Features

A food plant equipped with a Flowcrete floor to ensure a safe and healthy work space

A food plant equipped with a Flowcrete floor to ensure a safe and healthy work space



Floors for food safety

Vik Vithlani, sales director, Flowcrete Middle East (pictured), shows how specifying the right resin floor can help the food and beverage industry meet HACCP guidelines

May 2014

Commercial and regulatory pressures have made food-safe flooring a vital consideration for any facility involved in the manufacture, processing or storage of food and beverage products.

Industry leaders and national authorities throughout the Gulf region are keen to avoid the detrimental impacts that foodborne illnesses can have. Significant outbreak can affect not only the health of consumers, but also the integrity of food supply chains and the ability of Gulf nations to export produce abroad.

The best way for manufacturers to ensure the saleability of their products, and for national authorities to ensure trust in exports, has been to implement food policies and standards that minimise the chance of contaminants entering foodstuffs during the manufacturing and processing stages.

Since the start of the 21st century, initiatives to lower the incidence of foodborne illnesses in the Gulf region have seen considerable success. A significant aspect of this has been the importance placed on meeting the best practice standards of facility design, maintenance and cleaning as laid out in the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) Guidelines for Food Manufacturing Premises.

The HACCP requirements for a sanitary environment heavily stress the importance of minimising contamination, and highlights that having the right floor for the facility is a crucial aspect of this.

The floor is vital to facilitating a clean working space, as it is likely to come into contact with contaminants through a combination of foot traffic and spillages that can cause harmful pathogens to accumulate within gaps in the floor finish. If the floor is susceptible to harbouring microorganisms, within cracks or absorbed into the surface, then it can easily become the site of dangerous bacteria build-up.

To avoid these scenarios the HACCP recommends that floors are constructed of a material that is not only “durable, smooth, cleanable and suitable for the manufacturers operations” but which can also ensure a “waterproof, non-slippery, non-absorbent, easily washable, non-porous” finish.

 

RESIN-BASED FLOORING

 

Resin-based flooring systems, such as polyurethane and epoxy resin floors, have become very popular in the food industry globally for their ability to provide surfaces for new-build or refurbishment projects that match the HACCP’s criteria.

The smooth, monolithic and crack-free surface that resin systems provide enhances the hygienic credentials of an industrial environment by making it exceptionally easy to remove contaminants. The impermeable, seamless finish won’t absorb foreign elements and the cleaning regime will be able to efficiently clean away dirt and bacteria before it can become a concern. 

The HACCP highlights the need for strong floors that can “withstand a high pressure of work”, as floors that are not able to endure the on-site conditions will eventually fail, leading to cracks, splits or gaps that are difficult to clean and in which pathogens can thrive.

Resin systems are hard wearing and resistant enough to withstand the rigours of a production environment. This includes impacts from heavy traffic, equipment and dropped tools, thermal shock, wear from frequent cleaning and exposure to chemical abuse from sanitisers, acids, lubricants and food oils.

To really ensure a facility meets the ethos of contamination prevention, antimicrobial additives that actively inhibit the growth of bacteria on the floor’s surface can be included within a polyurethane based system.

 

POINTS TO CONSIDER

Food production facilities with Flowcrete’s flooring solution for a healthy environment

Food production facilities with Flowcrete’s flooring solution for a healthy environment

Alongside the choice of flooring material there are certain points on a floor that must be carefully considered during the design stage, as they are more likely to gather bacteria than others. One of these areas is the join between the floor and the wall, which the HACCP insists must be “coved, closed or sealed and easy to clean”. Resin solutions allow for a strip of coving to be installed that creates a seamless transition between the floor and wall to remove the risk of contaminants building up in the otherwise exposed gap. 

Food and beverage manufacturers know that when managing their facilities there are often many competing priorities to consider, and that a balance must often be struck between the different demands. With the floor it is often a challenge to have a highly functional system installed within the window of opportunity that the construction or refurbishment schedule allows.

Fast curing resin solutions are available to install a floor system that meets a high hygiene standard within a short time frame. Typically based on methyl methacrylate (MMA) technology, these systems are able to provide a seamless, watertight and fully trafficable floor mere hours after installation.

Developers going through the floor specification process should talk to a resin flooring specialist to get advice on the best system for a specific environment. An expert will be able to recommend the correct specification for a particular project, as installing a resin system is a complex process and the unique variables of a facility could affect which system to use.

Amongst other factors, the extent of exposure to corrosives, the required thickness of the floor, what heavy impacts will need to be withstood and the standard of the substrate will all play a role in specifying the right solution for an effective, long-term finish.

A production facility’s floor should be viewed as an area that can provide a long list of additional benefits, as not only can it help meet HACCP standards, but it can also significantly optimise the workplace. Whilst aiding hygiene, a robust, level surface also makes it quicker and safer for employees to move around and long lasting durability avoids costly refurbishment downtime. The customisable nature of resin floors also allows for tailored signage, anti-slip profiles and antibacterial additives, which all actively enhance the on-site environment.




More Stories



Tags