External factors should weigh heavily into any site selection process for a food processing facility, says the author. Protection from airborne hazards and water runoff issues is critical in both rural and urban areas. Once a facility is up and running, periodic testing for hazardous materials is also necessary for food safety.
The food processor should evaluate nearby properties to determine the present and past uses. The processor should be concerned with the external factors that could affect food production from a quality and food safety perspective.
In the rural setting, careful attention should be given to farming operations on adjacent sites. The processor needs to consider the amount, type, method of spraying, and drift mitigation plans for the crop protection products used in adjacent fields. In urban areas, similar consideration should be given to the type of businesses located near the proposed food processing facility. The food processor must evaluate the type of airborne hazards, find ways to mitigate the hazard, or choose an alternative site if adequate management of the hazard cannot be achieved.
The food processor should develop a site assessment that includes a summary of the owners and activities that are occurring on adjacent properties.
The final step is to verify and validate that the site evaluation and plans are working and physical barriers and procedures are effective. This would require periodic testing in and around the production facility to determine if hazardous residues from adjacent properties are present.