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Preventing Contamination in Food Processing Plants
Chemical, microbial, and other types of contaminants pose a serious threat to any facility dealing with food. Maintaining the highest level of standards is critical to the existence of any food processing business. There are extensive regulations from the Australian government with regards to the prevention of cross-contamination at all plants engaged in food processing. Contamination of the end product not only leads to serious business loss, but may also cause a significant harm to the reputation of the business.
Though this industry is extremely sensitive to contamination, several steps can be initiated by the plant authority to prevent contamination in food processing.
Enforcement of Hygiene Standards: It is extremely important for food processing plant workers to follow proper and adequate hygiene standards. All workers should clearly understand how and when they should wash their hands while handling any contamination prone item. The employer must ensure that all workers use gloves while handling food materials. Also, the plant must have a comprehensive rulebook to ensure that new bacterial species are not introduced to the system through the workers. For example, removal of jewellery and other accessories must be made mandatory for all workers before entering the processing area.
Use of Enclosed Systems: Prevention of cross contamination requires that different processing stages and food items are maintained separately. This key objective can be accomplished by keeping the various departments of the plant well enclosed. Sterile environments may be required for some of these processing rooms. Enclosures are also essential in certain areas to ensure that hazardous fumes and chemicals are not able to escape into areas where wearing protective gear is not mandatory for the workers.
Colour Coding: Colour coding of different equipment used in food processing can help prevent cross contamination. This practice makes the cleanup process easier for the workers. One particular colour can be used for cleaning contact surfaces that are pasteurized. On the other hand, a different colour can be used for non-food contact surface cleaning.
Heating: All food processing facilities require the correct shell and tube heat exchanger for heating different products adequately so that the bacteria gets eliminated. Some operators may believe that this job can be performed effectively by any heat exchanger. However, the correct equipment size depends on several factors such as heating requirements, type of products, and the amount of products manufactured. Therefore, ideally, a food processing unit should seek assistance from a heat exchanger professional to address this confusion.
Airlock Doorways: Doorways play a significant role in allowing contaminants to escape into sensitive areas within the plant. The risk of contamination can be restricted significantly by using safe and air-locked doorways. These doorways can also be used to protect sterile processing environments from the contaminants.
Employee Training: Even the best of protective measures may not deliver the desired outcome, if the employees are not able to use them properly. Therefore, it is important for the plant managers to conduct training programs to make all employees aware of the causes and consequences of contamination. Also, these training programs must be conducted in compliance with food safety regulations.
Separation of Food Items: It is important to remember that raw food items account for most of the contaminants in a food processing plant. Therefore, these items must be kept separately. The same applies to food materials that are clinically proven to cause allergies. The chances of cross contamination can be reduced significantly by creating a design plan for keeping different items permanently separated from each other.
Cleanliness: The importance of cleanliness is not only limited to the interior of the processing plant, but also its exterior part. It is a known fact that pests and small animals easily get attracted to grounds that are overgrown and unclean. These unwelcome guests can infiltrate and contaminate a plan in no time. If the outdoor areas are messy, there is a high probability of dust and dirty water potentially making its way into the plant interior along with harmful contaminants. Therefore, the plants must employ sufficient number of ground staffs for maintaining a clean and hygienic plant exterior.
Healthy Workforce: A food processing industry involves a significant amount of human interaction with different food items. Therefore, the chances of food contamination are significantly less in a processing plant with a healthy bunch of workers.
If you have more questions about protecting your food processing plant from contamination or any other potential issues, please contact us without any delay whatsoever. At Lumix, we have answers to all your food processing related concerns.