To ensure that we are consumers’ first choice every day, our products must always be safe and of high quality. One important part of our safety work is to make sure our products match the requirements of international certificates.
Our products or packages must not contain anything that could endanger the health of consumers or that is not included in the list of ingredients that accompanies them.
We operate in many countries, and each has its own laws, regulations and recommendations according to which we act. In addition, we at Vaasan have our own food safety guidelines that are much stricter. We have high standards for food safety because we believe taking care of it is not only responsible but also a basic prerequisite for working in the food industry.
Our food safety guidelines promise our customers:
- Our products are always of uniform quality.
- They are always baked in clean facilities.
Everyone’s actions count in food safety
Certificates give a framework for food safety and quality work, but the food safety and quality is the responsibility of every Vaasan employee – every day and in all of our bakeries. Every employee, who can affect our products, raw materials, packaging materials, production, storage or distribution, is responsible of the safety of our products.
Hygiene and cleanliness are fundamental to food safety. All Vaasan bakeries use a systematic and standardised method for evaluating their performance in terms of hygiene.
We cannot take risks with allergenic ingredients. The procedures used for handling allergenic raw materials, such as eggs and dairy products, in the correct way throughout production are of primary importance in terms of food safety. Materials of this type are stored and used in such a way as to prevent them from coming into contact with other raw materials.
A new food product packaging markings regulation came into effect in December 2014. This meant a significant renewal of packaging materials, for example, allergens had to be highlighted in the ingredient list. In terms of food safety, information about ingredients is now even clearer and more accessible to consumers.
Preventing foreign objects and substances contaminating products is another important aspect of food safety. In addition to monitoring inputs, we use tools such as metal detectors and scanning devices. Detailed guidelines are followed to protect production lines from contamination during maintenance work, and prevent foreign objects finding their way into products when lines are started up again.
Safe raw materials
Raw materials go through an arrival check and sensory inspection before entering the production process. The temperature of raw materials requiring cold storage is measured when they arrive at a plant, and the temperature in our cold storage facilities is monitored constantly. We regularly take samples of our raw materials, semi-finished products, and end-products to ensure that they comply with the product and ingredients information that we provide.
Food safety is continuous improvement
Food safety is day-to-day work, but its continuous improvement is a prerequisite for our business. Our food safety guidelines are based on food safety standards that give us a framework and practical tools to implement food safety legislation. Certified product safety systems keep us continuously improving our work.
Group-wide certification standardizes operations
Customers demand increasingly detailed proof of the efficiency of companies’ product safety system in forms of certificates and third party audits. On international markets, product safety requirements are often tighter than on domestic markets, and many international clients have their own product safety standards. Our goal is that Vaasan’s product safety system fulfills the requirements of all our customers.
One of the most significant achievements in 2014 in terms of food safety was creating the company-wide FSSC 22000 certification. This is a big change, because for the first time we all have a common food safety certificate and system. This means that no matter which Vaasan bakery our clients buy their products from, they all have the same food safety and quality requirements.
In addition to our own production facilities, our practices in handling traded goods has received ISO 22000 certificate. It means that we have audited the practices how we ensure the quality of our traded goods.
Less customer complaints
The number of critical customer complaints we receive and a cleanliness and good practices index are among the indicators we use to measure our food safety performance. In 2014, the number of complaints diminished greatly which shows the improvement in our food safety level. The cleanliness and good practices index remained at a good level.
Our quality team is also responsible for improving the production hygiene in our company. Our goal is to unify cleaning and sanitation instructions together with our partners and to take part in investment projects at an early stage to identify important food safety issues.
Close co-operation internally and with our partners
At the end of 2014, a common quality organisation was launched. This was a major change, because earlier quality managers were part of different functions. Now they are part of the same organization, which helps co-operation and developing common practices.
In addition to improving our own work, we have trained our most important partners, like cleaning and maintenance, in food safety matters. This way we make sure that our partners understand the requirements and practices that are essential to food safety.