FSSAI’s Food Safety Management System Guide for Flour Milling Industries is applicable for food businesses involved in flour milling industries of the cereal and cereal products supply chain. The major activities in the milling industry comprise
- Procurement of grains from Mandi
- Transportation of the grains
- Grain Storage and Handling
- Blending/Quality Verification
- Packaging and Labelling
- Storage/Handling of finished product
All these activities have different processes and so the FSMS guide must be used in accordance with applicable operations.
ESTABLISHMENT – DESIGN AND FACILITIES
In order to get safe flour from a flour mill the inputs like wheat, processes like cleaning, storing and milling and final products like flour should be defined by evaluating in terms of food safety. The condition of raw material and process and then the risks during the processing stages should be determined.
The flour mill shall be located away from anything that poses a threat of contamination like
- dust, smoke, stagnant water, etc
- environmental pollution, industrial activities
- sanitary landfills, incinerators, junkyards and service depots
- pest infestations and rodent entry areas
- areas that have contamination from trucks, vehicles, forklifts or by foot
- areas where animals like dogs and cats can enter a facility
- flood prone areas
Premises and rooms
The layout of the food establishment must ensure there
- is no cross contamination food preparation/manufacturing processes
storage and processing areas should be enclosed so there is no exposure to the external environment
- separation of raw from processed areas
- Conveyors and openings used for transfer of materials shall be designed to minimize cross-contamination from foreign matter, pests, etc.
- loading and unloading must be built to prevent grains from rainwater contamination
- grouting for piping, conduits, conveyors, vents etc. and ground level openings covered with screen.
- Electrical cables and wires enclosed in conduit and free from dust and cobwebs
- Floors must be of impervious materials, free from cracks, holes, and corrosion, easy to clean, so as to minimize the accumulation of dirt. They must be resistant to cleaning agents and solutions and free from pest infestation. They should be resistant to product spillage, cleaning agents and cleaning and free from litter, oil, accumulated water etc.
- Metal stairways must be made from metallic, non-corrosive material and sealed.
- Drains shall flow in a direction opposite to the direction of food preparation/manufacturing process flow and must be covered with mesh to prevent insects and rodents from entering the processing area
- Gutters, open drains, potholes, and pools shall be monitored to prevent water from stagnating. Manhole covers should be properly greased and sealed.
- Doors, windows must be smooth and easy to clean and of non-absorbent material. The frames must be tightfitting and doors must have self-closing devices.
- Walls, partitions, and ceilings must be made of durable materials, cleanable and free from flaking, swelling, exfoliation, recesses. They must be maintained to minimize accumulation of dirt, condensation, and growth of undesirable moulds and shedding of paint or plaster particles.
- Windows, doors and all other openings like exhaust fans must be screened with wire-mesh or insect proof screen to prevent entry of insects, pests, and animals.
Equipment and Containers
- Equipment should be properly designed, maintained, calibrated and must not transmit toxic substances, odor or taste or cause color changes in all parts. The material must be non-corrosive, non-toxic like stainless steel
- Equipment with interior surfaces that are in direct contact with the product should be self- draining. The sieves, filters, and gaskets should be checked and maintained on a regular basis. Storage, food conveyors and blending bins should be fitted with suitable, close-fitting covers.
- Equipment such as sieves, carter disks, truer cylinders, de stoners, separators, combinators, scourers, magnets and metal detectors should be used to control foreign body contamination by cleaning the incoming wheat as well as to protect the final product.
- Equipment such as sifters, purifiers, roller stands etc. should be designed in such a manner as to allow both inspection and cleaning simultaneously. Equipment such as a flashlight, equipment opening tools, spatula, sample containers, sieves, pans etc. should be available for inspection.
- Canopies that cover equipment, air vents and air vent covers and screens should be kept clean and dust free.
- Utensils used in production areas such as brooms, brushes, dust mops and vacuum cleaning systems should be made of materials such as metal and plastic and should be color-coded to prevent contamination.
- Chemical substances, pesticides, cleaning agents must be identifiable and stored separately to prevent accidental contamination of food.
- Potable water meeting the requirements of BIS standard on drinking water i.e. IS 10500 as an ingredient shall be used for operational and cleaning needs.
- Water shall be tested for compliance at least once a year.
- Water used for food handling, washing, etc. must not introduce any hazard or contamination to render the finished food article unsafe.
