3P's of Hygienic Design of Food Factories - People, Place and Product
At Meritech we partner with our customers to make the world a healthier, safer place by reducing the spread of pathogens at their facility. We not only do this through hygiene education, but also hygiene zone design consultations or facility site surveys. Whether virtually or on-site, each visit to a facility is focused around three areas: the people, the place and the product, or as we like to call them, the "3 P’s of Hygienic Design of Food Factories".
When we first discuss hygienic design of food factories with leaders at an organization we ask them how many people are at the facility and what these individuals are doing on a daily basis. By understanding what people are routinely doing and interacting with as well as how they move throughout a facility, we can help design the best hygiene areas for them. For instance, a production worker that spends most of their day in cold areas may need supplementary hygiene zones to ensure that they are comfortable throughout the day.
What is a Supplementary Hygiene Zone?
We also want to understand the quantity of individuals going through a core hygiene zone at any given time. By knowing this, it’s easier for us to determine if a smaller, compact hygiene system is better or if a high-throughput hygiene station is needed to help keep everyone flowing through the hygiene zone quickly. We also need to know if the facility’s employee population may grow in the future to ensure that these recommendations are sustainable during the growth of that organization. By knowing the quantity of individuals, we can also determine if additional barriers or signage is needed to help guide large groups of production team members through the zone, so crucial hygiene steps are not circumvented.
Not only is it important for us to understand how an organization’s employees ensure hygiene best practices but also how visitors like third party contractors and auditors enter the facility and go through the hygiene zone. Is a separate hygiene zone needed near a visitor’s entrance? Is it clear to visitors what steps are necessary? If a plant shoe is required, is there a space for them to easily change into this footwear and store their street shoes? By understanding how people visiting and working at a facility interact with hygiene areas we can help design a hygiene zone that reduces cross-contamination and pathogen spread while ensuring staff and visitors can move through the necessary steps quickly.
When considering hygiene zone design, we take a close look at the facility and the hygiene zone(s), or the “place.” We want to understand all the different areas at the facility from the entrance, to the locker rooms, restrooms, break rooms, production areas, packing and shipping, as well as QA and QC areas. By understanding the facility layout and how people move through the facility, we can conduct a more accurate risk analysis of each area. If necessary, we will ensure that satellite hygiene zones are located in the right spaces to prevent outside contaminants from entering production areas or cross-contamination between allergen and ready-to-eat areas.
What is a Satellite Hygiene Zone?
Different areas of the facility may require different hygiene equipment. For instance if you’re dealing with an area where lots of machinery, like forklifts, are used, a sanitation method that works for both wheeled and foot traffic should be considered. By taking a close look at how the facility is designed and how people and equipment are moving throughout those areas, we can determine if additional satellite hygiene zones or sanitation methods are needed.
One of the first things we consider during a site survey or hygiene zone design consultation is the commercial goods which are are being sold or manufactured. Production areas for wet goods like dairy can utilize a footwear hygiene method such as a boot scrubber or boot dip pan. Wet production environments also have increased slip hazards, so it’s important for us to consider what type of footwear is used and find a sanitation method that is suitable to use with the facility’s chosen footwear.
A dry production environment for baked goods or medical cleanroom environments may not support a sanitation method that uses more moisture. Therefore a shoe cover or a low-moisture sanitation method for footwear may need to be considered. Ready-to-eat areas may need an additional step after gloving to sanitize the gloves and footwear of employees. Overall, the type of product being produced has a direct impact on the type of equipment we recommend for the design of any hygiene zone.
This is just a quick overview of how each of our hygienic design of food factories consultations are focused around the facility's people, place and product. At Meritech, we don’t just sell automated hygiene equipment, we truly partner with each of our customers to ensure that our equipment fits well into their hygiene zones and suits their organization's needs.