QA 16/01_A

Why are overhead lights a risk to food safety?

Foreign matter contamination can come from many different places within your business and to control these you need to know where potential sources of this type of contamination exist.  One of these potential sources could be right above your head – are your overhead lights adequately covered and not presenting a contamination risk?

Why would overhead lights be a risk?

Overhead lights are generally made of several different components, including glass, hard plastic and metal.  All of these elements are considered a type of foreign matter if they end up in food product.  Light globes can shatter, hard plastic covers can crack and break and metal parts can fall off.

Look into the light

To complete this task is quiet simple.  Take a walk around your work area and visually look to see if any of the overhead lights are a potential source of contamination.  The types of things to look for include:

  • Are the lights covered?
  • Are there any cracks or damaged areas in the light covers?
  • If the lights are not covered, are the light globes or tubes unbreakable?
  • Are the light located in an area that would have a direct impact on your produce, equipment or utensils if a breakage were to occur?

Note:  While you are looking into the light – check to see if there is any build up of dead insects, dirt or dust in the overhead light fittings and covers.

Recording your inspection

In the world of food auditing, if it is not written or recorded there is a high chance that the activity is not being completed. Most audit standards, including Coles, Aldi, SQF and Woolworths, require businesses to keep a light register and maintain records of inspections of lights via your monthly GMP checks.

As a starting point, each overhead light source and their status should be identifiable – don’t just record that ‘ALL’ overhead light have been checked and okay.  You need to drill down deeper into the location, quantity and type to really capture the status of all overhead lights.  Three benefits of checking and recording your overhead lights separately and specifically include:

  • The record provides supporting audit evidence that all overhead lights have been checked
  • Your risk is better managed when you know the exact location and do a full check rather than half a check
  • You will be able to know exactly which overhead light needs fixing and where it is

Does your business have a ‘prevention of foreign object contamination’ section as part of their Quality Management System.  If so, does this include the documentation of your overhead lights and the inspection of these items?  If your business needs any assistance with this particular food safety issue or any other food safety issue, contact Brismark Business Services on 3915 4234 or [email protected].

Source: HACCP Mentor, 15 June 2015