Food Safety: 7 Pest Hotspots to Monitor

It’s no secret that food processing facilities, warehouses and distribution centers must maintain high standards to ensure food safety. If pests infiltrate a workspace, every area of production is at risk. Not only can pests carry diseases that threaten health and safety, an infestation could also lead to product loss, product recall, reputation damage, product liability lawsuits and a facility’s shutdown.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates nearly 48 million Americans get sick from foodborne diseases every year, while thousands more are hospitalized or even die from them. 

Understanding the threats, developing a robust pest prevention strategy and recognizing when it’s time to call for help are vital to protecting your operations, staff and customers.

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5 Coffee Trends to Watch in 2022

Nearly two years after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States, consumers continue to rely on daily comforts for moments of normalcy in uncertain times. Coffee is at the top of that list.

For years, coffee has earned a top spot among America’s favorite drinks. In a recent national study, the National Coffee Association found 60% of respondents had a coffee in the past day, more than any other beverage — including water!

While it’s a safe bet that coffee will continue being the beverage of choice for many Americans, how they drink it is constantly changing, and the food and beverage industry needs to stay on top of these evolving trends to stay competitive.

We’ve pulled together some of the hottest trends to watch in 2022.

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Does your PSM compliance training meet the latest OSHA requirements? [infographic]

Industrial refrigeration managers know that their personnel must undergo Process Safety Management (PSM) compliance training — but how do they know if their current training meets with the latest requirements from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)?

For example, did you know that simply sending your refrigeration team off for generic training at another facility is not enough? OSHA 1910.119 mandates being trained on your specific equipment and process.

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The Stage-Gate Approach and Why it’s at the Root of Successful Project Development Strategy

Process-related project development can be a lengthy, expensive and unnecessarily complicated process without a solid plan to guide the project from start to finish.

Imagine investing in a large, complex piece of equipment or component for your facility without first confirming the question of how it will be integrated into your existing controls/automation system. If it doesn’t easily “connect” (plug-and-play), then you may need to reengineer the system(s), buy additional hardware/software, and/or delay the project timeline to resolve an issue that should have been identified prior to the purchase. The same holds true for other questions, such as when this equipment should be installed. If it does not align with your overall business objectives and strategy, then there could be negative consequences.

The AIA stage-gate process (also referred to as the phase-gate process) is a project management technique that breaks down complex projects into structured phases to mitigate risk and ultimately minimize (ideally eliminate) the consequences of poor planning.

In this article, we will address the stage gate approach and how it pertains to the process equipment integration portion of a project.

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Choosing a Systems Integrator (SI) to Advance Your Automation Strategy

The use and development of industrial robotics and automation technology has accelerated in recent years, and that growth remains at full speed ahead. According to a recent ABI Research report, more than a half million mobile robots will be shipped to warehouses globally by 2030. That’s a Compounded Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of nearly 40% in the next decade — and that’s just for distribution warehouses, not to mention manufacturing and processing facilities.

Many large food and beverage manufacturers have in-house engineering teams that provide automation and system integration services to their various facilities. However, most small- and medium-sized processors don’t have that capability, meaning they must often partner with an outside systems integrator (SI) to advance their automation strategy and bring new systems online.

With so many available options in the vast field of automation and robotics, selecting an SI can seem like a daunting endeavor — but it doesn’t have to be.

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Retrofitting an Existing Space for Cold Storage? Keep These Factors in Mind.

Cold storage is already a multibillion-dollar market, but it’s expected to continue growing in the years ahead. This surge is fueled by a number of factors, including:

  • Increased demand for fresh food
  • Growth in supermarket sales (especially since the height of the COVID-19 pandemic)
  • A rise in online grocery shopping
  • The need for pharmaceutical drug and vaccine storage

As cold storage construction booms, some are converting existing buildings into refrigerated facilities. However, cold storage warehouses require unique specifications for the structure’s thermal envelope that are much more complex than a typical dry warehouse.

It’s crucial to understand these unique differences and the level of specialized detail involved, especially when it comes to a retrofit. Otherwise, you may face costly problems with your facility’s performance and thermal envelope in the future.

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Inside the World’s Largest Sous Vide Processing Facility [PHOTOS]

“Sous vide” is French for “under vacuum” and has been around for decades in France. Since 1971, Cuisine Solutions — along with subsidiary CREA and Chief Scientist Dr. Bruno Goussault — has been perfecting the sous vide technology utilizing cooking time and temperature as the foundations of its development.

As the need for food safety and consistency has dramatically increased in recent decades, the company continued investing in more production capacity, new adjacent technologies and greater innovations — including a new plant in San Antonio, Texas.

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4 Sustainability Features from Our Latest Award-winning Food Plant

Stellar’s recent design-build project for Cuisine Solutions was named Food Engineering magazine’s 2021 Sustainable Plant of the Year. The LEED-registered facility in San Antonio, Texas, is the largest sous vide processing plant in the world with nearly $200 million in investment and measuring 315,000 square feet.

The state-of-the-art facility boasts innovative eco-friendly technologies both inside and out. In addition to saving millions of gallons of water annually via reuse in storage silos, Cuisine Solutions embraced many other sustainable measures. Let’s look at four of its notable sustainability features that could be relevant for other projects, regardless of product or processing.

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Are HEPA Filters the Best Choice for Your Facility?

Billions of particles can lace unconditioned air with dust, dirt, bacteria and viruses. That’s why your food plant’s air filters are crucial to preventing contamination and ensuring food safety. But when it comes to filtration, more isn’t necessarily better, especially when it comes to high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters. HEPA filters are a necessity for many plant environments, but the level of filtration can vary, potentially making certain options expensive overkill for others.

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Preventing a Botulism Recall Before it Happens

Most of us were taught during childhood not to eat canned food from dented or bulging cans to avoid botulism poisoning. But according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), only 7% of botulism outbreaks between 1950 and 1996 were traced to commercially processed foods. The prospect of cans causing botulism poisoning carries such notoriety due to a widely publicized botulism outbreak in 1919 linked to a shipment of canned black olives that killed 18 people in a handful of states. This instilled widespread fear of botulism coming from canned goods into the psyche of American consumers — a fear that has been passed on from generation to generation.

In the aftermath of the outbreak, a consortium of canned food producers, scientific experts and government officials came together to develop strict regulations and establish state inspection services for canned foods processing. Not only did these regulations form the basis of what we now know as the nation’s food safety system, they restored the public’s confidence in canned foods and in the national food industry.

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