With the spotlight on hygiene in the food manufacturing industry, the prevention of cross-contamination has never been more important.
However, if business is booming enough to expand or refurbish your site, how do you ensure that hygiene levels remain stringent, and that daily operations remain consistent while building work is carried out?
There's so much to consider when planning the design, construction and fit-out of a food-related operation. While construction is a necessity, it isn't always possible or practical to close down sections or halt production in a food production area. It has to be 'business as usual' for our clients.
To achieve this aim, as well as maintaining complete safety for staff, and minimising any potential risk or cross-contamination, we implement strict controls that have been developed in our High Care Control Charter.
This sets out the methods we adopt on all our high-care environment projects and the construction controls and procedures we use. These are project specific risk assessment, creation of working zones using robust, dust-proof temporary screens capable of maintaining the necessary air pressures, construction of temporary airlocks with zipped double doors for access and egress of materials and personnel, and the use of tacky-matting as dust traps in all access points of the working area.
The Charter is in addition to the standard health and safety regulations adhered to on a construction site and our quality management systems in line with ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001.
We also use careful planning to minimise disruption to daily activities. The consequences are far too great for any company to ignore, but good planning and open communication goes a long way towards a project being delivered safely, on time and to budget.
We identify the potential risks at the outset and plan to prevent them. Inexperience of construction in high care environments can carry potentially disastrous financial consequences and brand damage.
Before any building work begins, I urge food companies to ensure their building contractors undertake the following criteria on all projects as a minimum:
- Single point of contact for Hygiene Management.
- Detailed risk assessments and method statements focusing on contamination control.
- Creation of working zones by using robust dust-proof barriers.
- Daily inspection of the integrity of the working zones.
- The use of zipped double doors for access and egress of materials and personnel.
- Sealing of all ventilation ducts within the working area.
- Careful routing of all staff and materials through the premises to avoid those areas thought to be most sensitive and vulnerable.
- Constant use of protective garments such as gowns, masks, hats and overshoes in required areas.
- The construction and use of a designated change area at the point of access/egress for the removal of contaminated garments.
- The use of exclusive designated lifts or hoists for materials in and of the site.
- All waste to be removed in sealed trolleys, trolleys to be 'cleaned' prior to exit from working area.
- The use of 'tacky-mat' dust trap matting at all access points to the working area.
- The single use only of dust sheets.
- Sealing of windows where applicable.
- Creation of negative pressure working areas where necessary.
- Secure system of access and egress from site to ensure no unauthorised personnel are present.
- Daily cleaning schedule within the working area.
- Cleaning schedule for areas near but outside the immediate working area.
- Regular spoil removal from the working areas.
- Eliminate water leaks that can produce damp, fungal growth.
- Inspection and cleaning of ducts, grills and filters after completion of works.
- Thorough clean of working area (including above false ceilings, ducts grills etc) after completion of works.
- Hygiene inspection and certification of working area prior to handover of working area to client.
Adam Bell is MD of Building Projects (UK), one of the few specialist high-care construction businesses operating within the food industry. Contact Adam here.
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- Food > Confectionery
- Beverage > Dairy
- Manufacturing > Processing
- Packaging > Labelling
- Beverage > Soft Drinks
- Beverage > Tea & Coffee
- Foodservice > Vending
- Beverage > Water
- Beverage > Coolers