Sometimes the most significant environmental threats in a food processing environment are the most difficult to see because bacteria and other pathogens are invisible to the naked eye. Although daily sanitation can reduce these threats to safe levels, areas that are left untreated are at the highest risk for the growth of pathogens and the formation of biofilm. Addressing these hidden environmental threats is essential to maintaining food safety and quality standards.
Hidden Environmental Threats in Food Processing Facilities
Bacteria and other unwanted microorganisms can grow and thrive in many areas within food processing plants. Some of the most common areas include:
- Hollow stainless steel tubing
- Broken or cracked concrete
- Walls that are not structurally sound
- Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems
Of course, every facility is different, so it’s important to conduct a risk assessment at each processing plant to identify potential hiding places.
When pathogens are allowed to grow in areas not regularly treated with sanitizer, the results can be devastating. Biofilms can form, making it even more difficult to kill the microorganisms within. This can lead to cross contamination, production line shutdowns, food recalls, and damage to your brand. By being proactive and addressing hidden bacteria before they can grow and thrive, you can avoid these costly consequences.
Addressing Environmental Threats with Hygienic Design
When building new food processing plants or redesigning existing ones, hygienic design principles can reduce the number of hidden threats. Here are some ways to incorporate these design principles in your processing plant:
- Perform a risk assessment to identify potential biological, chemical, and physical hazards.
- Minimize roughness on surface finishes to make cleaning easier for the life of the equipment.
- Use materials that do not encourage bacterial growth and are appropriate for food contact.
- Create surfaces and use equipment that is self-draining to avoid standing water.
- Ensure equipment is easily disassembled for cleaning or designed to clean in place.
- Ensure welds are clean, especially on invisible interior surfaces, to avoid creating places that harbor bacteria.
- Minimize or eliminate hollow areas in equipment.
- Reduce the potential for cross-contamination by creating work zones and designing spaces for one-way traffic flow.
- Document, inspect, and validate cleaning processes.
Of course, not all older plants can easily conform to hygienic design principles, and the process can be costly. Legacy equipment might have degraded materials, hollow tubing, or other hiding spots that harbor bacteria. Until equipment is upgraded and spaces redesigned, adjust your sanitation protocols to include products and processes for addressing hidden threats.
Addressing Environmental Threats with D7
D7 is a patented sanitizing and disinfecting solution based on a formulation developed to address unknown chemical and biological threats. Because it is so versatile, the product has been commercialized for many industries, including food processing.
D7 smart foam has low surface tension, allowing it to stay on non-horizontal surfaces and expand into small areas to eliminate potential issues. The product can also be applied as a spray, fog, mop, or soak, depending on the areas that need to be treated.
This foam can reduce pathogens in or on:
- Concrete flooring
- Clean-in-place systems
D7 fog or spray can reduce pathogens in or on:
- Hollow tubing
- HVAC systems
The product is EPA-registered to tackle the most common foodborne pathogens and remove biofilms. The detergents in the product’s unique formulation can penetrate biofilms and cell walls, meaning no mechanical scrubbing is required. This reduces labor and minimizes downtime between production runs, which is a big win for FSQA managers.
If you would like to learn more about how D7 can remove foodborne pathogens and other biological contaminants in your facility, schedule a consultation today.