Cleaning crew impacts food safety at new processing facility

Posted in: Building Engineering, Food & Beverage

facility-cleaning-300x200pxTraining your sanitation crew to address the unique issues in your new food processing plant is critical. This small step may significantly reduce food safety issues.

A new facility and process equipment will reduce food safety issues. Adding a well-trained cleaning and sanitation crew is a great insurance policy. This is especially true for additions and renovations where the crew has learned how to clean a less than ideal space.

Imagine the following scenario:

A facility is famous for producing high quality products. However, facility age, layout and space have begun to limit both production quality and quantity, so a new facility is needed. An expert consulting team designs a new state-of-the-art facility, which skilled contractors build. Knowledgeable process vendors then install and commission the processing equipment.

Yet shortly after production begins, the facility quality control manager finds high levels of mold in the new facility. The new HVAC system operates differently than the old system. As an owner, you might ask:

  • Was the facility designed properly?
  • Was the equipment installed properly?
  • Were there any issues that were found during construction that might not have been solved correctly, like a leaky roof or faulty utilities?
  • Are the wooden pallets that store bulk food ingredients a breeding ground for mold?

These are all great questions to investigate further. However, don’t overlook the cleaning and sanitizing process. Instead, you might consider these questions:

  • Was the sanitation process updated with the building’s new features, equipment and material finishes in mind?
  • Was the crew trained to operate, clean and maintain the new equipment?
  • Does the building feature any complex architectural features like high ceilings or unique finishes that may require challenging cleaning procedures or different chemicals?

The best way to find out is to observe the cleaning process. It may be quickly apparent that the cleaning crew is still operating as though they are cleaning the old space. Unless they have adapted their sanitation methods to suit the new facility, they may not be cleaning the new space adequately.

After all the money and time spent on designing and building the new facility, it is always a good idea to review the sanitation process. The new space may require a different cleaning approach in order for the new facility to remain clean and sanitary.



As an electrical engineer and project manager, Brian Dunn, P.E., has prepared and coordinated construction documents for industrial processing plant design, direct industrial power design and extensive lighting design. Brian has more than 20 years of experience in a traditional architectural-engineering office, a progressive design-build firm and an energy consulting firm. During that time, Brian has been trained in HACCP and FSMA requirements. In his spare time, he enjoys hiking, mountain biking and kayaking.

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