Importance of Automated Employee Hygiene in Food Processing and Packaging
by Jil Di Rito, on April 9,2018
Most food production and packaging professionals understand the importance of good hand hygiene, but how many understand the potential pitfalls of even the most strictly enforced SOP’s?
According to the CDC, 50% of foodborne illness is directly attributed to ineffective handwashing. That statistic alone underscores the importance of taking a closer look at the potential shortcomings associated with hand hygiene SOPs in food production and packaging zones.
Many underlying causes of poor employee hygiene are actually behavioral problems. Research shows that even a well-intentioned manual handwash becomes ineffective against dangerous pathogens if not enough soap is used. If no automated process exists, the risks associated with poor hygiene practices rise. More importantly, SOPs cannot be clinically-validated because handwashing methods in manual sinks vary from employee to employee.
Further, even the most strictly enforced SOPs involve the use of manual systems. With any manual system or process, there will always be inherent variables, as the procedure relies on employee behavior. Meritech COO Paul Barnhill asserts, “You're looking at microscopic product that you can't see. You think you're doing your due diligence … you think you used enough soap or you think you used enough water to really remove those pathogens when you really didn't”. Automated handwashing eliminates that uncertainty by providing a standardized soap amount, wash and rinse time. Meritech’s 12 second wash and rinse using UltraPure 2% antimicrobial soap is the most powerful defense against transient pathogens.
Because employee hygiene can be considered the first defense to pathogen control and food safety, it is imperative to have SOPs that can be controlled and standardized. That is why Meritech has spent the last decade focusing on automating the handwashing and footwear sanitization process. The best way to approach standardization is by combining technology with mechanisms for control just outside the production zone entrance. Our systems can correct behavioral problems through automation, empowering real control in employee hygiene SOPs.
ROIs of Implementing Automated Hygiene Systems
Implementation of automated handwashing and footwear sanitizing programs will also result in additional benefits to your business and employees.
Cost Effectiveness: Our automated systems use a controlled amount of soap and water as compared to manual washings.
Time-efficiency: Complete wash and rinse cycle is completed in just 12 seconds through automated systems. (A recommended :30 second manual hand wash takes more than twice as long.)
Eco-Friendliness: Meritech’s automated systems generate 75 percent less waste, which makes it an eco-friendly sanitary practice.
Boosted Morale: In addition to ensuring safety compliance and product quality, our systems reassure employees that they are working in an environment where safety is a priority, which results in boosted morale and productivity.