- storage tanks and water pipes shall be made of non-toxic, corrosion-resistant material and covered to prevent access by animals, birds, pests and other extraneous matter
- Non-potable water pipes shall be clearly distinguished from those in use for potable water and used only for non-food purposes
Cleaning of Utensils / Equipment
- Adequate facilities for cleaning, disinfecting of utensils and equipment shall be provided like hot and cold water if required.
- Clean-in-place (CIP) systems and Clean-out of place (COP) systems must be used
- Clear segregation shall be provided for separating cleaned utensils and equipment to avoid cross-contamination.
Waste disposal: Adequate drainage and waste disposal systems and facilities shall be designed and constructed so that the risk of contaminating food or potable water supply equipment, buildings, and roadways on the premises as well as the environment, in general, is avoided. All waste bins must be covered.
Personal hygiene and Employee facilities
- Provision of adequate clothing and safety footwear
- facility for hand washing and drying hands and sanitizing before touching food materials
- provision of toilet facility
- Rest & refreshment room and changing facility should be provided for employees
- A display board mentioning Do’s &Don’ts, smoking policy, no eating and drinking signs where prohibition is required for the workers in English and local language must be placed in a prominent area
- Signs to guide personnel to fire exits, stairs, elevators etc. during emergencies should also be present.
- Adequate health check-up shall be conducted for all food handlers as per local regulation
- First aid equipment should be kept secure in a locked cupboard and should only be issued by trained staff.
- All treatments should be fully recorded in a medical record book together with the patient’s name, date, disease, and the medical supplies issued.
Ventilation systems natural and /or mechanical including air filters, exhaust fans, wherever required, shall be designed and constructed so that air does not flow from contaminated areas to clean areas. Fly screens which should be fitted with dust filters so as to avoid the intake of air contaminated by microorganisms, dust aerosols, chemicals and smoke
- Storage of materials in bulk quantity must be off the floor to prevent harboring of any insects, pests or rodents and encourage easy cleaning.
- Stack numbering scheme (layout) should be displayed in each warehouse/ go-down clearly labeling the location and number of each stack.
- Each material/lot should be stacked separately, ensuring no mix-ups. Follow FEFO / FIFO system while releasing the material from the store.
- Storage may be of either concrete or steel construction. Corrugated steel bins can also be used as whole grain storage.
The storage area should be
- elevated and away from most places
- airtight, even at loading and unloading ports
- made of rodent-proof materials
- clean to minimize insect breeding
- plastered with an impervious material to avoid termite attack or attack by other insects
ESTABLISHMENT – CONTROL OF OPERATIONS
Control of operations is necessary to produce food that is fit for human consumption and is free from all kinds of contamination.
- Raw materials should be purchased from approved suppliers and a system must be in place to evaluate delivered ingredients. They must not be accepted if it contains insects, microorganisms, pesticides, veterinary drugs or other toxic substances unless they can be reduced to the acceptable level by further processing.
- Wheat is usually received at the mill by truck or rail and must be inspected and tested for impurities, moisture content, insect infestation, and sprout damage and must be unloaded only if it matches the grading certificate received.
- Certificates of acceptability for raw materials and a certificate of analysis (COA) for ingredients, raw materials, and packaging materials should be received with each delivery and maintained.
- All raw materials, as well as the packaging materials, should have a batch code and accompanying documentation to identify them in storage and processing.
Wheat requires specific temperature, humidity, moisture, and ventilation conditions to be transported safely and before loading vehicles must be inspected for infestation, spills, rodents, insects/pests. Conveyances, containers and bulk transport should be suitable for food use and should be weather-proof.
Trucks should be inspected and sampling of raw material
- a stock is fully covered with tarpaulin and unloaded on tarpaulin
- there is no physical damage to the stock
- Factories receiving grain via rake
- Materials of different varieties/from different seller shall be sampled separately to adequately assess the quality and maintain traceability
- If an infestation is found, the corresponding stacks should be segregated for fumigation
Storage and handling
- Adequate storage facilities (silos) should be provided for the storage of incoming wheat and different grades of wheat must be stored in different silos
- Separate storage areas should be provided for processed and unprocessed foods. Different
- Wheat storage silos should be rodent, insect and bird proof
- should be kept in a hygienic condition and cleaned and fumigated regularly
- Silos should be constructed of suitable materials such as cement and fitted with covers and have smooth and crack free interiors
ESTABLISHMENT – MAINTENANCE & SANITATION
In flour mills, maintenance of facility and equipment play equivalent role in adopting right sanitation practices.
