Plant management must ensure hygiene, cleaning and sanitation is a top priority to minimise the chance of recalls, according to the founder of a US company that provides products and advice to the food industry.
Bob Serfas, president of R.S. Quality Products (RSQP), told FoodProductionDaily.com that plant management needs to have well thought out sanitation plans in place, along with good training for the employees.
“It’s imperative that upper management realizes the importance of good sanitation and cleaning practices.
“Sanitation workers need to feel upper management is supporting them. Care must be taken to choose the proper cleaning tools; think quality tools rather than the lowest price.”
He added that once the tools are purchased, they need to be well maintained and suggested hanging them on a rack and or storing them in a locker.
RS Quality offers a range of brushes, handles, mops, squeegees, scrapers, shovels, containers and more with many available in up to 10 colours.
Colour coding expansion
Serfas said the past few years have seen many food processors expand their colour coding programs to include tools to handle allergens.
In the US that currently includes soy, wheat, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, milk, fish and shellfish, while other countries recognize additional allergens.
“This can make designing a colour coding program quite challenging, as sometimes the cleaning tool you need is not available in enough colours.
“We are constantly updating and increasing our inventory to handle new tools in new colours.”
He added that there are no government agencies that mandate colour coding be used in a food plant at the moment but suspected the situation may change in the future.
A sample plan of colour coding can include white for food contact surfaces, blue for non-food contact surfaces, red for sanitation, green for maintenance, grey for waste or trash and black for floor drains.
Different for food
He said that in general, cleaning tools used at food plants must be of better quality than those used at an industrial plant.
“They should be well designed and high quality, with hygiene, durability and safety in mind.”
Serfas said that brush blocks should be plastic rather than wood and bristles should be a high quality synthetic instead of a natural bristle (horsehair or plant fibres for example).
Scrapers, shovels, squeegees, should also be designed with sanitation in mind, one piece where possible for easier cleaning.
“The idea is to minimize the risk of the tool breaking and getting into the product. When possible, brushes should be resin-set (bristles glued into the block) rather than staple set, especially if the brush will be used in a food contact area.”
Metal detectable plastic tools can also be used to reduce pieces getting into the final product, Serfas explained.
The firm distributes for many of the items sold, but also manufactures fibreglass, aluminium and stainless steel handles in house with the metal handles having coloured grips to satisfy colour coding programs.
When asked what the worst case scenario was, he identified product recall as the main issue: “If a plant does not take hygiene, cleaning and sanitation seriously, the chances of a recall go way up.”