Baking & Snack - August 2018 - 89

Ingredient Handling

a lot toLEARN

Automated tracking systems provide much-needed controls
and manage risk from the beginning of the process.
by Dan Malovany


Like in baseball, there is no crying, excuses or ifs, ands
or buts in food safety. Zero is the magic number when it
comes to the end game. That's because critical blunders
in the baking process often become a costly lesson that
doesn't wait until another day.
It's also why many bakeries and snack producers have
invested in automating the front end of their operations
with ingredient handling systems to track, trace and
keep everything running on pace. In many cases, such
automation also eases the burden of complying with the
Food Safety Modernization Act's regulations and recordkeeping requirements.
But if to err is human, why do so many manufacturers
still rely on manual lot tracking systems? "Many industries are trying their best to manage consistent production with minimal capital cost," explained Kevin Pecha,
sales manager, AZO. "As such, many have chosen to
save the money needed to implement an automated lot
tracking system and monitor batching information by
hand. This can be an efficient means of maintaining the
data; however, the diligence required to ensure accuracy
is occasionally lost."
Yes, a penny saved can become an error earned, although most miscues aren't the end of the world, at least
initially. "The main ones are 'honest' mistakes made by op-

erators, where they make entry errors or misread lot codes
from packaging," said John Hunter, sales account manager,
bakery and ingredient handling, Bühler Inc. "If these occur
with the ingredient lot number, traceability breaks down."
Then again, minor missteps tend to compound in the
beginning of production and could result in product loss
or, at worst, even a recall. "Errors and omissions on the records do not make the finished goods any less sellable, but
often the records do not reflect what has been integrated
into the batch every time," Mr. Pecha said. "Aside from
manual entry mistakes, missing or double ingredients can
be recorded as a single addition, and in a rush, lot number
changes may take a batch or two to become updated."
Moreover, manual recordkeeping also means twice
the amount of work. "Many bakeries are still relying on
hand-written tracking sheets for raw ingredient lots,
and many of these then must be transcribed into their
manufacturing software," noted Jason Stricker, director
of sales and marketing, Shick Esteve. "The duplication of
effort increases labor and allows the potential for simple
data entry mistakes."
In the food safety arena, it's always best to know the
answers before someone starts asking questions. "How
do we know the right ingredient is tipped into the system, into a bin or from the bag? If these systems are

A micro and minor scales
system discharging
into the pneumatic
transfer line streamlines
operations and allows for
greater flexibility.
Bühler / August 2018 Baking & Snack 89

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