Flour mills shall adopt adequate strategies inclusive of but not limited to:
- Clean exterior grain handling areas and equipment
- Clean processing areas and equipment
- Cleanly finished goods handling areas
Methods for cleaning include broom sweeping, dry wiping and vacuum cleaning. There must be a regular daily, weekly, fortnightly and monthly master sanitation schedule.
The most effective method to ensure food safety against pests is fumigation with phosphine (PH3) gas. Phosphine fumigation is preferred because of leaving a little number of residuals and ease of application. 650 ppm phosphine gas concentration of the storage atmosphere in the fumigation is determined as the optimum value for pest control
Manufacturing facility must be dis-infested with approved agents or thermally at periodic intervals.
Allergen control management
Any Allergen Control Plan should address the below minimum requirements:
Allergen ingredients must be listed and displayed at the relevant places in the processing and storage areas for awareness among all the employees.
Common pests and control plan
Grain and grain products in flour mills are at risk of being contaminated by foreign material, insects, microbes and vertebrate pests. Good engineering for food safety and sanitation are first and most important considerations while setting up a flour mill to avoid these pests.
Prevention of infestation
Stored grain: Most insect and mould activity is greatly reduced at grain temperatures below 15ᶿC. Planned temperature reductions by controlled aeration can significantly reduce insect population management.
Packaged grain: can be protected from getting infested by having a comprehensive integrated pest management programme that ensures regular monitoring, the timely intervention of corrective actions based on (IPM) Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP), evaluation and follows ups
Pest control plan
Pest Control must be designed as a comprehensive system at food manufacturing facilities by installing heat sterilization units, modified atmosphere treatments, regular monitoring of storage bins.
ESTABLISHMENT – PERSONAL HYGIENE
- The health of food handlers means that they should not be suffering from any disease or illness likely to be transmitted through the food. Regular medical examinations are a must.
- Hygiene of food handlers is paramount and they should be trained in personal hygiene like washing hands after using the toilet and before handling any food, refrain from smoking, spitting, be sneezing and coughing. Wear protective clothing and headgear, face mask and gloves. Avoid touching their hair, nose, rubbing eyes, ears, scratching beard or body parts.
- Food Business Operator should implement and display visitor control policy.
PRODUCT INFORMATION AND CONSUMER AWARENESS
Product information and labeling
- All packaged food products shall carry a label and requisite information as per provisions of Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006, Legal Metrology (Packaged Commodity Rules 2011) and Regulations
- Adequate and accessible information must be available to each person in the food chain to enable them to handle, store, process, prepare and display the food products safely and correctly and that the lot or batch can be easily traced and recalled if necessary
Consumer awareness and complaint handling
- The information shall be presented to consumers in such a way so as to enable them to understand its importance and make informed choices. Information may be provided by labeling or other means, such as company websites, education programmes, and advertisements.
- The Food Business shall have a system to handle product complaints with the identified person or people responsible for receiving, evaluating, categorizing, investigating and addressing complaints.
Awareness and responsibilities
All personnel shall be aware of their role and responsibility in protecting food from contamination or deterioration. Food handlers shall have the necessary knowledge and skills to enable them to handle food hygienically. Those handling strong chemicals or potentially hazardous substances shall be trained in safe handling procedures and techniques.
Suitable training shall be given to all personnel handling food to enable them to have the required knowledge and skills in GHP and GMP for specific tasks along with personal hygiene requirements commensurate with their work activities, the nature of food, its handling, processing, preparation, packaging, storage, service, and distribution.
Instruction and supervision
Periodic assessments of the effectiveness of training, instructions programmes as well as routine supervision and checks should be made to ensure that food hygiene and food safety procedures are being implemented correctly and effectively by all personnel.
Management & supervision
FBO management shall lead the establishment of Food safety management systems in their premises. FBO management shall ensure providing necessary training & resources to their employees to develop food safety culture at the plant site.
AUDIT, DOCUMENTATION & RECORDS
Self-evaluation and review
- FBO shall conduct a self-evaluation process to review the effectiveness of the implemented food safety system at periodic intervals through internal and external audits or other mechanisms at least once in a year.
- Necessary corrective actions based on self-evaluation, customer feedback, complaints, new technologies and regulatory updates at periodic intervals.
Documentation and records
- Appropriate documentation and records of processing, production, and distributions shall be maintained in a legible manner, retained in good condition for a period of one year or the shelf-life of the product, whichever is more.
- Suppliers should have effective pre-requisite programs in place and should be verified annually.
- Audits should be carried out on suppliers of raw materials.