The SSOP in the food processing establishment is a planned, designed, written, and executed program to maintain sanitation while protecting a food product.
Planning the SSOP is a critical step as a pre-requisite to a successfully designed sanitation program. The SSOP must completely describe all clean-up steps for pre-operational sanitation and operational sanitation, as well as identify food contact surfaces and any corrective actions taken upon food contamination.
The primary concern in the SSOP is protecting food product. Properly designing the SSOP will aid in preventing contamination from bacteria and other contaminants and will provide a strong “stepping stone” to further validate the HACCP Program.
SSOP – Initial Planning
When planning the SSOP, the SSOP coordinator would evaluate the food processing establishment – noting all rooms, facilities, equipment, non-food contact surfaces, and food contact surfaces. It is these components that must be identified to determine their importance in the SSOP design.
Assuming the SSOP coordinator has a clear understanding of the food process that will be produced in the establishment; he/she will take these processes into consideration when designing the SSOP. Each step in the “food process” must be evaluated to determine if there is a possibility for contamination from equipment or food handlers.
SSOP – Pre-Operational Sanitation Observations
Once the SSOP Coordinator has a general idea as to how product is processed in the establishment and an idea of all the facilities and equipment used to produce the product, he/she will determine what steps are necessary to design the pre-operational sanitation checks.
The pre-operational sanitation checks are performed before operations begin and before any food product enters a room for processing. Most often, the written pre-operational sanitation check will first include “cleaning and sanitizing all food contact equipment prior to operations”. The SSOP coordinator will determine which pieces of equipment will come in direct contact with product and will have written documentation of all these pieces of equipment written in the SSOP program.
In planning the pre-operational sanitation check, the SSOP Coordinator will also identify a written clean-up procedure showing how equipment and/or facilities will be cleaned if contamination is observed while performing the pre-operational sanitation check.
SSOP – Operational Sanitation Observations
Once planning for the pre-operational sanitation check has been completed, the next step is to determine what contamination hazards might occur during operations. The operational sanitation check is performed during operations – while product has been exposed to equipment and other utilities. As with the pre-operational sanitation observations, the pperational sanitation observations must be documented in a written plan – accurately describing what the sanitation manager will be checking throughout the operation day.
The operational sanitation check will basically include a close review of non-food contact surfaces and food contact surfaces for any contamination that could possibly come in contact with product. When designing the SSOP, the product is of most concern!
Most often, the operational sanitation check is performed at least twice per day and any findings are documented, showing any corrective actions that were taken to correct the deficiency. Planning the operational sanitation observations is also a crucial component of the SSOP System.
SSOP – Recordkeeping System
The SSOP recordkeeping system is the final component to plan in the SSOP System. The pre-operational sanitation and the operational sanitation check must be documented in a recordkeeping system to verify that the SSOP checks have been performed throughout the day as scheduled. The recordkeeping system not only identifies that the checks have been performed; they also show documentation of the monitoring of the SSOP as well as any corrective actions that were taken.
SSOP – Pre-Requisites
Pre-requisites for the SSOP are also necessary to assure a properly designed and executed SSOP program. Pre-requisites such as pest control programs, good manufacturing practices, proper training of employees of food handling techniques, and many other tasks that will improve the establishment’s sanitation system should also be taken into consideration.
When designing the SSOP, refer to the Federal Regulation 416.11 through 416.17 Sanitation Standard Operating Procedures. These regulations will further identify the Federal Regulations that must be followed when designing and executing a SSOP.
- USDA, Food Safety Inspection Service, Sanitation Standard Operating Procedures
- USDA, FSIS, fsis.usda.gov