Welcome to Total Tips, a regular column by plant building and design provider, Total Construction about how businesses can ensure they have well-designed, well-functioning manufacturing facilities that give them the best chance to prosper. This issue we hear from Tom Franks, a design engineer at the company.
TIP 2 – Building to hygiene standards helps ensure a clean working environment and decrease the risk of future food safety issues.
Food safety is priority number one for food and beverage manufacturers. As the recent Australian listeria outbreak illustrates, failure to properly address the issue can lead to illness or even death of the people who matter the most, consumers. On top of that are the business costs. Food safety scares can shut down operations and, worse, significantly damage the reputations of food manufacturers.
Maintaining a clean and safe environment all starts with the design and building of the manufacturing facility.
Designing the facility
When it comes to design, there are many rules to follow. Facilities in this sector must not only conform to the National Construction Code, but also to food and beverage design and hygiene standards. On top of that some buyers, such as Woolworths, have their own standards above and beyond the national standards.
Many factors – including bacteria and microbial growth, disease, vermin, and bugs – need to be considered when designing a facility. A good fit out methodology can help reduce the risk of contamination. Employing smooth and impervious surfaces allows for ease of clean down in operations. Areas where this can help include food grade stainless steel; epoxy resin flooring, sandwich panel walls and ceilings; coved and sealed junctions between floors, walls and ceilings; sealed concrete; and so on.
The presence of a food literate process engineer and a food hygienist can help businesses determine what design features will be required and where.
For example, it is important to ensure there are hand wash basins for employees to use after touching food, sneezing, or coughing. Also, there should be sanitation stations at all entries into production areas; male and female change rooms should be provided, with boot scrubbers or boot change areas with swing over benches if required; and colour coded clothing and tools can be used to identify employees working in high or low risk hygiene areas.
The pooling of water where dirt and grime are present can help listeria breed and grow. Good facility design which ensures all floors have appropriate falls to drains can prevent this. However, it is not only pooling on the floors that can cause problems. Drain pipes themselves can also play a big part in bacteria growth. Thankfully, the use of backflow prevention valves in pipes helps prevent this from happening.
Understanding how the client wants to run the facility from entry to exit, knowing the number of employees, and so forth all help to design a safe facility with appropriate hygiene systems.
Building the facility
From time to time, Total hears people describe food factories as “just boxes”. This is, of course, incorrect and, anyway, it’s what is inside the box that matters. If good hygiene practices are not in place, kitchens and food preparation areas can provide optimal environments for bacteria to breed. Minimising the risk of cross-contamination and spread of bacteria and ensuring proper hygiene are critical elements in ensuring the well-being of staff and consumers.
Total has vast experience in the food and beverage manufacturing sector. The company’s deep understanding of hygiene requirements means that they can be relied upon to deliver not only well-functioning, hygienic facilities, but also peace of mind.