Every day, we take food safety for granted. Whether we’re walking into our favourite grocery store or fruit and veg shop, we expect the food we pop into our trolley to be safe and hygienic. The reality is that this safety doesn’t happen without stringent safety and hygiene processes in place. This is why food manufacturers are so crucial to all of our lives.
Cleanliness and hygiene in food production and manufacturing is a high-stakes game. It’s not just about business risks. There’s the genuine possibility of harming people and legal obligations to consider. That’s why it’s essential to never leave anything to chance in your food production area.
As a food manufacturer, or if you package or prepare food, here are five key areas to focus on from a hygiene and cleanliness perspective.
1. Start with a cleaning plan
It’s possible to keep your entire manufacturing or preparation area completely clean and hygienic with a proper plan. Everyone on-premises should understand their role in the process, with cleanliness top of mind every step of the way.
This removes any doubt about what employees should be doing when they should be doing it, and why it is important.
A cleaning plan should include the following:
What to clean: Be specific in terms of listing every object and surface that should be cleaned. Be extensive and ensure that your process guards against any cross-contamination. Regular hand washing should be included.
When to clean: Thinking an area looks clean is not enough. The bacteria and viruses you guard against can grow into invisible colonies without a sanitisation schedule that covers every surface and corner where food is manufactured and prepared.
What cleaning tools to use: The nature of food means that you cannot simply wipe surfaces down. Using the wrong cleaning chemicals can even be toxic if exposed to food. The correct cleaning materials, Food safe cleaning agents and even specific equipment are necessary to ensure a spotless environment.
PPE: The correct PPE protects employees and the food being manufactured or processed. The PPE that each employee should wear must be listed in the plan and enforced.
The correct disposal of waste: Proper waste disposal should be outlined in the cleaning plan. For example, scrubbing a surface and then using a dirty cloth on another surface will only result in cross-contamination. Rules around how to handle dirty sponges, cloth’s, sponges, and even cleaning water should be highlighted in the cleaning plan and part of the overall process.
2. Clean surfaces regularly and well
Food manufacturing and processing facilities all have two things in common. They deal with many different foods (many of them allergens) and have a limited workspace. Unfortunately, using the same surfaces to process various foods is the primary cause of the cross-contamination of viruses and bacteria. The only way to prevent cross-contamination is to ensure these areas are disinfected often and well, specifically between different food groups.
It’s also a good idea to consider what a surface is. Many manufacturers and food processors include preparation surfaces in their cleaning plans, but they forget about other common surfaces that everyone touches, including door handles, mop handles and buckets, canteens, shared tables and chairs, light switches, refrigerators, and even walls and floors.
3. Clean equipment with the correct products
As we’ve seen, clean equipment is essential in the production, preparation and manufacture of food to guard against cross-contamination, viruses and bacteria, but there are cleanliness considerations for the equipment itself. For example, regular cleaning prolongs the life of the equipment. Similarly, it is essential to use the correct products for each piece of equipment that ensure proper sanitation without being abrasive to the equipment.
Here are a few simple tips that will help you prologue the life of your equipment while also meeting health and safety standards:
- Ensure all equipment is simple to clean.
- Ensure your cleaning and disinfecting procedures and products do not damage equipment in any way.
- Rinse cleaning agents properly to ensure no potentially toxic residue is left behind.
- Put regular maintenance schedules in place for all equipment.
4. Instil a culture of cleanliness
Effective and consistent cleaning won’t happen without effective employee training and the constant monitoring of employee performance. Remember, cleanliness is constant, which means it needs to be part of the process and it must become second nature. Training that educates around the importance of hygiene and cleanliness and that links the important role that all employees play in food safety is therefore vital. It’s a responsibility that people will embrace if they understand the importance of cleanliness and hygiene – and the dangers of non-hygienic behaviours when it comes to food manufacturing and processes.
It’s a good idea to create feedback loops within your monitoring processes. A plan is one thing – what happens, in reality, is another. Employees must be able to share their experiences and any challenges they are subjected to in order for processes to be improved upon.
5. Work with food production hygiene specialists
Food hygiene specialists have the experience required to ensure that all surfaces and equipment that come into contact with food are not contaminated with any harmful bacteria through best-practice cleaning and sanitising techniques and products. Best-practice cleaning and sanitation procedures ensure that all unwanted build-up of dust, soil and food matter is removed, that the transmission of bacteria and human diseases through foods is prevented, that the risk cross-contamination of allergens is reduced and that the shelf life and quality of foods are improved.
Capability with a HACCP certification focus on agile cleaning solutions in the food manufacturing and handling sectors. This provides technologically advanced cleaning solutions that increase productivity and provide clean, audit-ready facilities for our clients
What we focus on
- Audit compliance – FSSC & AIB standards
- HACCP implementation and cleaning methodologies
Keep your manufacturing and production workplace hygiene up to the correct standards! Find out more here!