Sanitation and general food safety is critical at every level of food service. Though it’s especially important in food processing plants. Even the slightest error or failure to follow proper sanitation practices can result in a major shutdown from the health and safety department or OSHA. Not only can this cripple production, and lead to food supply chain issues, but it can tarnish your food processing plant’s reputation in the industry.
This starts with the basics like making sure that all countertop workspaces and food stations are kept immaculately clean to provide the ideal environment for every type of food preparation. This includes being mindful that all food processing equipment, storage spaces, and floors are also kept clean as well as up to all pertinent food safety codes.
While cleaning and sanitizing these areas should be done on a regular basis, it is just the tip of a much larger iceberg when it comes to meticulous food processing plant cleaning and sanitation.
Identifying Critical Areas For Cleaning A Food Processing Plant
The type of food being processed in your plant will influence which areas need the most attention, as well as the measures necessary to meet all health and safety codes. This includes safety regulations imposed by OSHA, the USDA, and the health department.
Cleaning & Thoroughly Sanitizing Flat Work Surfaces
In most food processing plants, the majority of work, prep happens on flat workstations and counters. This includes cooking stations that can easily get messy. Thoroughly cleaning, sanitizing, and maintaining these critical areas needs to be done throughout the work day to properly prevent any foodborne cross-contamination from occurring.
Ensuring that these stations are always clean and sanitized also helps maintain a healthy environment for customers and employees alike. A lot of times, these flat work surfaces also need to be sanitized to professional standards. Especially in commercial kitchens where a high volume of food is being prepared for human consumption.
This usually involves a simple disinfecting cleaner and close attention to detail to ensure these spaces are kept perfectly clean. Though many food processing plants also need thorough sanitizing with commercial-grade cleaning products and equipment during the off hours to ensure all potential microbial contamination has been eliminated.
Cleaning, Sanitizing & Maintaining Food Processing Equipment
Food processing equipment is the next critical component in the process. Every square inch of equipment needs to be cleaned with just as high of exacting standards as any cooking equipment or workstation surfaces. This often calls for using hot soapy water and professional-strength cleaning products to thoroughly sanitize to ensure safety from any foodborne contaminants.
At the same time, all of the equipment used to produce and manufacture food items always needs to be kept clean and properly sanitized. This includes scrubbing on a regular daily basis, as well as routinely scheduled deep cleaning. Placing items and components away in a spot so as to stay clean and away from other stations ensures a proper chain of cleaning and sanitation.
Cleaning, Sanitizing & Maintaining Food Storage Areas
Of course, the food prep stations and equipment aren’t the only things that need to be addressed in a food processing plant. Basic things like shelving, bins, and other storage areas used to keep food and hold food prep equipment also need to be kept just as sanitary as the rest of the food preparation areas.
Anytime that food prep equipment is used and returned, the storage areas needs to be reviewed as part of the standard operating procedure. If there is the slightest issue or concern, the storage area needs to be touched or sanitized again. Instilling this basic practice is the best possible way to maintain these areas and prevent cross-contamination. Staying up to date on the cleanliness of these locations also promotes clean food preparation organization practices throughout the food processing plant.
Cleaning Food Storage & Refrigeration Areas
Just like how food prep equipment needs to be stored in a clean and sanitized area, foods also need to be kept in pristine condition before and after processing. While refrigeration and freezing might inhibit microbes, an unkempt walk-in cooler or freezer will gradually become increasingly prone to cross-contamination.
Routine spot checks of all refrigeration areas need to be performed each day, with some basic cleaning and wiping down being done at the end of each shift.
Scheduling weekly, bi-weekly or monthly deep cleaning is also an important component of maintaining food health and safety codes. This consists of pulling out all racks and storage bins. Mopping and sanitizing floors and rotating any long-term stock.
Cleaning & Maintaining Food Processing Plant Floors and Walls
While food prep workstations, equipment, storage, and refrigeration areas are obvious places that need cleaning, you still shouldn’t forget about the routine cleaning needs of floors and even walls.
Throughout the course of a production day, your staff needs to be sanitizing, sweeping, and wiping up any food spills or debris. This includes even the most seemingly minor of crumbs, scraps, and drips. These simple messes need to be cleaned up on a regular basis while preparing the food as well as after, which should be done in a more detailed manner. Then at the end of each shift, all the tile floors need to be swept and mopped with a professional-grade sanitizer solution.
It’s also important to make sure that all walls are thoroughly wiped down and any major spills or stains are thoroughly scrubbed with a professional-grade sanitizing solution. Employees need to be instructed to mop up any grease, spills, puddles, or drips during as well as at the end of every shift.
These measures aren’t just only about preventing foodborne illness and contamination. They’re also about safety in your environment and keeping your workspaces clean and dry to prevent any slips and falls.
The Benefits Of A Professional Cleaning Service For Your Food Processing Plant
A lot of food processing plants either maintain their own dedicated custodial staff or contract routine cleaning services from a professional cleaning company like Building Services Inc. We can provide a custodial staff or schedule professional cleaning services to meet your needs.
Our highly trained cleaning specialists have access to the kind of commercial-grade cleaning products and equipment that your food processing plant needs to meet all pertinent health and safety codes.