Foot Wear can be a vehicle that transfers pathogens from one area of the plant to the other.
All food processing plants and pet food plants have hygiene as a central priority of their factory. They have signs about the plant reminding employees to wash their hands, they provide disposable gloves and hairnets, and constantly educate everyone on proper hygiene techniques. Yet, what can be often forgotten is their footwear.
Workers move about the plant, busy in their work. They don’t realize that though their hands are clean, their footwear is picking up pathogens along the way. Foot traffic can be a primary source of food contaminants. Shoes and boots come into contact with all sorts of bacteria and can carry into a plant just about every contaminant imaginable.
While clothing and outwear can be cleaned every night in the laundry, this is not an option for boots and shoes. Small traces can become lodged in the tiniest of areas. Even if employees put on special footwear just for when they enter the plant, it doesn’t mean that this footwear is hygienic.
According to one recent article, “many studies have demonstrated that surfaces in food manufacturing facilities, especially floor areas, can harbor and transmit bacteria and increase the risk of cross contamination. Footwear may act as a vehicle for the transfer of pathogens within production areas.”
If you want your plant to be compliant with FDA requirements and avoid any issues that could result in a contaminated product, then you want your employees to be hygienic from head to foot.
How To Avoid Issues with Footwear In Food Processing Plants
There are a number of options food processing plants and similar industries, such as pet food plants, can do to lower the risks of contaminants being spread through footwear. Some that are more effective than others.
Have Footwear Specifically for the Food Plant
Employees should have the proper footwear for working and for their surroundings. Footwear that is comfortable and also doesn’t have areas where contaminants can hide away. By providing them with shoes or boots that they wear exclusively for the plant, you at least avoid the issues of outside contaminants being tracked in.
This footwear still must be cleaned, however, as the biggest risk for pathogens is often what is inside the plant. Plant floors are regularly cleaned, but does everything make it down the drain.
Chemical Baths To Clean Footwear
For some factories the solution to keeping boots and shoes clean is to use chemical baths. The problem with these is that they need to be cleaned frequently as the footwear becomes filled with plant particles within the area they are walking about.
Keep the Plant Floor Clean
Many plants have floor drains and after each shift the floor is hosed down. Some used dry powered sanitizers, especially in area which have moisture. The powder is activated by the moisture and it begins to eliminate any pathogens. An automated foam sanitizing system is another option to prevent contamination. A thoroughly clean floor is a good first step in maintaining a hygienic environment, but with footwear it’s not just what is on the soles that can be a problem. Particle can land on the top or sides of footwear and then transferred to other areas, potentially contaminating the product.
Disposable Shoe Covers
The most common option is to have disposable show covers that slip over employees shoes or boots. This is an easy solution and relatively easy to implement. The drawback here is that they don’t cover the entire shoe and if employees wear boots, the exposed area is even larger.
Automatic Boot Washers
Just as employees wash their hands as they enter the plant, they can also wash and sanitize their boots. The crevices in footwear, where pathogens can be lodged, are a particular challenge to remove thoroughly and quickly. Boot washer equipment and sole cleaning machines operate with rotating brushes, designed to remove particles and sanitize areas on the boots and shoes, including crevices.
Automatically started by sensors, this equipment sprays jet water and sanitizing product, which can be set according to your company’s specific needs. It’s fast and easy to ensure the cleanliness of all employee and managerial foot bases.
Depending upon the space available, finding an area to operate equipment could be a challenge. This is why ITEC has designed many models based on customer suggestions. We have standalone boot washers and sole cleaners that take up very little space and can be moved around easily.
If you want to make your plant efficient and provide a work space that is as hygienic as possible, then contact ITEC America. We have products specially designed for food processing plants, pet food manufactures, and the dairy industry, including boot washers and sole cleaner.