Deep Cleaning Food & Beverage Facilities After a COVID-19 Shutdown

Deep Cleaning Food & Beverage Facilities After a COVID-19 Shutdown

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is disrupting normal operations for countless food and beverage manufacturers. Limited staff from illness, layoffs or social distancing requirements, additional sanitation requirements, changes in the level of production (up or down), and even facility shutdown have resulted in fewer resources and less focus on food safety sanitation. Manufacturers have a legal obligation to produce safe food and it is therefore essential that routine sanitation practices continue and that additional sanitation is performed after a period of shutdown. Employers have a legal obligation to ensure the safety of their workforce, including minimizing their risk of COVID-19 infection.

Sanitation for Food Safety

Below is a checklist of food safety precautions to take before reopening your facility.

Review your Sanitation SSOPs and ensure you have the right tools for the job

  • Review Sanitation Standard Operating Procedures (SSOPs) for required tools and equipment
  • Review your color-coding plan
  • Check all shadow boards, tool racks, and storage locations for tools that need to be replaced
  • Check all soap/sanitation chemicals to ensure they protect your facility and employees
  • Make sure you have ample, touch-free hot water sinks/wash-down stations for hand washing
  • Ensure all entrances to sensitive food prep areas have sanitizing foot baths to reduce contamination from shoes and boots

Check individual work stations to ensure compliance

  • Follow CDC/OSHA guidelines for proper social distancing and physical barriers/partitions
  • Ensure there is 6 foot distancing both beside and across from each worker
  • Ensure that all tools are present in their correct areas
  • Make sure tools match the established color-coding plan
  • Ensure you have adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) including gloves, masks/face shields, gowns, and shoe covers

Discard any tools that are damaged or that are in poor condition

  • Damaged tools can harbor microorganisms and allergens in deep gouges or cracks
  • Pieces or materials may break off in production areas, causing foreign-body contamination
  • Damaged tools can injure employees

Clean brand new tools before their first use in your facility

  • Even new tools could be contaminated with allergens, microbes, or foreign bodies
  • Manufacturers do not sanitize or sterilize tools before they are shipped to end-users unless they specifically state otherwise
  • Even tools that are individually wrapped should be cleaned before their first use

Clean existing tools

  • Tools that are not properly sanitized and dried after use or prior to shutdown may become a source of contamination on re-use
  • Cleaning and material handling tools themselves can be vectors for pathogens

Clean the nooks and crannies

  • Include spots or areas within the facility, equipment, or tools that are hard-to-reach or inspect
  • They are much more difficult for the sanitation crew to properly clean and disinfect. It’s critical to carefully clean: gaskets, hollow tubes and supports, rough welds, gaps in equipment, dead-ends, and joints and crevices

Sanitation for COVID-19 Control

This cleaning should be done on an ongoing and frequent basis when the plant is back in operation:

  • Surfaces that are commonly touched by employees should be cleaned more frequently, including: handrails, door push plates, turnstiles, utensils, cart and bucket handles, taps, hoses, cleaning tools, machine control panels, scales, and bulk ingredient bins
  • Use hygienic scrubbing pads for walls and drain brushes for floor drains where bacteria can spread unchecked
  • Consider adding a unique color to your color-coding plan to specifically clean these non-food contact surfaces
  • Tools should also be cleaned between use by different people to lessen the chance of spreading COVID-19

Train Staff on the Importance of Food Safety and COVID-19 Safety Plans

Training is an important step in building and maintaining a food safety culture. This applies to general food safety plans and enhanced COVID-19 safety plans. A culture of food safety includes:

  • Strong leadership that encourages cooperation
  • Ongoing food safety training for employees and higher-ups
  • Engaged and informed employees
  • Self-audits built into the work structure
  • An organizational structure that empowers employees who share responsibility for and are rewarded for practicing food safety
  • A robust food safety plan that contains preventative measures and controls
  • A continuity plan should you have a reduction in staff to ensure cross-training

How can we help?

We are dedicated to providing the highest quality hygienic cleaning and material handling tools to the most critical work environments. Please reach out to us at 800-672-8119 or via our contact form with any questions about how to best evaluate your current sanitation practices and tools.

Union Jack -- Your Partner in FSMA /HACCP Compliance

Keeping it Clean Since 2006

Jul 09, 2020

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