Keeping listeria and other food contaminating bacteria at bay is imperative to improve food safety in any processing plant. One false move and you could be shelling out thousands, if not millions, in product recalls, lawsuits, and replacing of equipment.
While sanitary equipment design plays a huge role in increasing food safety and decreasing the risk of contamination, there is another factor to consider: the personal hygiene practices of your employees.
Inadequate Hygiene Risks
Inadequate hygiene and sanitation practices of your employees can cause:
- Food contamination
- Food poisoning
- Spreading of infection
Failing to wash hands after handling product, change gloves, cleaning tools or utensils, or wearing appropriate hair nets, all can lead to contaminated food product that is dangerous to release into the marketplace.
Keep Contamination at Bay
The good news is: increasing food safety and keeping contamination at bay (at least due to inadequate personal hygiene) is as simple as properly training your employees in adequate hygiene practices. The following tips will help increase your food safety efforts:
Your mother was right: always wash your hands! Dirty hands are prime culprits of transmitting contaminates to food. Always require employees to scrub (not just wash) their hands after:
- Touching food product
- Smoking or chewing tobacco
- Eating or drinking
- Taking out the garbage
- Touching body parts, such as the mouth or nose
- Going to the bathroom
- Before performing the next job function
Here are tips to make sure your employees are adequately washing their hands:
- Use as hot of water as the hands can comfortable stand
- Use a brush for nails to remove contaminates under the nails
- Wash for 30 seconds: hands, wrists, forearms, and any other area that came in contact with food product
- Rinse thoroughly and dry using a single towel or hot-air dryer
Go the next step further and provide your employees with a hand sanitizing station. The extra level of cleaning will kill any lingering bacteria, especially if hand washing wasn’t as thorough as needed.
Employees should change gloves used to handle food product whenever they finish touching something that would require them to wash their hands. Contaminates can stick to gloves as well as hands. Change gloves frequently to keep contaminates from spreading.
Wear Hair Nets
The average person loses about 50 hairs per day — most of which could end up in your food product if not careful. Requiring employees to wear hair nets while working in clean areas or with food will keep hair from landing in your product.
Stay Home if Sick
Coughing and sneezing can easily contaminate food and the work area with germs. If employees are sick with a cold or sore throat (or any serious infection or sickness), require them to stay home to avoid contaminating your food product.
Sanitize Shoes / Boots and Aprons
Whenever entering or leaving the food work area, employees should clean and sanitize their shoes or boots and any aprons. Contaminates can enter the clean area from foot wear and aprons, and work their way into your product. Proper food safety protocols include a clean room upon entering and exiting the work area.
Consider including the following sanitation equipment in your clean room:
- Apron wash
- Boot wash
- Hand sinks and sanitizers
Proper sanitation and cleaning of equipment is essential to improving food safety. Any tools that come in contact with food, or used in the food production area, needs to be properly sanitized — including hand-held equipment.
Make sure your clean room includes equipment wash stations for those hand-held tools. Major equipment, such as conveyors, dumpers, carts, vats, and racks, require special equipment to clean.
Stock Your Clean Room
Providing an adequate clean room will go a long way to helping your employees maintain adequate personal hygiene when working with food product. Apron wash, boot wash, equipment wash, sinks, sanitation systems, boot racks, apron racks — all necessary in a clean room — are a great start to keeping your employees from accidentally contaminating food product.
If your clean room is in need of updating, or you have yet to stock your clean room with adequate equipment, Fusion Tech can help provide the necessary tools and equipment to increase the food safety of your plant.