Many food processing factories are still wanting cleanliness and sanitation requirements. Inadequate sanitation may result in poor food quality and safety, which may subsequently result in losses, for instance, merchandise recall cost, legal responsibility expenditure, and market loss. As the existing international obligations support HACCP operations, it is vital that the food processing plants lay the solid groundwork towards this obligation, with the intention that they can contend in the global market. This directive is formulated to help the industry to attain a higher paradigm of food safety and hygiene to achieve the fundamental conditions of HACCP (Penna, Mazzola & Martins 2007). This document presents a summary of Irish operational legislation concerning plant hygiene and plant layout and segregation requirements for high, medium, and low-risk foods. It as well underscores the importance of disinfection agents and the organization of sanitation programs.
Food Processing Plant Hygiene
Food production factories produce many products that sustain and feed the world community. Growing demand for processed foods has led to the intensification of processing and preservation methods that have an insignificant impact on either the nutritional qualities of products. Attributable to the use of little preservation technologies to processed products, sanitary processing devices, and a hygienic practice atmosphere is necessitated to keep off bacterial, chemical, and other contaminants from influencing these products while preventing food contact to dust and contaminated areas. Incorporation of sanitary atmosphere and procedures into food processing factories assists to deter the intensification of microbes and microorganism areas, avoid food infection with substances and particles, help in sanitation, and preserve clean conditions before and subsequent to production (Baş, Yüksel & Çavuşoğlu 2007). This document supplies information concerning food processing plant layout and zoning requirements for high, medium, and low-risk foods. It as well outlines several elements of organizing a factory sanitation program and provides Irish operational guidelines concerning food processing factory hygiene.
Operational Irish Legislation on Factory Hygiene
The Irish law on factory hygiene describes the operational conditions that food processing plants are required to abide by. Compliance with the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) guidelines on sanitation and hygiene is significant for all food processing factories in Ireland. The Food Safety Authority of Ireland as well notes that all food plants, whether working from business areas, in the home or from a food stand, should be mindful of the legislation concerning food sanitation and safety. Food Safety and Hygiene Regulations 2013/2996 regulate the processing and selling of processed food products in Ireland (Egan et al., 2007). The guidelines partly implement European Commission Regulation 853/2004, on certified regulations on factory hygiene. They do this by setting the hygiene regulations to signify the 2013 Regulations in conjunction with the European Commission Regulation (Garayoa, Vitas, Díez-Leturia & García-Jalón 2011). This stipulation provides regulation on all the operational obligations about different classes of food production concerns. Moreover, any plant should abide by the pertinent conditions of Regulation 2013/2996 in their production processes, in addition to other supplementary health provisions. The Food Safety Act performs regular inspections of certified processing plants in Ireland. In Northern Ireland, these reviews are performed by the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) for the Food Safety Act (Baş, Yüksel & Çavuşoğlu 2007).
Suitability, Application, and Effectiveness of Disinfection Agents
An efficient cleaning and disinfection program in food processing zones of a Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) factory is vital to guarantee the safety of the products. Producers are being held to a high benchmark when it pertains to product safety and hygiene by regulatory authorities who are progressively demanding legalization proof to support cleaning and disinfection processes. Regulatory agencies nowadays demand proof of the effectiveness of disinfection agents against ecological isolates (Egan et al., 2007). The Food Safety Authority of Ireland directive for food processing posits that the suitability, effectiveness, and application of disinfecting agents and processes should be evaluated. The efficacy of these sanitizers and practices should be assessed by their capability to certify that possible pollutants are sufficiently isolated from plant surfaces.
Basic knowledge regarding the effectiveness of different chemical agents against ecological bacteria, fungi, and spores will aid in choosing disinfection agents. Requirements for food processing zones entail readily cleanable surfaces, floors, and roofs that have smooth, non-permeable floors; temperature, and moisture regulations; sanitation and cleaning practices to create and sustain sterile conditions. These conditions, together with a cautious and comprehensive assessment of the disinfection agents applied for sanitation and disinfection strategies should result in attaining the particular hygiene standards and regulation of microbial pollution of food products (Garayoa, Vitas, Díez-Leturia & García-Jalón 2011). In current years, the application of antiseptics in food processing plants, clinical installations, and related regulated settings has been the topic of inspection by regulatory authorities.
It is imperative to understand that disinfectants do not commonly eliminate all the microbiological niches with which they touch and do not sanitize against all microorganisms uniformly the same. Some decontaminators do not destroy microorganism spores. A cleaning agent that is efficient against microorganisms may not be as efficient against viruses. There are numerous proprietary products obtainable and they differ in their efficiency against bacteria. Suitable disinfectants contain the manufacturer’s guidance on the precise antimicrobial activity of the cleaning agent. The performances of good disinfectants are not affected by the availability of other materials in the areas to be cleaned. Materials such as detergents, heat, and pH do not minimize the effect of suitable disinfectants (Egan et al., 2007).
