This article originally appeared in Food Manufacturing's November/December 2014 print issue.
The Food Manufacturing Brainstorm features industry experts sharing their perspectives on issues critical to the overall food industry marketplace.
In this issue, we ask: What plant cleanliness techniques and best practices can food manufacturers employ to improve food safety in their facilities?
Food safety starts with sanitary plant design. Ensure your facility’s layout separates production areas that house uncooked products from areas that house cooked, ready-to-eat (RTE) products. Also incorporate segregated welfare areas such as locker rooms and cafeterias to separate employees who handle raw product from those who handle RTE products. Within areas, plant engineers should constantly be monitoring and maintaining temperature and moisture control to eliminate the growth of bacteria and microorganisms.
Inadequate equipment design decisions can create cleaning challenges that are often the root of food safety issues. As food processors upgrade and renovate a plant, confirm that all equipment manufacturers are well versed in sanitary equipment design. Equipment should be free of nooks, cracks and crevices to eliminate potential harborage areas for microorganisms to cultivate. Plants should also seek to minimize flat surfaces, so angles on equipment should be curved or rounded with a quarter-inch or more radius.
Keep in mind, new equipment should be installed by someone experienced in sanitary installation. Carefully screen your contractors to these parameters. Key areas to address include dead-leg piping and how to avoid it as well as acceptable methods of constructing the piping system so it can be kept clean. Your contractor should understand standards and specifications used in the practice of sanitary design as they relate to different industry sectors.
Establishing proper programs, monitoring and documentation of food safety practices is crucial to maintaining plant cleanliness. These should address Hazard Analysis & Critical Control Points (HACCP) procedures, Current Good Manufacturing Practices (CGMP), quality assurance (QA), regulatory compliance and sanitation procedures. Be sure to document all cleaning procedures, inspections, food safety issues found and food safety issues addressed.
Kurt Warzynski, Vice President of Process Engineering, Stellar