When a company connects to share experiences and processes related to Food Safety with continuous improvement in mind, there is bound to be learning opportunities. Such was the case at our EMC GF2 Food, Beverage, Bio and Ag Sector Event hosted by Burnbrae Farms in the Village of Lyn, Ontario in November.
|I think it would be relatively safe to say that those participating in this Special EMC GF2 Food Sector Networking Event came away from the session with a tremendous appreciation for the mighty egg and its journey from production to the customer’s plate! Our focus today was really on the grading side, but we also learned about other further manufacturing that Burnbrae Farms conducts.|
Our Host provided an excellent overview of the Company and its history. Burnbrae Farms (www.burnbraefarms.com) has been in business for 125 years now and are the largest integrated egg company in Canada. They have several grading facilities and further processing plants across Canada and employ between 1200-1300 people.
The company values innovation and flexibility and do their best to be responsive to consumers needs. They make available a number of convenient formats and through their many facilities can produce an incredible array of different products. Here at Lyn, they have invested in equipment over the years that have enabled them to improve processes such as washing, grading and crack detection. As we toured the plant and with the company history in mind, one could not help but admire the technological advances, inventive designs and use of robotics that ensure the safe handling, cleaning, sorting and packaging that takes place throughout these processes today.
Another area that is very important to Burnbrae is in community education. For the past several years, Burnbrae Farms has participated in the Doors Open Program (typically in the last week of May). The public is invited to tour the grading station while in full operation, as well as a visit to two separate viewing rooms where one can see the hens in a variety of caging systems that include free run and enriched housing. They enjoy doing this very much and see it as a great time to share information on their processes with the Community.
Food Safety Best Practices
After learning about Burnbrae Farms in general, we then turned our focus on to their best practices relating to Food Safety. Our Host started by saying that when it comes to food safety, the egg begins with its own protective casing making it somewhat unique.
Burnbrae Farms receives their eggs on refrigerated trucks. The trailers and loads are inspected, and temperatures, quantities and deviations are all noted. Everything is tagged with receiving dates and receipt numbers and then stored in inventory in either a graded or ungraded area depending on the egg status.
At this facility, eggs are graded continually from 7 am through to midnight. They are turning over 66,000 cases (1 million dozen) eggs every 2-3 days! They rely on a computerized inventory system that can trace product back quickly and efficiently. The eggs are washed, sorted, tested for deviations and then packaged. Cartons have a 4-hour production code, Julien date and plant code to help facilitate the trace back. For efficiency, food safety, and to meet customer needs they also group like production together (such as organic).
Alarm systems are in place should temperatures vary at all in the coolers. And, from a grading CCP (critical control point), the wash water is another element closely monitored.
|Burnbrae Farms has Ecocert (Organic Certification), and have both an A-Rating with BRC and the CFIA. As such, they are well-versed when it comes to meeting standards, welcoming 3rd Party Audits and embracing any opportunities for improvement.|
Training at this facility includes both GMP (Good Manufacturing Practices), CPP and Food Safety and there is ongoing testing to ensure knowledge transfer.
We also had the opportunity to learn more about quality and food safety as it relates to their Further Processing operation which is located in Brockville, Ontario. This Meat Registered CFIA facility operates to a very high standard and has implemented a variety of interesting programs. For example, to keep things fresh and in mind, the Team at Burnbrae oftentimes conducts quick sessionsthey call “GMP in a Minute” - embracing the opportunity to review things such as handwashing, hairnets, or whatever might be relevant at the time. They verify training effectiveness on a daily, weekly and quarterly basis documenting everything with sign-offs and once a year there is a plant-wide refresher. Operators are responsible for making sure their Team is compliant.
The QA Team at Burnbrae Farms maintains stringent records. They verify C of A’s (Certificate of Analysis) on all high risk raw materials. QA also holds/releases all packaging and raw material prior to its release to production. After production, once testing from a Food Safety standpoint has been completed, Food Safety will then hold/release the product until complete verification has been satisfied before allowing it to make its way to the market place.
On the Traceability front, which involves tracing both forward and backwards, mock recalls are conducted under various scenarios at least twice a year. Generally speaking, a full mock audit can take up to two hours here.
Keeping traceability in mind, we then had a great discussion on Audits in general and their fundamental role in ensuring that programs are in place to produce food safe products. As we know, Audits can be conducted as requested by a customer or on a yearly basis and can also be unannounced. Burnbrae is very responsive to their Audits and Auditors and in 2017 they scored 97.7% against three separate standards. A very notable achievement!
Our Host also shared their strategies when it comes to dealing with deviations. We talked about the discovery measures they utilize including root cause problem solving, and then the implementation of corrective actions and preventative measures. Deviations are tracked and trended and the information they learn can in turn be used as training tool so that they can drive continuous improvement initiatives and program enhancement. The goal is to be deviation-free.
Tours are always interesting because they expose products, processes and equipment that many of us are not familiar with. This tour in particular generated lots of discussion on the plant floor and it was interesting to see first-hand the various stages of egg grading. During our plant tour we noticed that there was a “GMP Free Zone” and our Host explained to us that this was to help differentiate the difference between the production floor and other areas where it is safe to carry food or there is a change in personal protective apparel, etc.
|As we finished our tour and discussion around the best practices Burnbrae Farms has instituted regarding Food Safety Programs, companies in attendance shared some of their challenges and we touched on items such as:|
* Implementing HACCP
* Engaging employees
* Managing paperwork
* Streamlining activity
* Complexities of wearing many different hats
Bren shared a couple of articles that she had in her files relating to developing a culture of food safety. There are many other resources and documents available. She also passed along information regarding OMAFRA’s Online Traceability Program.
“Food Safety Culture: Insurance Against Catastrophe”, Gary Ades, Ken Leith and Patti Leith, Food Safety Magazine, October-November 2014
“Creating a Culture of Food Safety”, Geoff Schaadt, Food Safety Magazine, June-July 2013
OMAFRA – Online Food Safety and Traceability E-Learning Courses
Roundtable Networking Discussion:
Our group then had a chance to share experiences and discuss opportunities or challenges with peers in attendance and we broached some interesting topics including:
- Recruitment and Retention challenges
- Sourcing seasonal workers, Millwrights and General Labour
- Next stages of the Growing Forward Program
- Green initiatives – energy conservation
- Going paperless
As the session ended, one of the participants remarked that it was really nice to see companies sharing information which could be helpful for those starting their businesses. Everyone in attendance also agreed that it is very exciting to see where a family business can go!
Participants really enjoyed this Event and asked to remain in touch with each other as we all endeavour to do our very best to produce food safe products for our customers everywhere.
Very special thanks to our Host, Burnbrae Farms, and all of the Manufacturers and Retail Representatives and Community Partner who joined us for this very special Networking Event!
All the best as always!
Bren de Leeuw, Director - EMC Food, Beverage, Bio & Ag Program Canada
Excellence In Manufacturing Consortium - email@example.com - 519-372-6009
EMC receives funding under Growing Forward 2, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative. However, the comments or opinions expressed on this blog are solely those of their respective contributors and do not necessarily represent the views of the Government of Canada or the Province of Ontario.