a production line, its installment can strengthen both quality control and quality assurance for a manufacturer. X-ray systems that are most commonly found at the end of the production line are used to identify defects before products are dispatched and sent to the retailer or distributor. In addition to inspecting for physical contaminants, systems are widely used to perform additional quality control checks such as measuring mass, counting components, identifying missing or broken products, monitoring fill levels and inspecting seals for food entrapment.

Food x-ray inspection equipment installed earlier in the production process can inspect the product before being processed such as raw ingredients, bulk-flow (loose) products or pumped products. When used at one of these critical control points, the systems help provide quality assurance by preventing defects in final products.

Furthermore, the ability of food x-ray inspection equipment to store large amounts of data means they provide quality assurance by identifying trends and bettering overall traceability of incidents that could occur on a production line and instigating preventive actions. Read how Dure Foods used food inspection equipment for quality assurance by tracing all their products along their production line.


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