Organization of sanitation programs
Regardless of how big or small a business is, a food production plant should consider food hygiene and the interest of public hygiene as its first precedence. Starting recalls can be expensive and exhaustive, thereby minimizing production and output. Generally, it requires some years for an organization to pick up from a food-borne infectious epidemic that has emerged from its factory. However, some organizations never even recover. It also requires several years to formulate a productive product and win customer allegiance, whereas it can take only minutes to demolish it. Successfully teaching workers to assist to avert these unpleasant impacts and attain the company’s food hygiene and safety objectives. All food producers must contain a well-built food safety training program that comprises a broad program and responds to the questions of who, what, and why related to food hygiene practices. A well-built training template assists guarantee food quality, a reliable product, and a hygienic atmosphere under which foods are processed (Mensah & Julien 2011).
Shortage of suitable sanitation programs in food processing organizations can make the organization incur huge losses. Habitually, many companies do seem to recognize the impending dangers due to the poor or lack of a proper sanitization program. This peril arises in terms of end-users dissenting from the company, products, poor staff morale from frequent blames by the administration, hidden spoilage challenges, and substandard food quality. The obvious sanitary dangers noted by food processing companies are frequent complaints and regulatory authorities’ involvement due to deteriorated sanitary conditions or public complaints (Mensah & Julien 2011). Poor hygiene results in increased refutations of products by customers, reduced product life, as well as losses to processing companies. Additionally, poor sanitary conditions on a company’s processing premises can attract the risk of possible plant closure by regulatory authorities. Appropriate sanitation programs established at the right time compensates more than it costs.
If executed efficiently, food hygiene, quality, and cleanliness, education assist to guarantee a harmless product for consumers and eventually guards the company brand. Actually, without education, people and organizations are expected to form shocking practices that can be expensive and hard to rectify. It may be hard for some workers to understand terms such as zero tolerance, fault action ranks of causative microorganisms. Even though most food plants contain competent administration knowledgeable in food hygiene, it is at times a setback to express the ideas they identify and comprehend to actual production workers: those who are directly involved and that deal with the production foods. It is important, therefore, for a good organization to establish which ideas will be incorporated in teaching, and the precise approach regarding how to communicate these concepts (Penna, Mazzola & Martins 2007). This task should be customized for every single institution because the variables and academic levels of workers vary among organizations and within businesses. A food hygiene program should commence with the essentials. This implies basing the program on Good Manufacturing Practices regulations. The GMP program should be performed at any rate yearly and entail education for workers and administrative staff. The GMP program should encompass all elements of modern GMPs named in the Code of Federal Regulations. It is also advisable to put exceptional prominence on the worker sanitation features of this regulation in any food sanitation program (Egan et al., 2007).
Putting on uncontaminated garments assists to avert the generation of microorganisms. By demanding that things like clean dust coats and aprons be supplied to every worker at the factory, the company can facilitate to avoid the transfer of dangerous microorganisms. Building hygienic and well-kept changing areas considerably eliminates the dangers of cross-infection within the factory. The organization should present a place for employees to keep private things. Training should concentrate on keeping public regions, particularly hygienic. Throughout the day, more workers will go in and leave public regions, comprising the changing room, washrooms, disinfectant storage areas, food-processing, and non-food-processing zones, escalating the possibility for contamination. When more workers touch possible pollutants, there is a greater threat of shifting them to food processing surfaces. Astringent rule on handwashing should be in position, and the entire staff should be provided with training concerning good hand washing practices.
Plant Layout and Segregation Requirements for High, Medium and Low-Risk Foods
Plant layout denotes the general plan of a processing project facility. It progresses through a number of levels before it is concluded. The stages involved are recognition and choice of food to be processed, viability study and assessment, design description preparation, purchase of equipment comprising apparatus and machinery building, and fitting. The design should take into account the technical and hygienic aspects, different unit operations concerned, available and prospective sanitary conditions to mention a few. Several aspects of factory design for food factories are similar to other factories, especially those producing industrial compounds. The design and arrangement of the food processing plant should be tailored to the sanitary stipulations of a particular procedure, packaging, or warehousing area. A processing factory’s interior should be designed to ensure there is a flow of material, employees, air, and garbage in the proper route (Aarnisalo, Tallavaara, Wirtanen, Maijala & Raaska 2006). Nevertheless, there are numerous noteworthy variations, essentially in the fields of hygienic conditions and working area layout.
