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Food manufacturing companies have a huge responsibility to the American public. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does its best to make sure they live up to it. Not only does the FDA mandate a slew of regulations designed to help ensure our food meets standards for health. It also has a lineup of best practices for keeping our food safe.

Outside tampering and other malicious behavior in food manufacturing is an ongoing concern. This leads to concerns of ensuring proper controls are in place to keep employees and facilities secure. Along with issuing food security guidelines, the FDA encourages food manufacturing facilities to assess their vulnerabilities and find ways to address them.

One of the most obvious methods of keeping your facility secure is also one of the most straightforward: access control. Access control refers to an electronic means of restricting access to specific areas of your property and facility. It’s a crucial element for food industry security, operations and peace of mind.

Where Access Control Fits with FDA Best Practices

FDA best practices for food security include paying attention to four key areas where security measures can be implemented. These are management practices, employees, outside visitors and the facility. Access control is an integral component in all of them.

Management Practices

Preparing for the possibility of malicious or tampering activities is at the top of the list for secure management practices.

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Tasks here include designating responsibility to someone well-versed in food security, conducting an assessment of security procedures and operations, and designing and implementing a food security strategy.

Access control plays a role by securing the most vulnerable areas where malicious activities are more likely to occur. It also serves in restricting access to company grounds and facility to employees or others authorized to be there.

Employees

A very important security measure for employees starts before they’re even hired, with a thorough screening process.

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Training in food security procedures is another way to ensure staff is on board with your company’s security measures. Issuing company identification cards employees can use to access the facility is also a strong security measure.

Different employees can be given different levels of access to various areas of the facility. With pre-programmed access these control cards can limit entry based on seniority, rank or role. Door access technology allows you to customize access to specific areas of your facility based on individual profiles.

Outside Visitors

Outside visitors to your facility can include everyone from contractors and delivery drivers to pest-control representatives and the general public.

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Strong security measures would still require authorization to enter areas of your facility, with the possibility of issuing visitor identification cards for access. Access control systems for manufacturing to shipping and receiving areas is another essential component for securing your facility.

Facility

Physically securing facility areas with access control systems is a vital security measure throughout your entire facility.

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Additional security measures include proper laboratory safety precautions as well as properly secured storage and use of cleaning agents, pesticides or other toxic and poisonous chemicals.

Where Access Control Fits into your Food Defense Plan

While FDA best practices for food security provide a general overview of where you need to focus your efforts, the most powerful security measures go far beyond general considerations. They dig deep into the details with a food defense plan that’s specifically tailored to your company and facility.

Establishing a food defense plan to secure your facility with access control technologies starts by targeting the following six areas:

Management of the Plan

Managing your food defense plan involves appointing a food security management coordinator and team, each with assigned responsibilities he or she is expected to uphold.

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Your plan needs to include procedures for handling threats and tampering, an evacuation plan and corrective measures. Access control comes into the plan by ensuring exits are accessible to all during evacuation and designated entry points are accessible to emergency personnel if needed.

Outside Security

The first step in keeping unwanted intruders out is establishing clear and secure boundaries around your facility’s perimeter.

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Access control technologies come into play for securing outside gates and other access points into your facility, and they can also prevent unauthorized access to exterior storage tanks, water supplies, ice-making equipment and other restricted areas.

Control access into the facility with employee or visitor identification cards. Access to delivery areas can be controlled by keeping a log of scheduled deliveries and only allowing those on the list to enter.

Inside Security

Door access control technologies play a major role for allowing or restricting access to a variety of areas inside your facility.

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With customized authorization options, each employee can be issued an identification card that limits access only to areas he or she needs to go. Access control can protect interior areas that include:

  • Central controls for the facility’s water system, gas, electricity and airflow
  • Laboratories and hazardous material disposal areas
  • Product and ingredient areas
  • Areas containing computer servers and system components
  • In-house ice storage and ice-making facilities
  • Offices containing sensitive company information

Storage Security

Storage areas can likewise be secured with access control technologies.

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Because they contain product ingredients, storage areas can be secured with controlled access as well as an access log to track those who enter the area. Storage areas containing hazardous chemicals require access control, along with proper ventilation and isolation from other parts of your facility.

Shipping and Receiving Security

Access to loading docks needs to be controlled, as does the entry of vehicles and individuals for all types of deliveries.

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Personnel Security

Customized access cards can be distributed to each employee.

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When choosing access cards, keep in mind that some types may be more easily duplicated than others. Certain smart cards can provide multiple applications and advanced encryption for sensitive information, and some cards even work with both basic and more complex access control systems.

