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Software Update – Process Flow

It’s all about Flow!

Announcing the major release of the process flow drawing capabilities to help make Food Safety Plans even easier! In the continuous pursuit to make the complex task of developing Food Safety Plans simpler, the ConnectFood team has developed an easy to use, drag and drop visual designer. A process flow allows a facility to design the ‘story’ to tell regulators and inspectors how a food product is made. The process flow has visual indicators on process steps that signify which process steps have hazards, critical limits, and ingredients. Users can navigate to each of these entities from the process flow.

Product Flow Screen Shot

Why is a process flow diagram important?

When developing a process flow diagram, it is important to include all the process steps within the facility’s control, from receiving through final product storage, including rework and diverted by‐product, if applicable. Each process
step should be considered in detail and the information expanded to include all relevant process information. Information may include:

  • All ingredients and packaging used
  • Where raw materials, ingredients and intermediate products enter the flow
  • The sequence and interaction of all steps in the operation
  • Where product reworking and recycling take place in the process
  • Where product is diverted to waste, if applicable.

Since the accuracy of the process flow is critical to conduct a hazard analysis, the steps outlined in the chart must be verified at the plant. If a step is missed, a food safety hazard requiring a preventive control may be missed. Include every handling, processing and holding step for the product, as well as ingredients and packaging. The food safety team should walk through the facility and make any changes required in the flow diagram. At the same time, the team should make observations related to sanitation, potential for cross‐contamination or allergen cross‐contact, and potential harborages or introduction points for environmental pathogens. The walk‐through allows each team member to gain an overall picture of how the product is made. It may be helpful to invite additional plant personnel to review the diagram during the walk‐ through. Many times operators can identify issues that may be overlooked by management or the food safety team. The complete, verified flow diagram should be retained and periodically evaluated as a food safety record and part of the Food Safety Plan.
Food Safety Plans are dynamic and must be updated to reflect any changes in process or food safety considerations. Therefore, any significant changes to the process must be accurately reflected in the product flow diagram, and the Food Safety Team must evaluate if these changes have an impact on the hazard analysis and preventive controls in place.