Published on June 8th, 2021 | by Sunit Nandi0
How to Maintain Hygiene in Food Production Environments
Maintaining hygiene throughout food production environments is critically important, but how can we be sure we are doing all we can to ensure good hygiene?
Anywhere and everyone involved in food production must protect the public. Many dangers must be addressed to protect human health throughout the four main food processes (production, processing, preparation and distribution). Data collected by the World Health Organisation reports that around 600 million people fall ill every year due to eating contaminated food. A staggering 420,000 people die as a result. When with care, attention and a few simple hygiene measures in place, this is easily preventable, businesses must take the appropriate action to reduce these staggering numbers.
Cross-contamination is one of the most significant hygiene risks within food-producing environments. Cross-contamination is the transfer of allergens and other foreign substances from one surface to another, usually resulting from poor sanitary procedures and inadequate equipment. Strip Curtains Direct explain more.
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The three most common courses of cross-contamination
There are many different causes of cross-contamination, but three are more common than most. These include people, who are the likely most common cause of food contamination as they handle the food. Employees take or distribute food and move from one area or production line to another without washing hands or transferring germs on their clothing.
The food itself can cause cross-contamination when raw food is placed near cooked food, such as raw meat juices dripping onto other food when moved or stored. Bacteria spread and finds its way around commercial kitchens, food manufacturing and retail outlets.
The third is dirty equipment. Regular cleaning of kitchen equipment is critical to ensure cross-contamination does not occur. Equipment that is not thoroughly cleaned harbours pathogens, and this can cause bacteria to grow and spread.
As well as the risk of cross-contamination, food is at risk from exposure to incorrect or inadequate storage. Adequate cold-storage provision, temperature regulation and anti-microbial protection are other areas where premises not suitably equipped run the risk of causing harm.
How can we prevent problems?
The first step must be human awareness of the dangers through training programmes. Businesses must ensure adequate training in the risks involved is undertaken and understood by all employees. After all, you can have all the hygiene equipment needed, but employees who do not understand the importance of processes and procedures and carry them out properly could make such equipment irrelevant.
Another essential step in preventing cross-contamination and maintaining hygiene is to keep raw and cooked food areas separated. Colour coded storage and equipment helps employees easily identify the different equipment and workspaces for each location. PVC strip curtains can be used to segregate and prevent cross-contamination as they are non-porous and prevent bacteria from growing and restrict the movement of airborne particles between areas.
Employees must understand and actively clean. Effective cleaning prevents cross-contamination and, therefore, the transmission of harmful bacteria. Equipment and surfaces should be cleaned down and disinfected between tasks. It is essential that clothing and gloves are clean and disposed of safely when finished with. Employees should also take care not to move from one area to another whilst wearing dirty clothing.
It comes down to the measures taken by those responsible for setting up and maintaining food production and preparation premises to ensure they have the right equipment in place and that staff are trained to use it and understand the importance of maintaining good personal and premises hygiene. Only by having a holistic approach to training, equipment and sanitation can a business avoid potential hygiene pitfalls.