When it came to food safety, Neri’s Bakery Products refused to settle on taking its Safe Quality Food (S.Q.F.) certification to anything but the highest level. As Brett Neri-Ferraro, head of human resources and S.Q.F. Practitioner, recalled, “I believe my exact words were, ‘Go big or go home.’”
Neri’s Bakery achieved S.Q.F. Level 3 certification several years ago and has consistently scored in the 90-plus percentile since its initial audit.
“They were a long two years, a lot of sleepless nights and, on top of that, a lot of money that our family had to put back into our business to get it to Level 3 certified,” Ms. Neri-Ferraro said.
Neri’s has invested heavily on food safety to create a world-class operation. The Port Chester, N.Y.-based bakery conducts Salmonella and listeria testing in-house, as well as everything from shelf-life testing, lot-tracking and extensive training on G.M.P.s and cleaning protocols. It’s made those costly-but-necessary structural changes from insulating pipes and replacing boilers for more efficient product steaming to redirecting airflow to create a food-safe environment in the plant. The bakery also swapped out miles of older, overhead “racetrack” cooling conveyors with new spiral coolers with clean-in-place systems.
In addition to improving sanitation and eliminating unscheduled downtime, the multi-million-dollar makeover freed up precious space for further expansion by placing the spirals and packaging departments on newly built “mezzanine” levels between the facility’s three floors. The investments opened up enough room for the new pastry department that is scheduled to ramp up in early 2020. Go big or go home? That’s the attitude every bakery needs to ensure food safety.