To accomplish this, all employees participate in annual and ongoing safety and quality training programs. Annual programs cover such areas as allergens, food defense, good manufacturing processes, sanitation, standard operating procedures, quality, safety, hazard communications, blood-borne pathogens, HACCP (13 specific plans), and process controls. Training sessions are offered in three languages to ensure complete employee comprehension. Outside equipment suppliers also conduct regular training programs for installed machinery, such as X-ray contamination detection, inkjet printing, and Osgood filling systems. All managers, even those not involved in manufacturing, have completed a ServSafe or HACCP and/or SQF certification course.
Every day of operation, the facility’s equipment is completely disassembled, rinsed, scrubbed, cleaned, and sanitized. Teams of employees from all departments trained in quality control, safety, and maintenance conduct daily inspections for possible food safety hazards. “Any area of a piece of equipment that is identified as a hazard will have a corrective action completed and is added to the sanitation’s master sanitation schedule to ensure no further deficiency will occur,” Beane said.
The effort has gained notice. In 2011, Hans Kissle received SQF Level 3 “excellent” certification through Silliker. The year before, the company earned an SQF Level 2 certification, and in 2009, a Silliker Platinum Award—one of only 10 food manufacturing facilities throughout the U.S. to have done so.
The company’s teamwork approach also impressed the Food Quality Award judges. “It is obvious that the entire associate team, supported by top management at Hans Kissle, has defined, implemented, and is maintaining a food safety and quality program that focuses on the production of a safe product that meets requirements while continually improving the process and system overall,” one judge commented. “It is very exciting to see a successful organization that has such a strong focus and is able to implement and maintain it.”
Investing in Technology
Like many modern food processing companies, Hans Kissle invests in new technologies to improve safety and quality. “We are always researching the current technologies in the industry for food safety, product processes, equipment, and sustainability, and [we] consider how these would work for Hans Kissle,” Venti said. Some of the major investments in 2011 included:
Cooling tower: An older cooling tower was replaced with a more efficient, larger capacity unit. The investment reduced energy consumption by 15% while allowing products to be cooled more quickly, ensuring HACCP compliance.
X-ray contamination and metal detection systems: Hans Kissle upgraded and added new X-ray detection systems to minimize the risk of foreign materials, and upgraded its metal detection systems to screen for ferrous, non-ferrous, and stainless steel on all production lines. “We have replaced/upgraded our current metal detectors each year to enhance our ability to prevent foreign materials from reaching our customers,” Beane said.
Hans Kissle’s quality assurance efforts have led to the company rejecting about 1% of all incoming ingredients as substandard, saving about $800,000.
Integrated computer system: An upgraded computerized processing system provides full audit and tracking capability for every lot purchased and every finished good produced. The system tracks all raw products and packaging through production as well as the finished goods that are produced. Combined with concentrated employee training, the system’s real-time inventory control increased the company’s inventory cycle by more than 30% and reduced paper consumption by 25%.
Industrial rider floor scrubber: A new EcoFlex floor rider scrubber provides cleaning with greater control over use of water and detergent.
Repitch and seal seafood processing room: A new seafood processing area was built with repitched floors to eliminate any potential for standing water. Modified concrete with epoxy primer was installed with approved topping and lock-coat.