Controlling quality at every step
August 01, 1999
by Teresa Acklin
The flour mill laboratory at Molinos de Puerto Rico is point zero for the company's HACCP program. An acronym for Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points, the comprehensive food safety program has not yet been embraced by the flour milling industry.
To the contrary, Manuel Orlando Herrera, president and general manager of Molinos de Puerto Rico, has suggested the mill is the first HACCP-approved mill in the Americas.
“We have a different focus here,” Mr. Herrera said. “We believe we must have control from the time the grain vessel arrives until we ship to the customer.”
Eloy A. Nieves, flour operations manager, said, “Under HACCP, every point where product can be adulterated must be controlled. We established the program when the new mill opened.”
HACCP is a complex, multi-faceted program. Mr. Nieves reviewed the various elements created for Molinos de Puerto Rico:
Molinos de Puerto Rico certified 25 of its employees in the HAACP program. Six of them create the HAACP team, which gathers to meet at least four times a year.
A recall group has been assembled to take action in the case of an incident. Each team member has his/her assignments, including Mr. Herrera and the sales manager.
In the elevator, all incoming barges are tracked, with bills of lading and inspection records maintained. Also maintained are records of bin emptying and fumigations. Regular checks are made of the filters and blowers to be sure the systems are operating correctly.
Microbiological checks are made of incoming grain vomitoxin for wheat and aflatoxin for corn. Results of the tests are maintained. Checks are also made for insect fragments, insect damaged kernels, salmonella, E. coli and listeria. Incoming water, which is filtered, also is checked for contamination.
Suppliers are informed of the HACCP status of Molinos de Puerto Rico. The company must demonstrate that the suppliers use G.M.P. applicable to their industries.
For all incoming product, technicians check records, inspect product, record lot numbers and evaluate the condition of incoming trucks.
Customers may request HACCP documentation from the mill, and any correspondence must be kept in the Molinos de Puerto Rico records.
Training records are maintained, as are Food and Drug Administration inspection records.
Other records kept include those tracking daily checks of rebolts for foreign material or infestation. The mill also maintains cleaning records for machinery and spouts and comprehensive fumigation information.
“The process gives ownership to the individuals with assignments,” Mr. Nieves said. “We are proud of what we are doing, and we want to symbolically leave our fingerprints on our work. We have a very professional staff with everyone thinking the same way.”