Battling food infection may take place not only at the apparatus level but as well at the plant level. Integration of the sanitary plan into a food production plant can avert the growth of bugs and microbiological populations; prevent food pollution with chemicals (such as disinfection agents, oils, and peeling tint.) and particles (such as broken glass, sand, iron.); help disinfection and cleanliness and safeguard sterile situations both before and after processing. The plant infrastructure can be so planned and built that it cannot infect food products, openly or not directly. Several food processors only use the typical food conservation technique to ensure food hygiene. In the last twenty years, nonetheless, the European Hygienic Engineering and Design Group have established that the sanitary layout of food process equipment and plants can considerably lead to improved food hygiene (Ansari-Lari, Soodbakhsh & Lakzadeh 2010). Zoning and the institution of barricades to guarantee that food of satisfactory hygienic value is processed should only be used where their application will assist extensively to guard products. Planning the whole plant as a Cleanroom is not the rationale of food region segregation to shield both food and user. Zoning and barricade technology should be used in a suitable and regular manner, thus preventing unneeded investment. To maintain a plausible increase of processing activities in the factory, in years to come, the factory layout has to be designed in a manner in which the factory can be enlarged (Van Donk & Gaalman 2004).
Segregation Requirements for High, Medium, and Low-Risk Foods
The zoning of food processing plants in several controlled regions helps uphold the sanitary conditions of the plant. These restricted areas have different sanitary requirements and stipulations regarding the admission of persons in the zone. The restricted areas predominant in various food plants entail high, medium, and low-risk food regions. A high-risk food region refers to an area where the greatest level of sanitation is essential. A high risk food zone, which, in food processing is the similarity of a Cleanroom, has to be entirely out of bounds to unnecessary individuals. High-risk food region represents an open area processing, where even minute contact of food with the atmosphere causes a food safety hazard (Reij & Den Aantrekker 2004). Foods and constituents produced in these restricted food zones are used to feed extremely susceptible user groups such as newborn babies who consume foods produced under strict hygiene conditions. The types of food processed in these zones must be kept in cold conditions, to prevent contamination by microbial microorganisms (Kletz & Amyotte 2012). Utility piping in the passageways of high-risk food zones should be fitted into wall cubicles or the roof. When this is not practical, open racks can be attached to the ceiling and walls and near the ceiling.
Nevertheless, adequate space should be left between pipe layout and adjacent areas in order that they are easily reachable for cleaning and repair. The pipe layouts in this zone should be planned hygienically to reduce the existence of flat ledges, gaps, or slits where unreachable filth can build up. Food processing piping should be openly laid from service areas to process zones and should at all times be consistent and uncomplicated (Byrne, Lyng, Dunne & Bolton 2008). Because utility and process piping can have an effect on or interrupt the air circulation in a high-risk food zone, a fog trial can manage airflow designs. Exhaust pipes should have enough capability to eliminate surplus heat, dirt, steam, aerosols, and smells from processing areas. Conversely, a positive overpressure should constantly be preserved. Lighting should light up parallel and perpendicular working areas uniformly, without inducing glare. Partitions and ceilings must be light-painted to allow fast discovery of dust and dirt on their surfaces. The objective of these food zones is to prevent any form of food contamination threats and to protect food processing equipment from contact with atmospheric air.
Medium-risk food zones require a normal level of sanitation. These zones include process areas in which easily containable foods are produced, but whose end-user is not predominantly vulnerable and where no extra bacteria growth is feasible in the food supply chain. Foods processed in medium-risk areas may be exposed to the external surroundings, for instance, during selection and transport to other processing areas. Medium risk food areas endeavor to adjust the increase of injurious microorganisms from reaching other food sensitive areas (David, Graves & Szemplenski 2012). These zones are relatively spacious and have a complex layout design since the level of processing and sanitation in these areas is average. Their primary objective is to protect the interior of food production equipment from contact with microbes in the air.
The low-risk food area is the last form of food plant segregation. These are areas that require an average standard of sanitary conditions. These are areas outside the processing rooms within the factory premises that provides general support and security to the processing zones (Lehto, Kuisma, Määttä, Kymäläinen & Mäki 2011). Examples of low-risk areas are storehouses that are warehouses and power stations. They have a plain layout plan, which simplifies cleaning, and maintenance operations.
As the existing international obligations support HACCP operations, it is vital that the food processing plants lay a solid groundwork towards this obligation, with the intention that they can contend in the global market. Similar to utility piping, the food production support channel should flow one way, with the support channel flowing from the northeast zone toward the least clean zones. Processing systems should convey a certain procedure aid initially in the high-risk area and last in the lowest risk area. Incorporation of sanitary atmosphere and procedures into food processing factories assists to deter the intensification of microbes and microorganism areas, avoid food infection with substances and particles, help in sanitation, and preserve clean conditions before and subsequent to production. This assists to avoid production losses and serves to improve food hygiene.
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