Food plant processing facilities need to play detective when it comes to ensuring the safety of their clients. Microbial contamination can be found lurking in many areas of your plant and may not even be aware of it.
With increased scrutiny surrounding proper sanitation, many fresh-cut and produce processors are looking for ways to avoid risk and strength their food safety in their plants. Businesses must identify problem areas where pathogens tend to hide and create strategies to help them develop preventative measures in food safety.
Once you understand sanitary design principles in your plant, you will be able to identify the steps you need to take to reduce the causes of problematic pathogens like Listeria. Produce and fresh cut processing plants have an unique food safety concern; the absence of a kill step during processing, such as cooking which helps to eliminate
- Cracks and Crevices in Equipment
Your sanitation crew should be to reach and clean every part of the equipment, but machinery that has open seams, tiny gaps or lap joints make it very difficult to clean and ensure the elimination of microorganisms.
First step identify the areas of concern; then either eliminate or replace equipment.
- Tables and Equipment Legs
Inspect the legs of the tables in your processing facility. Hollow table legs should be permanently sealed. The legs of equipment that get bolted to the floor should also be hermetically sealed to avoid niches.
If you decide to move equipment around in your facility, especially equipment that has been bolted to the ground, make sure you fill and seal the holes in the floor.
- Control Panels
Control panels are red flag areas for pathogens with their unavoidably cracks and crevices around buttons and switches, but they're also sensitive to water.
However, the solution is to use low water techniques to clean and then consider adding a hand sanitation station nearby so employees can clean their hands before touching any other equipment.
Employees can be the biggest risk factor in your plant, as they can carry the pathogens from the factory other areas including their own homes. Controlling sanitation at the entry point is essential.
To mitigate the risk of spreading pathogens hitch-hiking on your employees, start with good hygiene training and the right protective gear to cover clothing and hair/beards etc.
Determine the areas that are high and low risk for your employee contamination. Your high-risk areas include anywhere a food product is exposed or handled.
You facility floor with its cracks and crevices is perfect for harboring pathogens.
If you use epoxy flooring make sure the coating is in good condition, preventing Listeria from creeping in.
- HVAC Equipment
Constant cleaning of your HVAC system should be part of your master cleaning strategy.
Most produce and fresh cut facilities are refrigerated, and facilities have multiple banks of overhead cooling coils. These cooling units should have condensate trays, or drip pans, that collect condensation falling from the cooling coils.
- Other Wet Areas
Any cold, wet area in your fresh cut or produce processing facility should be among the first places you scrutinize for food safety risks. This could include an area where, for example, leafy greens are stored after coming out of a hydro cooler and drip water onto the floor.
Having good drainage on the floors is a necessity because you need to get the water out of the facility and avoid standing water.
Drains are important in good sanitary design, however, they are the perfect place for foodbourne pathogens. That is why it's so important to understand how the drainage system works.
Ideally, drains should flow from the cleaner areas of the plant towards the dirtier areas.
Because pathogens and biofilms are often present in dirty drains, your sanitation crew should take care when unclogging or cleaning them. Drains should be cleaned early in the sanitation process, and specific tools used to clean them should be clearly labeled and color coded so they aren't used elsewhere in the plant.
Do You Need a Food Safety Partner?
MWAC can be your food safety partner. We take food safety and protecting YOUR brand and YOUR customers seriously. Our dedicated and trained team work along-side the owners and are committed to ensuring YOUR production floor is a safe wholesome environment; we guarantee on-time delivery.
With over 50 years in the Commercial Food Plant Sanitation Industry, our business is built on our reputation of quality service and we are proud of the fact that we have grown, fundamentally through referrals. Our experiences are diverse, with a portfolio of experiences ranging from food plant sanitation, janitorial services, supermarkets, retail, commercial, industrial warehousing and office cleaning.