Drainage design and food safety

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Cleanliness isn’t only about what’s visible. Behind seemingly clean food preparation environments, there lies a potential hygiene risk. Drainage maker ACO can be part of the solution to this problem.

Ultimately, food safety is about ensuring the food we eat is free from contamination. To do this, food preparation areas must be as clean as possible. The aim must be to prevent work areas from becoming breeding grounds for pathogens such as listeria and salmonella and to limit their spread into other areas of the business.

In food processing plants, the possibility for bacteria to grow exists everywhere from tea towels, utensils and appliances to the floor below. For consumers, the consequence of not addressing this problem can extend to food poisoning, allergies, severe illness and even death. With an increased demand for fresh, ready to eat food and specific dietary and allergen requirements, the pressure is on for food manufacturers to provide safe products.

Every food production and retail facility should understand the need for hygienic practices, identify potential hygiene weaknesses and have a Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) plan in place. HACCP is a process designed to mitigate risk and ensure the highest level of cleanliness for maximum food safety.

How do drainage systems contribute to hygienic practice?

More often than not, after benchtops, appliances, equipment, cupboards and walls have been cleaned, cleaning water and products are swept or washed into the drainage system via grates and then into the floor gully. Therefore, it is crucial that grates and drain systems are thoroughly cleaned.

In many systems, the design of grates, floor gullies and drainage channels makes them difficult to clean thoroughly. This creates potential sites for the growth of bacteria, which can subsequently spread via foot traffic or washdown spray.

ACO is committed to hygienic drainage systems. Under its Hygienefirst philosophy, the company designs grates, gullies and channels for performance, safety and “cleanability”. Ensuring products are completely clean allows for high hygiene levels for food production facilities.

“The drains primary objective is to remove wastewater, be easily cleaned and subsequently be kept clean. If drainage is designed and installed correctly, it will reduce the bacteria that can harbour in joins, corners or crevices that occur with poor designs, thereby reducing the overall risk of contamination and food spoilage,” said Kate Jennings, product manager, ACO Australia.

Some of the key elements in the ACO design include the absence of joins and crevices where bacteria can build up; as well as sharp corners which can be difficult for brooms, mops and cleaning fluids to adequately reach and clean. In addition, drainable design ensures residual contaminated wastewater will not pool or stagnate.

Made of stainless steel for corrosion resistance and easy cleaning, ACO’s grates, floor gullies and channels are constructed with round edges for safe and easy handling, and smooth contours that won’t trap contaminants. In addition, the grates are slip resistant and minimise the risk of workplace injury. ACO recommends a standardised cleaning procedure for their stainless steel channels, drains and floor gullies. (See accompanying box).

For the most part, the level and frequency of cleaning is determined for the most part by the room’s hygienic risk profile. For example, in areas where food preparation is carried out for ready to eat meals, the moisture level of the food is high and therefore more likely to encourage bacteria growth.

“Assessing the risk with HACCP will determine the frequency and depth of the clean,” said Jennings. “Regular maintenance and inspection is often overlooked and must be part of the overall cleaning procedure for the floor and drainage system to ensure a safe food preparation environment.”

Drainage systems with corners and crevices make it difficult for cleaning with brooms and mops as the bristles cannot reach to remove waste products.
Drainage systems with corners and crevices make it difficult for cleaning with brooms and mops as the bristles cannot reach to remove waste products.