Smart Plant Design Prevents Foodborne Illness
Chipotle Mexican Grill is a case study in how foodborne illness can change a brand’s reputation from trusted to tainted. Two E. coli outbreaks linked to the chain sickened 58 patrons in 12 states.
The outbreaks began in October, 2015. The Food and Drug Administration continues to investigate the source of the bacteria.
People are sickened from food prepared at home, restaurants and in food plants. There are more than 250 known foodborne diseases, according to the CDC. They may be caused by viruses, bacteria or parasites.
Many of these illnesses can be prevented through the proper handling of food. Designing food plants to support sanitary practices is key to safety and disease prevention.
Clean Plant Design
Safe food handling in processing plants begins with facility design and equipment installation. Before the conveyor belts roll and workers slip on their hairnets, basic tenets of good design need to be addressed.
- Separation of raw foods. Plants need separate areas for raw, cooked and ready-to-eat foods. Facilities should include segregated areas for employees who handle each type of food.
- Temperature and humidity control. Reliable systems to control the plant’s temperature, humidity and air quality are vital to preventing the growth of bacteria.
- Durable materials: Equipment should be built to stand up to frequent cleaning by harsh chemicals. Construction materials must be immune to temperature variations used in food preparation.
- Plant renovations. Food plants need to be flexible to meet consumer demands. When a plant is redesigned, safe food handling should be a priority. Before changing a layout, safety managers should audit the facility. A risk analysis can compare existing and proposed designs.
Equipped for Health
The right equipment can prevent safety breaches. Install equipment to meet your facility’s requirements. Machinery can be designed with both sanitation and efficiency as goals. Here are a few examples of how equipment construction affects safety.
- Don’t give bacteria a leg to stand on. Table and equipment legs in food plants require a special design. The number and types of legs can be chosen to reduce the possibility of harboring disease.
- No place to hide. Eliminate cracks, nooks or other areas that moisture and bacteria can accumulate. Crevices are difficult to clean and easy to overlook.
- Smooth moves. Smooth attachments and welding methods should be chosen. They will further reduce areas where bacteria can thrive.
- Make the grade: Flat washing stations where water pools can host bacteria. Surfaces should be graded to prevent standing water where contaminants may linger.
Missouri’s Experts in Industrial Design
Approximately 1 in 6 Americans suffer from illness each year caused by contaminated food, estimates to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Of those sickened 3,000 will die.
Maintaining a safe, sanitary facility is a continuing challenge for food processors. With the right factory layout and equipment, employees will better be able to adhere to your company’s best practices.
The industrial construction experts at Storee can help you build a factory that’s sanitary from the ground up.