Doing Business in China Series
Food processing facilities in the U.S. have long made food safety one of their top priorities. Unfortunately that’s not the case in China. In recent years the country has been plagued with numerous high-profile food safety scandals, from grilled kebabs made from cat meat to pork buns so loaded with bacteria that they glow in the dark.
China has several government agencies that oversee food safety, but the process is slow, disjointed, unregulated, and certainly not up to U.S. standards. The country has limited expertise and resources to conduct inspections and mandate new regulations.
The best way to ensure your food safety standards are met in your plant in China is quite simple: bring your U.S. standards with you and employ them in your overseas operation. Here are a few additional tips that will help in implementing those standards in your China plant.
1. Begin with a very stringent and detailed sanitary design process that follows your U.S. standards for food safety. As we discussed in our quality control post, you’ll want to conduct frequent onsite visits to equipment manufacturers to ensure that materials and finishes meet your standards for sanitary design.
2. Designate one individual to oversee all aspects of food safety within your new plant from sanitary equipment design to construction materials to training of employees. Ideally, this is an individual from your U.S. operation who is well trained in food safety.
3. China has pollution levels much higher than in the U.S. so it’s critical to ensure that the ventilation and conditioned air system in your plant are installed up to U.S. specifications.
4. Conduct a rigorous training program for local employees in cleaning and sanitation. Many local employees haven’t been exposed to high sanitation standards so you’ll need to conduct regular training and inspections. Don’t make any assumptions about their knowledge of sanitary principles – you’ll need to cover all of the basics of cleanliness from hand washing to apparel requirements to overall hygiene.