In addition to providing identification cards for full-time and regular employees, don’t forget access control measures for employees that may be contracted, seasonal or entering the facility during off-hours. Orientation and training programs can ensure employees know how your access control system works.

Benefits of Access Control as Part of Your Food Defense Plan

Implementing an access control system as part of your food defense plan provides multiple benefits across the board. These include:

Eliminating Key Hassles

When employees with keys leave the company, the keys often leave with them.

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Having new keys made for new employees can get costly, as can changing the locks if you’re concerned about extra company keys that were never returned. With an access control system, you can simply remove a person’s access when they leave the company, rendering their identification card useless for entry.

Tracking Entry and Exits

Access control systems can be set up to not only allow access, but to also track who is coming and going.

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This can be advantageous for keeping track of hours worked, ensuring strangers aren’t wandering around your facility, and identifying individuals who entered highly sensitive or vulnerable areas.

Enhancing Safety

For security reasons, access control keeps people out of restricted areas, but it can also help with safety.

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It does this by keeping people out of areas containing tools, equipment or supplies that could be hazardous without proper training.

Safeguarding Sensitive Information

Company trade secrets and other sensitive information are much more secure behind the protection of an access control system.

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You can restrict access to an entire room or suite of offices where the sensitive information is stored.

Scaling as Needed

Access control systems can grow right along with your company, with the ability to control up to thousands of doors in hundreds of locations.

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Employees that require access to facilities in different locations can gain it all with the same proximity card.

Additional benefits of access control systems come from the ability to control alarm and event monitoring for your system, as well as threat level escalation and reporting, which can be done from any mobile device.

Quality access control systems are equipped with an automatic system failover to prevent any downtime. Even if the power goes out, your system doesn’t. One more plus is the ability to work with existing hardware that may already be installed, such as strikes, magnetic locks and proximity card readers.The Electronic Access Control System for Manufacturing industry produces smart cards, biometric scanners and other access control systems, including keypads.

Choosing the Right Security Provider

Now that you know how access control can be used to strengthen your security and benefit your company, your next step is determining the right security provider to implement it.

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 It’s essential to take a number of factors into consideration when choosing a security provider that can meet your access control needs.

History of Success

Reviewing the security provider’s history and past performance is a must, as is looking at past projects they’ve completed.

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If the provider has a history of happy clients, there’s a good chance you could be one of them.

Ongoing Education

Being in the industry for years doesn’t mean much if the security provider doesn’t keep up with the latest technologies.

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Ongoing education is essential for advanced systems that offer modern functionalities.

Ongoing Support

Security providers are apt to give you their full attention during the sales process, and you want one that continues to prioritize customer satisfaction even after your system is installed.

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Rapid response times and multiple support options are a major plus.

Transparency

The top security providers will be up front about everything, from the breakdown of the cost to the challenges that may seem impossible to meet.

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Creativity

Creativity enables security providers to design customized solutions to those seemingly impossible challenges.

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Deep knowledge of the industry and viable solutions helps them craft one that meets your exact needs.

Thorough Implementation Process

Implementing new security measures is a big deal, and the process a security provider uses needs to reflect that.

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The most reputable providers tend to have a multi-step process that includes phases such as:

  • History, which reveals the background of your company, its procedures and past security measures
  • Diagnostics, where existing security systems are reviewed
  • Discovery, with an analysis and onsite assessment to determine new security opportunities
  • Design, where software and products are recommended based on technologies that match your needs
  • Installation, which includes ongoing progress reports until completion
  • Training, to ensure you and your staff know how to operate the new technology
  • Review and finalization, where all components and aspects of the project are reviewed for your final approval

Transparency

The top security providers will be up front about everything, from the breakdown of the cost to the challenges that may seem impossible to meet.

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How Access Control Fits into Your Daily Operations

In addition to being a crucial component for security, access control systems for manufacturing serves as an operational tool that can improve your inner workings on a daily basis.

Door access control technologies can feasibly be implemented in every point of entry, providing a secure perimeter that allows access only to authorized individuals. This can improve security for incoming materials and deliveries, storage areas, water and utility systems, finished products, loading docks and sensitive company operations and computer systems.
Access control technologies can also provide intimate knowledge of every individual who enters your facility, whether they’re employees, contractors, returning vendors or one-time visitors.

With the right access control system implemented by the right provider, your food manufacturing facility can benefit on multiple levels. You’ll be able to more confidently adhere to FDA regulations, follow best food safety practices, maintain a strong food defense plan and safeguard the quality of your final product – all while improving the safety and security of your employees and overall company.

Our integrated security solutions include access control systems for manufacturing facilities to streamline and enhance security operations.

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