Figure 1 is an example of an aid that could be used to train employees on the proper technique to use in washing hands:. Soap combined with scrubbing helps dislodge and remove dirt and germs. We recommend that employees be trained consistent with the level of complexity of their jobs and that additional training be provided as needed to ensure current knowledge of equipment and process technology. One goal of a training program is to help workers understand the importance of the tasks for which they are responsible, particularly those tasks that are important to minimizing microbial food safety hazards such as monitoring the disinfectant level in wash water.
We recommend that employees be trained about how to perform these tasks; to be aware of the microbial food safety hazards associated with them; to understand the procedures for monitoring conditions such as the disinfectant level, pH, and the temperature of the wash water, and any associated recordkeeping that the firm chooses to implement; to know the actions that are needed to minimize contamination of the product; and to consult with their supervisors if the established limits such as the appropriate level of disinfectant in the wash water are not met.
We recommend that personnel responsible for maintaining equipment that may have an impact on food safety be trained to understand the importance of their role in the production of safe food. Equipment maintenance jobs that may have an impact on food safety include changing water filters, maintaining refrigeration units, treating processing water, and calibrating equipment.
We recommend that employees be trained to identify deficiencies that could affect product safety, to take the appropriate corrective actions e. We recommend that employees with cleaning and sanitation duties be trained to understand the principles and methods required for effective cleaning and sanitation, especially as those methods relate to food safety. We recommend that supervisors be trained to identify and promote good sanitary practices. We also recommend that employees be trained in the proper use of sanitizing agents sanitizers and foot foam, foot baths, or spray systems, in proper cleaning and sanitizing steps of the equipment and facility, in proper use of equipment in the production environment, such as hoses and tools, and in the proper use, handling, and storage of chemicals used in sanitation.
Figure 2 is an example of an aid that could be used to train employees on the proper use of sanitizers:. When entering any area where fresh produce or fresh-cut produce is present, walk through a foot sanitizer unit. Equipment whether fixed or free standing , fixtures, floors, walls, and other structures in a processing facility can become a source of microbial contamination if not adequately maintained in sanitary condition.
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The high humidity and structural niches in a fresh-cut produce processing facility encourage microbial build-up. To prevent fresh-cut produce from becoming contaminated by equipment or other structures in the facility, we recommend that employees be trained on proper cleaning and sanitizing steps within the processing areas. Figure 3 is an example of an aid that could be used to train employees on the cleaning and maintenance of processing equipment and facilities:.
Figure 3. An example of a training aid on cleaning and sanitizing steps within processing areas. Some equipment may need to be disassembled before cleaning and sanitizing followed by reassembly. In addition to using sanitizers appropriately and cleaning and sanitizing the equipment and facility regularly, proper use of equipment, such as hoses, can also reduce the risk of contamination of fresh and fresh-cut produce.
For example, keeping hose nozzles off the floor can help prevent nozzles and employee hands from becoming a source of contamination. We recommend that sections of hose that touch the floor or other unclean surface not make contact with fresh produce, food-contact surfaces, or packaging materials.
A retractable hose suspended from the ceiling may help to prevent such contamination. In addition, allowing hose ends to sit in standing water or to be submerged in water tanks could allow back siphonage of water, thereby contaminating the water distribution system. Further, we recommend that employees be trained to avoid use of high-pressure water hoses to clean floors, walls, and equipment in the processing and packaging areas during production or after production equipment has been cleaned.
This practice will help prevent aerosols from contacting processing equipment and food-contact surfaces, product, or packaging materials. Therefore, we recommend that employees be trained on the proper use of cleaning equipment. FDA recommends that the processing facility and its structures such as walls, ceilings, floors, windows, doors, vents, and drains be designed to be easy to clean and maintain and to protect the product from microbial, physical, and chemical contamination. For example, designing food contact surfaces to be smooth, nonabsorbent, smoothly bonded, without niches, and sealed would make these surfaces easier to clean and thus, would prevent the harborage of microbial pathogens.
Both direct contamination and cross-contamination of produce can be minimized by giving proper attention to physical design, emphasizing proper product flow, using appropriate construction materials, managing facility traffic, and ensuring proper airflow. We recommend that facilities and staging areas be designed to facilitate maintenance and good sanitation practices so that contamination may be controlled throughout receiving, cooling, processing, packing, and storage operations. We also recommend that buildings, fixtures, and equipment be maintained in a condition that will protect fresh-cut produce from potential microbial, chemical, and physical contamination.
In general, we recommend limiting access to the facility and to its processing areas, providing adequate space for operations, ensuring adequate drainage of processing and wash water, installing food contact surfaces that are easy to clean and maintain, and designing areas and structures to protect the product and equipment from contamination. Using floor flumes with caution due to the potential for water aerosol contamination of the room air and nearby equipment surfaces.
We recommend against the use of a floor flume transfer from the produce cooling and packing operation into or across an area housing fresh-cut produce operations. Where overhead condensate cannot be prevented, we recommend that catch pans be utilized, and be cleaned and sanitized on a regular basis. If wooden equipment is used including pallets , we recommend that the equipment be in good condition and well maintained so it is not a source of physical or microbial contamination. Non-wooden construction materials, such as plastic or stainless steel, are preferable for use in processing areas because they reduce the risk of microbial harborage and cross-contamination of final product.
