MARION, OHIO — Food safety is a pillar for Wyandot Snacks, and that shines through in its recent appointment of SQF Level 3 certification. But the standards don’t stop there; with a culture of continuous improvement, the co-manufacturer of better-for-you snacks is always upping its game.

“It used to be that Level 2 was such a high bar, but now, Level 2 is often the minimum level required by brand holders and retailers,” said said Rob Sarlls, president and chief executive officer, Wyandot.

Level 3 certification is a defining quality for the type of better-for-you snack production Wyandot wants to be known for.

“It builds trust and affirms our commitment to customers and consumers alike,” said Mike Wells, senior vice-president, operations, Wyandot. “It also reflects engagement at all levels of the company, from the board to the manufacturing floor. Our entire food safety and quality system — from formulation to material ordering through processing, packaging and shipping — is covered in the scope of the SQF ­audit process.”

A co-manufacturer often sets the baseline for food safety and quality protocols on the standards of its most stringent customer. For example, Wyandot’s toddler snacks customer is the gold standard for food safety and requirements, which are so rigorous that they ­usually will ensure full compliance with any other standards or audits.

X-ray and metal detection are both used on this line, whereas in other areas of food production, it’s often an either-or scenario. For toddler snacks, a Mettler Toledo X-ray machine helps detect clumps for quality control while the Safeline metal detector will identify foreign materials, which adds a layer of food-safety assurance.

In fact, any workers entering the toddler snack production area from another part of production must first use a lint-roller on their clothing to reduce the risk of foreign materials hitching a ride.

Sometimes, though, certain standards might actually be too high for a customer not interested in the better-for-you market.

“Maybe they don’t need to be that high, but we can’t run our organization by saying, ‘We can be at a high level today and medium or low tomorrow.’ The whole house has to be at the highest level,” Mr. Sarlls said, noting that Wyandot has at times lost or turned down business because of it. “It’s not a level of quality that everyone wants, and that’s fine. People make those decisions every day.”

Whether on the extruders or any other production line in the facility, allergen control is always top-of-mind for Wyandot.

“All of our ingredients are stored onsite in our warehouse, and they’re all stacked differently depending on the allergens,” Mr. Sarlls explained. “You don’t want ‘allergen A’ falling in with ‘allergen B,’ so we barcode everything.”

This article is an excerpt from the March 2019 issue of Baking & Snack. To read the entire feature on Wyandot Snacks, click here.