Considerations for footwear hygiene protocol for production zones.
An effective Employee Hygiene Program is critical in preventing contamination of production zones and ultimately contamination of your finished product.
Hand washing, proper gowning procedures, validation of your hygiene SOP’s, training and retraining. All that hard work and effort, all the resources devoted to hygiene….and an ineffective footwear hygiene program kills it all. It happens routinely due to basic misconceptions, bad industry habits, and lack of awareness of dangers posed by contaminated shoes.
There are some food industry standard practices that have been proven to be ineffective and result in the spread of pathogens rather than the elimination of pathogens from footwear. Manual footwear sanitizing pans, door foamers, dry quat pellets, pails with brushes for manual scrubbing of shoes….all of these industry standard practices are potentially, and in fact usually, ineffective.
Any hygiene practice that allows for variability or that requires manual intervention will be inconsistent and not a validatable SOP. Manual footwear sanitizing pans, for example, are demonstrated vectors for the spread of listeria because manual intervention is required to maintain the proper PPM level of the sanitizing agent (for Quats, the FDA recommended concentration vs. listeria is >800 PPM).
The key to an effective footwear hygiene program is insuring that the SOP’s are as automated as possible and are validatable. Fully automated footwear sanitizing products which maintain the proper “kill” concentration of sanitizing chemicals are available. Contact time is critical, and food production companies should validate effective sanitizing of footwear using different contact times to determine what is effective. A door foamer with variability in the concentration of chemical over the surface of the floor won’t be effective if there is less than a second of contact time per shoe.
Captive footwear programs are being implemented very slowly in U.S. food production because both equipment and the management of these programs is costly. Still, captive footwear is clearly on its way to becoming a mandatory food safety requirement.
Boot Scrubbing and Sanitizing equipment that will make your captive footwear program successful is available from many suppliers, both U.S. and foreign. When you are evaluating Boot Scrubbers for use in your captive footwear hygiene program, here are critical questions you should ask:
- How do you guarantee effectiveness? How will the equipment be serviced? How will equipment be calibrated and certified for your Quality System?
- Is the equipment built with safety in mind? Is it designed for cleanability and per hygienic design principles?
- Where is the equipment manufactured? What is the warranty? How will I get parts and are they stocked in the USA?
Meritech has a complete line of footwear sanitizing systems and equipment that can check all of those items off your list. Our systems are serviced by Meritech’s service team, covered by a full 5 yr warranty on parts and labor, and designed and manufactured in the USA.
Are you going to Food Safety Summit?
Mark your calendar May 9 to Gain powerful insights to develop best-in-class Employee Hygiene GMPs and discover examples of effective and ineffective employee hygiene practices, validation protocols and continuous improvement methodologies. Then stop by our booth 304 and wash your hands!