Posted by Philip Ansell - 13 May, 2019
Following the wide interest shown in Ucrete at IFFA, the world’s leading trade fair for the meat industry, as the brand celebrates its 50th anniversary, Ucrete’s European Product Manager Aigerim Sabit explains why using the right flooring is so essential to food processing in general, and meat production in particular...
What are the biggest dangers of using the wrong flooring in a food processing plant?
With the wrong flooring, surfaces can be hard to clean properly, allowing bacteria and mold to grow. Flooring that isn’t hard-wearing enough will deteriorate, crack and delaminate, causing dirt, dust or other particles to spread to food. Failing floors not only carry the risk of microbiological growth but can also encourage pests such as flies, beetles and rodents, which creates a further chance of contamination. This kind of cross-contamination between food, surfaces and equipment is a typical cause of food poisoning.
A system that endures
As I reflect on many years working with this incredible enduring flooring, it’s both amazing and gratifying to think that more and more customers are finding it to be the right solution: sustainable and ecologically credible because it simply doesn’t fail. There are Ucrete floors still in service after 35 years of heavy use in manufacturing plants – which is astounding when you think of the amount of people, machinery and chemicals that they come into contact with every day.
What type of flooring is best for meat production and processing facilities?
The flooring has to be hygienic and hardwearing; resistant to heavy impacts, chemicals and significant temperature variations. Without durability there is no hygiene. It must also be non-tainting. Cleanability is the key issue – and the ability to withstand an intensive cleaning regime. As any kind of residue on the floor can be a potential cause of slips, good slip resistance is important, too. For highly automated production facilities, antistatic properties are a requirement – Ucrete’s extensive antistatic range launching this year meets this need. Looking at overall performance, the practicalities of installing the flooring are also relevant: think about the effect on production, from the amount of downtime involved to the impact on the immediate environment. Our innovative rapid-curing Ucrete mortars are non-solvented, odourless, non-tainting and can be put back into service after five hours at 10°C for optimal convenience and food safety.
What difference does it make to hygiene if the flooring has a slip-resistant surface?
It should make none! Think about a flooring system with a defined profile (DP) – R12 or R13 to DIN51130, that has a deliberately ‘rough’ surface to help footwear to grip, preventing slips. It needs bacterial cleanability comparable to stainless steel so that the textured surface doesn’t harbor bacteria that could cause cross-contamination. It’s really important to choose a system that creates a safe environment for people working at the plants, which doesn’t compromise on either slip resistance or cleanability – especially for facilities where the floor is frequently greasy and wet, as in meat production.
What kind of regulations apply to flooring for meat production facilities?
HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point) is a preventative food safety management system designed to identify food safety hazards with the aim of avoiding food contamination. The European Parliament’s Regulation 852/2004 requires that “food business operators put in place, implement and maintain a permanent procedure or procedures based on the HACCP principles.” For flooring, that means installing a system that is:
- Seamless and impervious, to avoid any seams or Joint where bacteria and mold can grow
- Durable, to avoid cracks forming which could hold dirt and contamination
- Easy to clean
The regulation’s Annex II Rooms: Chapter II (Point 1 A3.) reinforces the importance of ease of cleaning for surfaces including floors. There are further improvements to consider, too: for instance, all Ucrete systems produced in Redditch, UK, achieved Halal certification in 2018. Especially in the meat-processing industry the certificate is more and more becoming a subject of inquiry.
Why is having hygienic flooring so important?
Food poisoning can be a life-or-death matter. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) over 200 diseases are spread through food, causing the death of around 420,000 people a year. Most of these diseases can be prevented by proper food preparation. An example that is really relevant to the meat industry is one of the most dangerous food-borne illnesses, a type of E.coli called 0157, which can prove fatal and is often found in the guts or waste of animals, including cattle. Meat infected because of poor hygiene during production is one cause of it passing to humans. Clearly, hygienic flooring has a huge role to play in stopping diseases from being transmitted via contaminated meat.
Why not read more about Aigerim’s views on flooring and food safety here?