The food and beverage industry has lots to contend with when dealing with the cleaning, sanitisation, and disinfection of a food processing facility. In the UK the food industry is dealing with high demands for ready-to-eat, ready-to-reheat, and chilled foods, and as a consequence food manufacturers are now even more susceptible to the risks posed by harmful bacteria.
These can be found in a number of places throughout a food processing facility and accumulate as a result of several poor practices. Exposure to these harmful bacteria can lead to cases of severe contamination with devastating outcomes for consumers.
As such, it is important to ensure industry-standard hygiene, cleaning, and disinfection standards are adhered to. Utilising the cleaning solutions and equipment designed for the food and beverage industry.
Common bacteria and viruses found in food processing
Some of the most common bacteria and viruses found in food include:
- Clostridium perfringens
- E. coli
These and others are known for causing foodborne illnesses. Leading to sickness in many patients and sometimes hospitalisations and even fatalities. Therefore, for those in the food industry, the importance of keeping a facility sanitised is not just for hygiene reasons but also to protect public health.
Typically, some of the pathogenic foodborne bacteria can be found in raw meat. This includes E.coli and Salmonella.
When cooking safely and kept at the correct temperature, all foods should be safe to consume and will not make you ill. It is when they are not handled correctly or are prepared in unclean environments that this becomes a hazard.
Contamination during food processing
There are many stages at which food can become contaminated, whether this is during harvest or slaughter, or as the food is packaged and prepared for consumption. When food reaches the processing stage, there are various ways in which this can become contaminated. This includes, preparing food on an unclean surface that has not been cleaned and disinfected, people touching the food with unwashed or unsanitised hands, the products being cleaned with contaminated water, or exposure to waste products or dirty utensils that results in cross-contamination.
Ways to reduce harmful bacteria in food processing
In order to reduce the risks posed by harmful bacteria within the food industry, a food manufacturer must adhere to industry regulations ensuring that their facility is managed efficiently. This includes maintaining stringent hygiene and cleaning standards.
To ensure a facility is clean, the right tools and services must be used. For example; Cleaning detergents for the physical cleaning of surfaces and drains; Providing food operators with regular access to hand hygiene products such as hand soap and sanitiser.
Implementing efficacious disinfection technologies including surface sanitisers and ozone technologies to eradicate bacteria; Correct training and access to cleaning instruction cards so operators know how to clean properly; Control methods to minimise unpleasant odours and prevent air pollution caused by bacterial and fungal growth.
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