Protecting consumers from cross-contamination.
Moulds, yeasts and bacteria are found throughout food production facilities; on the floors, walls and ceilings of production areas, packhouses, and cold stores, on floors, in ventilation systems, and in cooling towers.
Airborne microbes, including high risk pathogens such as Salmonella, Listeria, and E. coli, as well as moulds and spores, can be carried through the air or condensation and contaminate food and preparation surfaces. Cross contamination has a big impact on food production:
- Consumer health risk
- Shorter shelf life
- Reduced quality
Production lines that deal with a variety of different foods run the risk of allergen contamination between lines and after product changeovers. Food allergies affect around 5% of adults and 8% of children. Symptoms range from itching and vomiting through to trouble breathing and falls in blood pressure. Severe food allergies can be fatal.
Controlling cross contamination through effective and efficient cleaning processes minimises waste and maximises product safety within food production facilities.
Protecting staff from hazardous cleaning chemicals
In order to reduce contamination from either microbes or allergens, food production areas have to be cleaned regularly. This involves the use of cleaning chemicals that can be harsh on the users’ skin, and can increase the risk of asthma. Some cleaning products also leave a taint that can affect food, and requires additional rinsing steps.
Using cleaning solutions that are less harmful to operatives, and that require fewer steps so involve shorter exposure, can protect staff from avoidable harm.
Protecting the environment and the locality
Food processing uses large quantities of potable water, and generates waste water contaminated with cleaning chemicals, and with food waste, including fat, oil and grease. This cannot be disposed of through the sewage system without further processing, and has environmental, as well as cost, impacts. Using less water creates a stronger effluent which is more cost-effective to treat on site.
Traditional cleaning requires heating large volumes of water to 70˚C, and maintaining the water at this temperature. This creates a lot of condensation, which increases the risk of microbial contamination. The cleaned equipment and its environment must then be chilled back to the required temperature to reduce the impact on food quality and cut the risk of microbial growth. All of this increases the energy costs and increases the need for fossil fuel use.
Using cleaning solutions that are less damaging to the environment, and that require less water and energy, will have a positive impact on cost, innovation and eco credentials.
Damage to the environment and illnesses in consumers and staff relating to product contamination, cleaning chemicals and resources overuse is damaging to both manufacturers and suppliers, as well as costly:
- costly legal action
- costly product recalls / penalties
- loss of reputation
- loss of business revenue
Improved cleanliness and better resource use reduces the risk of damage to reputation and to the profit line.