We recommend that a fresh-cut fruit or vegetable processing facility be designed so that incoming raw products never cross paths with or are commingled with finished fresh-cut produce products. Similarly, we recommend maintaining separate raw incoming product, in process, and finished product areas so as to prevent the potential for microbial cross-contamination.
We recommend the following practices that use location to reduce the potential for contamination:.
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Locating a disinfectant foot foam, foot bath, or foot spray at all entrances and exits to all production and finished product storage areas. We recommend the following practices that use flow of personnel, product, equipment, or air to reduce the potential for contamination:. Designing product areas to have traffic patterns that separate raw and finished product using either linear product flow raw to finished product or by physical partition.
Figure 7 in Appendix E is an example of product and personnel flow patterns in a fresh-cut processing plant. Using an air filtration system for central air distribution and airflow that is counter to product flow, so that filtered air moves with a positive pressure from the cleanest areas e. We also recommend that air intake for the facility be located to minimize contamination of the intake air by:.
Restricting the movement of lift trucks, bins, totes, maintenance tools, cleaning implements, clothing, and people from receiving and storage zones to processing and packaging areas. Color coding bins, totes, clothing, cleaning implements, maintenance tools, and other items e. We recommend that the processing equipment be designed and constructed to be easy to clean and maintain and to avoid microbial contamination of the fresh-cut product. We recommend the following to facilitate cleaning and to help ensure that fresh—cut produce is not contaminated during the processing operation:.
Using smooth, non-absorbent, sealed, and easily cleanable food contact surfaces that are sloped to drain freely and made of durable, non-corrosive, nontoxic materials. Food contact surfaces include items such as knives, conveyors, belts, chutes, product totes, gloves, tools including shovels and racks, cutting boards, tables, dryers and spinner baskets, and packing scales. We recommend that all food contact surfaces be smoothly bonded e. Where two food contact surfaces meet, we recommend use of a cover over the juncture to prevent food debris from collecting in the crevice and creating an area that is difficult to clean.
We suggest cautious use of hollow structures, such as catwalk framework, table legs, conveyor rollers, and racks, because they may collect water and debris, and thus, harbor pathogens. Establishing a preventive maintenance program helps to ensure that all equipment functions as intended. Equipment failure requiring maintenance activities during production may increase the risk of microbial contamination, particularly from L.
Preventive maintenance includes periodic examination and maintenance of equipment such as valves, gaskets, o-rings, pumps, screens, filters, and heat exchanger plates. We recommend that a firm develop appropriate plans of action in case important equipment, such as refrigeration equipment, disinfectant delivery systems, power systems, or alarm systems, malfunctions. We also recommend the following practices:. We recommend that maintenance personnel who work in the processing or packaging areas comply with the hygiene requirements for production employees.
We recommend that knives be replaced if damaged or if they cannot otherwise be maintained in a sanitary condition.
Frequently inspecting cutting blades and belts during processing operations for damage, product residue build up, or cleaning needs. We recommend that blades be removed and cleaned separately, and remaining equipment parts disassembled if possible and cleaned on a regular basis. Operating metal detectors in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions and checking for proper functioning at least daily to ensure effective detection of metal and removal of affected product.
We recommend that procedures be in place, such as a the use of metal detectors during packaging operations, to minimize the possibility that metal ends up in finished product packages. Pathogenic microorganisms may be found on floors, in drains, and on the surfaces of sorting, grading, processing, and packaging equipment.
Without appropriate sanitation practices, these surfaces may be a source of microbial contamination.
We recommend the use of a comprehensive sanitation program developed by a trained employee such as a certified sanitarian to avoid microbial contamination of the product in a fresh-cut processing facility. We recommend that fresh-cut processors consider using the following practices for their sanitation program:. An example of such a schedule is included in Figure 4. When visual inspection or environmental monitoring results for equipment or the facility reveal dirt, food residues, or other debris, we recommend a more frequent cleaning and sanitizing schedule relative to what is shown in Figure 4.
Figure 4. For cleaning drains, we recommend using dedicated utensils color coded and used for cleaning drains only to minimize the potential for contamination.
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We also recommend that floor drains not be cleaned during processing operations and that the person who cleaned drains not clean fresh-cut produce food contact surfaces without changing outer garments, and washing and sanitizing his or her hands. Regularly inspecting tools for cutting, slicing, and shredding for damage that could impair cleaning and sanitizing them. Cleaning and sanitizing chemicals may be toxic, and should be stored in dry, secure, and ventilated areas away from facility traffic and processing operations.
They should be handled by employees trained in the use of such chemicals. We recommend a pest control program be implemented throughout the entire processing facility to eliminate pests such as rodents, birds, reptiles, and insects that may harbor or be a vector for a variety of pathogens. As part of the plant's pest control program, consider frequent monitoring of affected and treated areas to assess accurately the effectiveness of the program.
Some helpful physical and chemical controls are recommended below:. Using pesticides, traps, bait, and chemicals that are acceptable for use in a food processing facility and that will not contaminate foods, food ingredients, or food packaging. Chemical controls should be applied by a licensed pest control operator or according to local regulations.
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