HACCP – Real work wear solutions
Choosing the right work wear for your staff involves more than just getting a good price, particularly when adhering to HACCP standards. Fortunately there are some comprehensive solutions that can contain costs while ensuring absolute hygiene and food safety.
What is HACCP? HACCP – the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point system is a process control system that identified where hazards might occur in the food production process and puts into place stringent actions to take so as to prevent the hazards from occurring. By strictly monitoring and controlling each step of the process, there is less chance for hazards to occur.
Why is HACCP important? By controlling major food risks, such as microbiological, chemical and physical contaminants, these hazards are greatly minimised.
What is the status of the adoption of HACCP within the meat and poultry industry? Many of the nation’s meat and poultry processing facilities have implemented some or all of the HACCP principles into their operations. Failure to do so may render the Company or its directors legally liable for damages suffered or for injuries sustained as a result of their failure to implement HACCP principles.
It is vitally important that management and staff understand the function of the work wear. Although cleanliness is a primary factor, the real purpose is to ensure food safety and protect the product from contamination.
Employees and other people entering a food processing area could contaminate the product by introducing microbiological, chemical or physical hazards. Many facilities manage this risk through plant layout and movement controls, however, appropriate protective clothing and footwear is absolutely essential to minimize the possibility of contamination and to ensure food safety.
For this reason, selecting the right work wear is as important in a HACCP compliant facility as the actual food processing itself.
Employees in the food industry should not wear their issued work footwear outside of the workplace and should not wear their casual street shoes inside of the workplace. The one reason for this is simply that of hygiene. The outsoles of street shoes contain filth and contaminants such as vehicle residue, soil acids and faecal or urinal bacteria.
In terms of garments, the right quality fabric is essential in ensuring functionality, absolute hygiene, endurance through frequent washing according to the type and level of soiling, as well as comfort.
In terms of hygiene, the work wear must be designed to ensure maximum coverage, without the possibility of creating fluff and without design elements where pathogens and other contaminants could gather.
For example, overcoats should cover the entire body, cut close to the neck and featuring both an extended length and elasticized cuffs. To prevent any possible areas where contaminants could accumulate, the overcoats should, for example, have no pockets, or have specially designed protected pockets. Instead of buttons, zips or the like, overcoats should have concealed and covered press studs and trousers should have drawstrings. All work wear should be made of the highest quality material that is crease resistant, heat resistant and anti-static, and does not create fluff.
In terms of comfort, employees should have their own sets of work wear which fit comfortably and do not impede their ability to perform their tasks. By choosing good quality garments, featuring the company’s branding and perhaps personalised with each employee’s name, companies can extend the hygiene benefits to also creating a professional image for the company, with employees proudly wearing their comfortable and attractive work wear, which can improve staff morale and build team association.
The laundry of work wear is another issue management needs to consider carefully. Clearly home laundering by company staff is completely unacceptable and would entirely negate the HACCP effort. In a food production environment where the soiling is extensive, stains are a given and hygiene is of the utmost importance, work wear has to be changed at the very least once a day. This means just dealing with the laundry arrangements can become a management nightmare.
The laundry process is more than just throwing the dirty laundry into a washing machine. The work wear must be sterilized to prevent re-contamination. Since all known pathogens are destroyed at 121°C, the laundry process must at least reach this temperature. In addition, the laundry process must be designed to eliminate any pathogens that might survive the laundry process, for example, through high temperature drying processes, and special care must be taken that no laundry chemical residues are left on the garments.
Considering all these factors, butchers, bakers and other food manufacturers are well advised to partner with a reputable company that will not only be able to supply the right work wear, but can also advise and assist with the repairs, replacements and laundry issues to manage costs.
There are several reputable suppliers of work wear who can help food manufacturers to implement practical and effective solutions to ensure the work wear contributes to the overall HACCP system. There are also suppliers who can assist with the setting up of an in-house laundry facility with the right equipment and the right chemicals to ensure work wear is always presentable, hygienic and safe for use in food production areas.
Another option that addresses all the issues surrounding the right work wear is outsourcing the entire operation, from selecting the right garments to caring for the work wear and repairing and replacing the garments where necessary.
For example, First Garment Rental / Bidvest Laundry Group offers a complete outsourcing and rental solution. Firstly, employees are individually measured and the correct garments for the industry are then tailor-made and individually marked with the names, clock numbers and logos. This ensures absolute comfort and the wearer, always assured of wearing his/her own garments, can take pride in his/her own work wear. The number of garments per employee depends on the number of changes required, but a system is implemented to ensure there are always at least one set of work wear being worn, one in the laundry and one in the store as a backup.
Managing work wear is an important component of any HACCP programme and food processors should investigate the various options available to ensure they choose a solution that allows them to maintain absolute hygiene, without detracting their focus from their core business.
For more info on First Garment Rental/Bidvest Laundry Group click here …….