Food hygiene has hit the headlines again in recent months and this should raise alarm bells across the food sector. Any outbreak linked back to a food production facility can have a devastating impact on client relationships and thus long-term trading viability. Needless to say, you cannot afford to take any risks.
The cutting room may not appear to be problematic given a lack of liquids which can harbour listeria (in particular). However, this is no guarantee that it will remain pathogen free.
Watch the skies
Airborne contaminants, including salmonella, can hitch a lift into hygiene controlled areas on dust motes, so keeping surfaces free of dust should be a primary concern. Anti-microbial PVC curtains can be deployed to reduce the risks, but only regular sweeping is a sure way to prevent bacteria gaining a foothold.
Root cause analysis of swab testing reveals furniture is one of the most significant risk factors in any facility handling food. In context, look at where previous audits have flagged amber alerts and the chances are a disproportionate number of reoccurring flags will come down to furniture.
The issues usually lie with what are called harbourage points. These dirt traps stem from (poor) design decisions such as unnecessary ledges, seams, ingresses, raised welds and so-on that can offer refuge to unwelcome microbes. These also make the item more fiddly and thus time-consuming to clean, increasing the lifetime cost of ownership. As a general rule if an item of furniture isn’t food grade it has no place in a facility, and if its nearing end of life, the safest option is always to replace it.
Hygiene from the ground up
While brushes and brooms may seem fairly innocuous, using the wrong type could end up increasing the risks of cross-contamination by spreading microbes around the working environment. The safest option is to invest in specialist anti-microbial and non-shedding versions.
Hygiene top tip
If you use manual teams, consider the surfaces upon which they work as these can also play a key in maintaining hygiene standards. Polyethylene is non-blunting, non-absorbent and doesn’t harbour bacteria. Poly tops can also fit into the standard cleaning procedures alongside the tables on which they sit, including wiping down every ingress.
You’re cleaning equipment and furniture procurement choices play a central role in reducing risk and eliminating uncertainties. Moreover, taking the time to assess the hygienic qualities will allow you to operate more efficiently in reducing clean down times, which will have a positive impact on operating expenses over time.
Article by Sue Springett, Commercial Manager, Teknomek