Food for thought: the complete guide to cleaning and sanitation in food manufacturing plants

Food for thought: the complete guide to cleaning and sanitation in food manufacturing plants

  • April 12, 2022
  • in Blog
  • 103

Cleaning and sanitisation assume foremost importance in any manufacturing plant, but none-more-so than in food and drink production. Governed by increasingly stringent regulations and continually facing concerns about contamination, maintaining a clean environment is fundamental to keeping manufacturers out of the headlines and the courts. SBFM explores the route to clean manufacturing environments.

The food manufacturing sector, understandably, is held to exceptionally high standards when it comes to hygiene and cleanliness. Exacting Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) regulations that underpin production, and the growing external scrutiny of hygiene breaches, contamination and resultant food recalls, means the industry is particularly susceptible to risk.

Add to that the close proximity in which workers operate during specific food processing activities, increasing the possibility of the transmission of potentially harmful illnesses, andthe threat grows further.

Although never mutually exclusive, the health and safety of food manufacturing workers, the production capabilities of a plant, and cleaning and hygiene regimes are now arguably more entwined and jointly dependent than ever before.

The path to cleaner and safer food production facilities, while certainly not straightforward, often begins with several foundational steps.

Understanding your facility

The diversity of the manufacturing sector means no two plants are the same. From the more traditional human-centered methods to machine-reliant assembly lines, and even highly automated factories, processes and equipment can vary widely between facilities. So too can the number of operatives present on any given day.

And with many manufacturing sites containing buildings from factories to warehousing and even office space, the diverse nature of estates requires careful and considered planning when it comes to facilities management (FM).

Gaining a comprehensive understanding of manufacturing activities, building occupancy rates, and areas that require additional attention due to high usage or levels of footfall can help shape highly tailored FM and cleaning regimes that delivery meaningful results.

Innovative digital tools – such as cutting-edge footfall analytics and data insights – are fundamental to this. By removing many of the inefficiencies inherent in following standard, routine cleaning schedules, cleaning teams are better equipped to meet specific customer and operational demands.

Highly accurate footfall technologies count people entering or exiting the building and track occupant behaviour while in work, providing critical insights into how to improve cleaning operations and staff scheduling. Be that by assessing traffic flow and forecasting the busiest periods or highlighting elevated footfall hotspots to establish effective cleaning schedules at the most appropriate times.

Considering compliance

As one of the most heavily regulated and carefully monitored industries in the UK, the food sector is subject to more stringent hygiene and health and safety legislation than most. 

From Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) regulations to British Retail Consortium standards and even health, safety, and environmental legislation, manufacturers demand a pro-active regime of audits, inspections, and spot checks to maintain exacting standards and ensure compliance. Taken all together, this can be deemed a considerable hurdle to overcome.

Working alongside an experienced and knowledgeable FM partner can mitigate many risks of non-compliance. By introducing detailed processes for cleaning practices and arming on-site operatives with easy-to-follow task cards and comprehensive training programmes, all regulations can be adhered to, and fines avoided.

Taking on feedback

The role of feedback in shaping commercial cleaning and soft FM services is becoming increasingly important. Particularly in the highly populated and fast paced world of food manufacturing. The ability to facilitate quick and easy reactions from those at the heart of any site can be highly beneficial to maintaining exacting standards and meeting operational requirements.

Intuitive technologies such as zonal QR codes for issue logging can enable building occupants to not only provide real-time feedback, but also report any issues to the on-site cleaning team that need addressing promptly, such as spillages.

Remaining agile

The events of the last 18 months have shone a significant spotlight on the importance of agility and resilience for many businesses. From COVID-19 to Brexit and supply chain disruption, the food manufacturing sector is no stranger to stepping up to meet new challenges, and with consumer trends and technological advancements continuing to reshape the industry, agility with be fundamental in 2022 and beyond.

Flexibility, therefore, has become a critical component of any FM and commercial cleaning strategy. FM providers will need to adapt to significant changes in client expectations, site requirements and operational practices, shifting away from the rigidity of long-established rotas and timetabling. Whether that is focusing greater attention on high traffic areas, timing cleaning regimes for non-peak periods, or even increasing the visibility of cleaners during working hours to provide great reassurance to employees.

As a trusted provider of commercial cleaning and soft FM services for some of the UK’s leading manufacturers, SBFM is uniquely positioned to serve our clients in the sector with reliable, efficient and transparent cleaning strategies.

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