Thursday 30 May 2024

How to Avoid Cross Contamination in a Food Factory

Cross contamination is one of the biggest risks in food production and can lead to food poisoning outbreaks if proper precautions are not taken. Controlling cross contamination in a food factory requires careful planning, training of staff, and use of hygiene equipment and processes. This article will provide an overview of key steps food factories can take to avoid cross contamination between ingredients, products, and surfaces.

Segregate Ingredients and Products

One of the first steps is to keep raw ingredients separated from other foods at all stages of production. For example, meat, poultry, fish, and eggs should be stored and prepared in different areas away from ready-to-eat foods. Colour coding equipment, utensils, and storage areas can help staff clearly identify which zones are for raw versus cooked foods. Transferring ingredients and products between zones should also follow a strict protocol to avoid mix-ups.

Use Dedicated Equipment

Having dedicated equipment and tools for handling specific ingredients prevents the transfer of bacteria between high-risk raw foods and other products. Labelling mixers, slicers, conveyors, containers, and other equipment to indicate their designated foods will help avoid confusion. Regularly cleaning and sanitising all food contact surfaces and equipment between tasks is also key.

Implement Zoning

Factories should establish clearly defined zones designating areas for low and high-risk foods. Dry storage, raw ingredient handling, preparation, cooking, cooling, packaging, and finished product storage zones should each be separated and only authorised staff allowed access. Proper airflow between zones, kept at different pressures, can help contain any airborne contaminants.

Control Personnel Flow

Employee workflow should also follow zoning rules. Staff working with raw meat or eggs should restrict their movement to avoid spreading pathogens to other areas. Having hand wash basins, protective clothing, and boots at zone entrances enables proper hand and garment hygiene practices between areas. Access to food zones should be restricted only to essential staff.

Use Hygienic Fixtures

Installing measures hygiene cleaning equipment like knee operated sinks and sanitising stations makes it easier for staff to clean their hands frequently. Boot scrubbers and sanitising foam baths at zone entrances enable thorough dirt and bacteria removal from footwear. Automatic door openers also eliminate recontamination of clean hands from door handles.Factory managers can find most essential hygienic process equipment at AES.

Train Staff in Food Safety

Providing regular training to reinforce good food hygiene practices is essential. Staff handling raw ingredients should be instructed in proper cleaning procedures before entering finished product areas. Training on contamination risks, hand washing, protective clothing rules and health reporting responsibilities also helps mitigate risks.

Control Supplier and Transport Hygiene

Raw ingredients should only be sourced from approved suppliers with documented hygiene standards. Edibles should be transported in clean, dedicated vehicles to prevent bacterial spread from other loads like waste or chemicals. Packaging integrity should be ensured so spillages of raw juices or ice do not leak onto other foods.

Test and Verify

Conducting environmental microbial swab testing and product microbiological checks at multiple points validates the effectiveness of zoning and hygiene procedures. Any positive results should trigger a root cause analysis and corrective actions like increased sanitation or process improvements.

Preventing cross contamination requires strict adherence to segregation, zoning, equipment control, personnel hygiene,and verification testing. With proper facility design and staff training, food factories can help ensure product safety for consumers and avoid the costs of recalls and liability from foodborne illness outbreaks.

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