Medication use is another of the four significant animal food safety hazards that animal feed mills must clearly identify and effectively control. There are stricter regulations for licensed medicated facilities, but any use of a medication in feed presents a potential hazard. Any mill that adds medication to animal food must include this hazard on their hazard analysis.
Training is a core requirement for managing this hazard.
Once a feed is formulated, it is up to employees to make sure they use the right medication in the right amount. Medications should be stored in a designated area separate from other ingredients. Medications must be clearly labeled with lot numbers and expiration dates maintained on the bags. When medication bags are stored in secondary containers like totes, the tote must be clearly labeled with the name of the medication. It is recommended that separate scoops be used for each medication to prevent cross contamination.
The key to making sure the right amount of the medication is used is for scales to accurately read the weight. Scales must be calibrated according to the manufacturer’s recommendations, usually annually at a minimum. State regulations will require certain scales to be calibrated at least annually. Test weights should also be available to check scale accuracy periodically. Records of calibrations and other scale checks must be maintained to prove that you are controlling the hazard of using too much or too little medication in a feed.
Emphasize the importance of the safe handling of medications with employees. They need to be focused on the task to make sure they do not make a mistake. This is especially important when hand adding medications.
Establish inventory procedures to monitor medication use and to track the amount of medications on hand. There are different regulations for licensed and non licensed mills, but it is critical that your firm can account for medication use and inventory.
Sequencing plans and flush procedures are typically used to prevent cross contamination. You should have written sequencing guidelines and written flush procedures. Be sure to monitor these programs to make sure employees are following the procedures. Periodic flush studies can demonstrate the effectiveness of this method for preventing cross contamination.
Mixer cleaning is an area of emphasis during inspections. Establish a schedule for removing buildup that can lead to contamination. Feed blended with molasses can stick to mixer walls and chutes. Medications used in this feed may not be safe in the next feed that will be mixed. Adding molasses at a blender instead of into the mixer can help with this issue.
Medications are a necessary feed ingredient. Train employees on your procedures for adding medications and to immediately report any errors or other concerns to their supervisor.
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