“Is the product I am consuming safe?” is a much needed and growing concern these days. The raw materials used in the initial stage may be pure but the use of chemicals and other harmful toxins during the production process may make it unsafe as a final product. Conversion to organic does not automatically make a product safe but it is considered the stepping stone. The factory regulations during the production process, machines, raw materials and chemicals (if any) all have hand in making a product safe and maintaining its quality. KTE, being the pioneer of organic farming, has taken its initial steps to ensure quality and safety by going organic right from its establishment since 1984. In addition, HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point) plan and Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) are being introduced in the factory and packaging facilities in the Kathmandu Office for Quality Control and Food Safety Measures. The company has been strictly following Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) rules under WTO and ISO 22000 certification was put in place in 2009. At, KTE quality and safety are taken into account right from plantation of tea leaves to the distribution of the final products. Regular monitoring and pruning along with other various activities are carried out during plantation. Only authorized person are allowed to enter the factory. Apron, mask, mobcap and special slippers are a must for the workers/visitors inside the factory and the packaging units. Along with these basic principles of food safety and quality control, strict rules and regulations bound the production, processing and the marketing sectors of KTE.
HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point) plan
Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) is organized procedure developed to ensure food quality through preventive measures rather than curative ones. It analyses the physical, chemical and biological aspects of the products and advocates the safety and quality control of the products. The HACCP is strictly followed at the KTE factory and the Kathmandu office as well to identify the potential hazards before, during and after the production of the tea (the packaging and the distribution process).
With the drawbacks of traditional approach of quality control methods of “produce and test”, the points on HACCP have been adapted at KTE. The following are the seven principles of HACCP which have been in practice at KTE:
- Conducting a hazard analysis: A hazard analysis is conducted in the factory to determine food safety hazard if any. A food safety hazard is any physical, chemical or biological property that can cause food to be harmful for consumption.
- Identifying critical control points: A critical control point is the stage of production at which safety measures can be applied to reduce the safety hazard to an acceptable level.
- Establishing critical limits for each critical control point: Critical limit is the limit at which the food safety hazard must be reduced to.
- Establishing critical control point monitoring requirements: the quality control manager is responsible for presenting the requirements and monitoring if the critical control points are under control.
- Establishing corrective actions: If any deviation from the previously established limits is found during the manufacturing process, it is corrected immediately.
- Establishing procedures for ensuring the HACCP system is working as intended: Establishing plans whether the HACCP system is working as per the expectations is crucial for the production of safe products during the present batch and in the future batches.
- Establishing record keeping procedures: Records are kept as per the regulation of HACCP which includes analysis of the food safety hazards and the plan for its reduction.