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4 Steps to Improve Food Processing Plant Hygiene

Contamination is a significant concern in any food production facility, from prepared foods to raw ingredients. This means that hygiene needs to go beyond hand washing and mopping the floors — it also has to include the proper layout and zoning, using the right equipment, having cleaning schedules, and so much more.

Proper food processing plant hygiene is not only vital to the success of the facility and safety of workers and consumers, but is required by law. Facilities that fail to adhere to the hygiene requirements set forth by the government can face serious penalties, fines, and legal problems.

Here are the steps you need to take to ensure your facility is as sanitary as can be.

1. Proper Zoning and Layout

Zoning is the separation of areas in a facility, with each having different hygiene requirements. There are three zones to consider: Zone B, where hygiene concerns are minimal; Zone M, which has medium-level hygiene concerns; and Zone H, where hygiene concerns are greatest. Applying zones effectively and consistently is imperative in maintaining high standards of food processing plant hygiene.

The layout of your facility is also critical. It should make sense and be adapted to the zoning and hygiene requirements of a given process. Materials, personnel, air, and waste should all flow in the correct direction in relation to one another. For example, wastewater should flow in the opposite direction of your manufacturing process.

Raw materials and ingredients should go from one end of the facility (the "dirty" area) to the other (the "clean" area), where the processed food is prepared for packaging and shipping. In contrast, waste materials should flow in the opposite direction to avoid the contamination and degradation of finished products.

2. Pest Prevention

Pests such as rodents, insects, and birds can create hygiene issues in your facility, as they can bring with them their own assortment of bacteria, disease, and other pathogens.

As preventative measures, facilities should be built higher than the surrounding ground, and exterior doors should not open into the production area, which should also be free of windows.

All loading docks should also be built above ground and with sloped floors to allow for water runoff, including proper drainage. Roofs and canopies with bird spikes can be added to your docks to protect products, while preventing birds from roosting, which can lead to serious sanitation problems. Further protection from insects can be provided by air curtains or plastic strips, as well as strategically placed lighting and UV grids.

3. Proper Drainage and Construction Materials

All the construction materials in a food processing facility must meet specific hygienic requirements. They should be made with smooth, non-absorbent, and non-toxic materials and should be chemical-resistant and physically durable. Wherever possible, materials should be unbreakable, temperature- and moisture-resistant, and resistant to abrasions and chipping.

While areas without food contact can include lower-grade materials, food production areas require high-quality finishes. All materials should be easy to clean and maintain, especially your drainage, which can be one of the largest breeding grounds for bacteria if not considered carefully.

A floor drain system requires sufficient water capacity to prevent overflow, which leads to contamination. FoodSafe Drains’ linear Slot Drain system is a unique option that comes pre-sloped and pre-assembled and doesn't require a grate cover. These high-capacity systems are made from food-grade stainless steel, making them resistant to chemicals, corrosion, extreme temperatures, odors, and bacteria.

Furthermore, the 10,000 Series model has a high load-bearing capacity, making it ideal for food processing plants. These systems are also easy to clean and offer automated clean-in-place options such as our Flush-Flo attachment.

4. Cleaning Schedules

Even with the proper zoning, layout, pest control measures, and construction materials, if a facility isn't cleaned regularly, the hygiene level will suffer. Therefore, a regular cleaning schedule and strict procedures need to be developed and provided to employees.

Every part of the facility needs to be cleaned accordingly to ensure adequate sanitation. Beyond that, employees should receive training on cleaning procedures to ensure they know how to keep the facility clean and free from contamination.

Even with automated cleaning systems, inspections to ensure all dirt and debris is removed are critical. When these systems are in place for any part of the facility, ensure that employees know to make the proper checks and perform extra cleaning duties as necessary.

Protect Your Facility

Food processing plant hygiene is essential to running a contamination-free facility. While hand washing and proper employee attire are important, the above-mentioned steps are even more crucial to your success.

Without the right zoning, layout, materials, pest control measures, and cleaning schedules, a facility will face hygiene and contamination issues and some less-than-stellar inspections.

Even the smallest mistake can lead to serious consequences, with immediate costs and a potential hit to your reputation. Therefore, it is vital to plan a facility thoroughly to ensure the proper food processing plant hygiene from top to bottom.

Improve your food processing hygiene with a FoodSafe Slot Drain system. Contact us today to discuss your food processing facility drainage needs. Our experts can provide you with a custom solution for your entire facility, including slot drains, trench drains, and area drains.

Simple sanitation starts here

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