The updated BRCGS Issue nine brings heightened focus to a critical aspect of food safety: minimising foreign body contamination (FBC)  . Clause 4.9 covers the more standard and frequently known contaminants, but the new clause 4.9.6.3 delves beyond the realm of readily detectable metal fragments and hairnets, demanding proactive measures against an array of potentially hazardous elements. Embracing this clause isn't just about compliance; it's about safeguarding consumer trust and building an unwavering commitment to quality control.

Beyond the usual suspects

Clause 4.9.6.3 compels manufacturers to move beyond the traditional FBC’s and address emerging threats. These include things such as:

Packaging and stationary

Fragmented cardboard, staples and paperclips are just some of the contaminants that can easily find their way into the product if processes aren’t robust. Control processes of what enters the production area, plus regular evaluations of packaging materials need to be implemented to reduce FBC risk

Maintenance and toolboxes

Everything from broken equipment parts to nuts and bolts can be a hazard if adequate tracking procedures aren’t put in place. Operational toolboxes are moved throughout the production area and if the contents aren’t monitored correctly, then FBC issues can arise. Designated controls on what can and can’t enter production must be implemented, along with clear labelling on what items a toolbox should and should not contain.

Cleaning equipment

Cleaning cloths, drying materials, etc need to be accounted for with regular inspections and condition checks to ensure no shedding will / has occurred. Cleaning equipment would benefit from shadow boards to enable consistent placement and accountability.

Building a comprehensive foreign body control toolkit

Clause 4.9.6.3 compels a shift from mere checklist-ticking to establishing a robust FBC control system. Here's how to fortify your defences:

Granular risk assessment

Map your entire operation, identifying and meticulously evaluating every potential source of FBC. This granular approach leaves no stone unturned, ensuring comprehensive protection. 

Tailored mitigation strategies

Don't apply a one-size-fits-all approach. Craft specific procedures for each identified risk, invest in targeted technology like vision inspection systems for packaging materials and train your team to recognise and address each unexpected threat

Traceability  

Your tracking ally: Ensure impeccable product traceability throughout your supply chain. This empowers swift containment and minimises damage in case of FBC incidents, safeguarding both consumers and your brand reputation.

Documentation excellence

Maintain clear, up-to-date documentation of your risk assessments, mitigation strategies, incident response plans, and employee training programs. This not only demonstrates your commitment to transparency but also streamlines audit processes.

Transparency: your ally in building trust

Transparency image

Clause 4.9.6.3 presents an opportunity to not just meet compliance but to exceed expectations by fostering transparency and building trust with stakeholders. Having a robust food safety culture in your business is the first step in receiving buy in for enhanced FBC protocols.

Any new FBC policies and procedures must be clearly communicated to your operatives, hygiene teams and, perhaps most importantly, the auditors. Being transparent about the FBC risks to your business and the dedicated efforts you are taking to negate them will only be a positive on your next audit.

Traceability can be your biggest ally. Having clear traceability systems in place for all potential risk factors can show auditors that you are able to take swift and decisive action in case of any FBC incident. Logging everything that comes into the production area, in toolboxes and in cleaning kits can help you keep track of potential threats and leave a clear audit trail.

Auditors should be viewed as partners in your quest for food safety excellence. Proactively engaging with them through open communication can lead to better procedures and increase your audit readiness. Invite them to observe your FBC procedures and address any concerns openly and honestly.

Embrace the continuous journey

People in hair nets

Clause 4.9.6.3 compliance is a journey not a destination. 

Maintaining a healthy food safety culture in your business will not only help you stay audit-ready every day, but to be proactive in your risk management procedures and continuously look to improve and stay ahead of the curve.

By meticulously addressing the diverse risks posed by "other types" of FBC, embracing transparency, and prioritising continuous improvement, food processors can transform Clause 4.9.6.3 from a compliance requirement into a powerful platform for building trust, delivering exceptional food safety and solidifying their reputation as champions of quality.

Helping you stay audit ready every day

It’s not just auditors that can prove to be effective partners in the fight against FBC’s.

With the advent of Clause 4.9.6.3, here at Teknomek we decided to do what we do best and provide our customers with the very latest in hygienic furniture and equipment solutions to help you stay audit ready every day.

Working with industry leaders, including experienced auditors, we have come up with an elegant solution to the FBC problem.

The 304L-grade stainless steel box is designed to provide food processing companies with a process solution for controlling the risks of FBC.  The box, which measures 252mm w x 96mm d x 186mm h, provides a central receptacle where any foreign bodies discovered within the food production area can be placed.  With a removable tray, the contents of the box can be easily removed, investigated, and route cause analysis undertaken to minimise further incidences and prevent further non-conformances.

Manufacturing the box from 304L stainless steel not only ensures it is easy to clean and maintain, but also ensures the box itself won’t become a source of FBC’s.

To find out more about our Foreign body control box or to get to know Teknomek and our hygiene principles, take a look across our website, or contact our customer service team on +44 (0)1603 788 833.